Who Pays for Mold Remediation? What Homeowners and Landlords Need to Know

Mold is a common indoor environmental health hazard that can lead to allergy symptoms and other health risks, in addition to serious structural damage. It thrives in damp and humid conditions, often in the wake of a water leak or moisture issues in the home. and a type of fungus that thrives in damp and humid environments.

Dealing with mold can be costly, depending on factors such as the type of mold, the area affected, and the scope of damage.

A mild mold problem might not require professional help and can be removed with a bit of soap, water, and elbow grease. However, moderate to severe mold problems, especially following major water damage, may require extensive professional mold remediation that involves several steps including inspections, removal, and repair. As a rule of thumb, any area affected by mold that exceeds 10 square feet may require professional mold remediation services.

Mold remediation projects in New York City generally add up to thousands of dollars on average—even tens of thousands of dollars for large projects. So who is responsible for paying for mold remediation?

Who Pays for Mold Remediation?

The responsibility for paying for mold remediation services depends on whether you are a homeowner, renter, or landlord:

If You’re a Homeowner

Who pays for mold remediation depends on what caused the mold to begin with.

Homeowner insurance generally covers mold that is the result of a “covered peril” (a sudden or accidental event specifically covered by your policy). This may differ depending on your policy, but it typically includes scenarios such as:

  • Water damage from a burst pipe
  • Broken water heater
  • Other plumbing leaks
  • Roofing leaks
  • Water damage caused by extinguishing a fire

If this happened to you, then you can file a mold claim. Do not try to clean up or remove the mold by yourself; the insurance company will need to send a claims adjuster to inspect the mold damage first.

Whether or not your claim will be honored depends on if they determine that the mold was in fact caused by a covered peril, or instead it was due to negligence or a pre-existing problem. Examples of scenarios in which mold remediation is typically not covered by homeowner’s insurance include:

  • Mold caused by a leaky sink or bathtub that was never fixed
  • Mold caused by a lack of ventilation and other moisture or humidity issues
  • Mold caused by poorly sealed doors or windows, or deteriorated roofing
  • Mold caused by a storm or flood (this is covered by flood insurance, which must be purchased separately)

If your claim is approved, your insurance will pay for mold remediation. However, they might not pay for all of it. Some insurance policies limit mold remediation payments to between $1,000 and $10,000, and in cases where remediation costs exceed this limit, the rest must be paid out of pocket. Make sure to check first if your insurance policy has limits on mold remediation so that you can plan accordingly when consulting with a mold remediation company.

If your claim was not approved, or your homeowner insurance does not cover mold, then the homeowner will need to pay entirely for the mold remediation.

If You’re a Renter

As a renter or tenant, you are generally not responsible for mold remediation costs, except when the mold was a direct result of your own negligence or failure to report moisture issues to your landlord.

Renters are responsible for taking basic and common sense measures to prevent mold, such as:

  • Cleaning up spills and excess water
  • Ventilating rooms where humidity builds up
  • Reporting leaks and plumbing issues in a timely manner

If mold grows as a result of something that you did, or neglected to do, then your landlord can argue that you are responsible for cleaning up the aftermath.

Even if the mold was caused by a plumbing issue or a leaky roof or window, if you failed to report the underlying to your landlord so that it could be fixed, then the subsequent mold problem may be deemed due to negligence on your part.

In all other scenarios, when mold grows due to an accident or a structural issue, or even due to a plumbing issue that you reported but your landlord failed to fix, then your landlord is responsible for remediation.

When this happens, you should report the mold growth to your landlord or property manager as soon as possible. They are required to take action to remediate the mold within a reasonable amount of time. If they don’t, you can file a complaint to 311 to report a housing maintenance issue and the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will send someone to investigate.

If You’re a Landlord

Landlords are responsible for keeping their properties free of mold.

This is mandated in New York City’s Local Law 55 of 2018 (the Asthma-Free Housing Act). Mold is also covered under the “warranty of habitability” under New York Real Property Law 235-b, which states that landlords are responsible for keeping their apartments safe and fit for human habitation at all times.

That said, being responsible for mold remediation doesn’t necessarily mean that landlords are always on the hook for mold remediation expenses.

When a mold problem occurs due to negligence by your tenant (such as not ventilating bathrooms during use, or failing to report plumbing issues), then they may be held responsible for the associated mold remediation costs. In this type of scenario, you may be able to deduct some or all of the expenses from their security deposit.

Landlord insurance may or may not cover mold remediation costs, depending on your policy. Many policies have a fungi or bacteria exclusion, meaning they do not provide coverage for mold issues, but additional mold coverage may be available as an add-on.

But similar to homeowner’s insurance, if the mold was a result of another issue that your policy does cover, such as accidental flooding or water damage, then your insurance may cover mold remediation in addition to other repairs.