Indoor air quality concerns are addressed via enforcement of several city codes by a certified code enforcement officer or environmental investigator. We respond to indoor air quality issues as it pertains to residences for apartment units, hotels, motels and other sites that provide multifamily housing sites.
Does the City of Houston Environmental Health conduct mold inspection and or testing?
No, our department does not conduct mold inspection or testing. However, we may address the contributing factors that fall under minimum standards.
If you require mold inspection or testing, please visit the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR).
Please note that in most instances, areas of visible mold less than 25 contiguous square feet in area can be cleaned up by people who are not licensed.
In addition, our department does not regulate persons and companies who inspect and test for mold in buildings (mold assessment), and those who clean up and remove mold (mold remediation). The Texas Mold Assessment and Remediation Rules require contractors doing these types of activities to be properly licensed by the state and to follow minimum work practices. If a renter believes non-licensed persons are conducting mold assessment or remediation activities, a complaint about such activities may be filed with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.
To file a complaint, please visit the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.
Are there federal regulations or standards regarding mold testing?
Standards or Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) for airborne concentrations of mold, or mold spores, have not been set. Currently, there are no EPA regulations or standards for airborne mold contaminants.
Is sampling for mold needed?
In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. Since no EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold or mold spores, sampling cannot be used to check a building's compliance with federal mold standards.
Renter's Rights and Requesting Repairs
The relationship between Texas landlords (hereinafter referred to as “owner or manager”) and their tenants are governed by several statutes, particularly Chapter 92 of the Texas Property Code and by various court rulings. However, the most important source of information about your relationship with the owner or manager is your rental agreement, whether it is written or oral. Please review your rental agreement and comply with the provisions for requesting repairs.
Health and Safety
You have a right to demand that the owner or manager repair any condition that materially affects your health and safety. Under Texas law, by renting you the property, the owner or manager guarantees that the unit will be a fit place to live. Under certain conditions, you and the owner or manager may have a written agreement that you will make needed repairs. The owner or manager does not have a duty to pay for or make repairs if you or your guests cause an unsafe or unhealthy condition through negligence, carelessness, abuse or accident—unless the condition resulted from "normal wear and tear." Also, the owner or manager must provide smoke detectors. You may not waive that provision, and you may not disconnect or disable the smoke detector.
How to Ask for Repairs
You must inform the owner or manager of a problem before the repair obligation arises as specified in the Texas Property Code Sec. 92.052. Your notice to the owner or manager must be in writing only if your lease is in writing and requires written notice. If the owner or manager won't make repairs needed to protect your health, safety, or security, and you follow the procedures required by law, you may be entitled according to Texas Property Code Section 92.056(e) to:
- End the lease;
- Have the condition repaired or remedied according to Section 92.0561 and deduct the cost of the repair from the rent without the necessity of judicial action or;
- Obtain judicial remedies as specified in Section 92.0563 of the Texas Property Code.
However, you must follow these steps:
- Send the owner or manager a dated letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by registered mail, outlining the needed repairs. You may also deliver the letter in person. Keep a copy of the letter. Be sure that your rent is current when the notice is received.
- Your owner or manager should make a diligent effort to repair the problem within a reasonable time after receipt of the notice. The law presumes seven days to be a reasonable time, but the owner or manager can rebut this presumption. If the owner or manager has not made a diligent effort to complete the repair within seven days and you did not have the first notice letter delivered to your owner or manager via certified mail, return receipt requested, or via registered mail, you will need to send a second notice letter regarding the needed repairs.
- If the owner or manager still has not made diligent efforts to repair the problem within a reasonable time after receipt of the notice letter sent by certified mail, return receipt requested or by registered mail, you may be entitled to terminate the lease, repair the problem and deduct the cost from your rent, or obtain judicial remedies as specified in Section 92.0563 of the Texas Property Code. You should consult with an attorney before taking any of these actions.
Retaliation Against Tenant
Under Texas law, it is illegal for an owner or manager to retaliate against you for complaining in good faith about necessary repairs for a period of six months from the date you made such a complaint. Of course, you can always be evicted if you fail to pay your rent on time, threaten the safety of the owner, manager or intentionally damage the property.
You do not have a right to withhold rent because the owner or manager fails to make repairs when the condition needing repair does not materially affect your health and safety. If you try this method, the owner or manager may file suit against you.
Responsibilities of Occupant
An occupant, with regard to any portion of a building under the occupant's control, shall keep the premises free from refuse and other conditions likely to encourage infestation by insects, ectoparasites, or rodents.
Do you have legal questions?
Many times, citizens need answers to legal questions or simple legal advice that can be given over the telephone in just a few minutes. Citizens may need a referral to other legal or social service agencies.
On the first and third Wednesday of each month, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., volunteer attorneys answer telephone calls from the public. On the first Thursday of each month, the Mexican-American Bar Association and the Hispanic Bar Association answer Spanish calls during Consejos Legales, from 6-8 p.m.
For more information, visit LegalLine.
The information contained herein is for educational and informational purposes only. The Houston Health Department cannot provide any legal or medical advice. Please consult an attorney or a medical practitioner regarding specific legal or medical related questions and seek medical attention if you become ill or injured.