Mold Laws and Occupancy


One Of The Most Notable San Francisco Mold Laws And Occupancy Is SB 655.

We Encourage You To Read This Bill Yourself. Click Here.

The California Apartment Association did a marvelous job of limiting certain provisions in SB 655. However, there remain problems for landlords and tenants.

It is cheaper and easier for both tenants and landlord to listen to both sides of the issues and respond to them with a correction, if possible.

A polite, responsible discussion among adults can usually  find a way forward to resolve mold-related problems. However, if routine maintenance is neglected for many years and there are multiple roof patches, etc., etc., then yes, it’s going to get expensive and it’s probable the tenants will need to be temporarily rehoused.

The only thing landlords have to sell is time (occupancy). The only thing tenants are buying is a habitable place to live. If the “polite, respectful discussion” collapses into screaming and threats, expect it to cost everyone a lot more money. Landlords lose  rents; the tenants have a vacant a unit. Insurance goes up. The SFDBI can become costly with Notices of Violation and building permits.

Yes, some tenants will say anything when they can’t pay the rent. And yes, a few tenants will allow thirty people to live, shower, and cook in a studio apartment (this is guaranteed to cause mold growth). But there are also landlords that don’t repair toilets for tenants, don’t supply heat or exhaust fans, or deal with pest problems.

No one can clean up mold with bleach or other chemical. All it will do is lighten the surface – the mold will return. It’s necessary to  find and fix the water intrusion problem and remove the moldy building materials. This is not a DIY project! If untrained or supervised workers are allowed to “just hack into it” guaranteed to cross-contaminate the entire area and contents.

Reduce interior humidity from showers and cooking by installing a humidistat bathroom fan. This is wired by an electrician and goes on anytime the interior humidity exceeds 52%. This will create a less favorable environment for mold to grow. It’s noisy. But it works. There is no off switch.

The Rent Board in San Francisco

For Tenants the Rent Board has authority to hear complaints that violate the Rent Ordinance.It does not hear cases where mold is claimed by either party; you will need an attorney for that.

What Can Tenants Do About Mold

Promptly contact your landlord or management company about any type of water leak where more than 1 gallon of water is involved. Cooperate with the professional drying process that your landlord will use. This is for your benefit.

Don’t have too many people living or guests in your apartment. This will increase the humidity and create an encouraging environment for mold growth.

Don’t put your furniture next to an outside wall. A lot of buildings don’t have insulation. Without insulation moisture will building up in the breathing space between the furniture and the wall. Mold will grown.

Don’t overstuff your closets if they are on outside walls. This crowded condition will cause an increase in the humidity and mold with grow in your contents.

Let your bath exhaust fan run for 30 minutes after a shower or bath.

Run the kitchen exhaust fan while cooking plus 15 minutes after you finish.


What Can Landlords Do About Mold

Promptly respond to all messages from tenants about water leaks. Have professional drying start as soon as possible(within hours, not days). This will diminish the possibility of mold growth. The longer the professional drying is delayed the it’s more likely that mold with grow.

Have the roof and gutters inspected annually by a licensed roofer. 

Clean the gutters annually. Consider gutter guards to prevent leaf buildup if you have a lot of vegetation overhanging or close to the roof line.

Make sure all windows close completely. Fix them, if needed.

Have a drip pan under all hot water heaters.

Make sure the bath and kitchen exhaust fans are working in top condition. To test hold one square of bathroom paper under the exhaust vent. While the fan is on if the paper sticks the fan is working property. If the paper doesn’t stick, the vent needs to be repaired or replaced.

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