Each week, Boise State student Katy Hudson and her husband are forced to bleach and wipe down the walls of their apartment in order to prevent large pockets of mold from forming.
“We just have mold everywhere,” Hudson said. “Now we have to use this special mold spray that doesn’t smell super great.”
Hudson contacted her property management company about the problem, only to be told leaky windows and construction material was to blame.
“They said that since it’s a brick building, that’s how it’s going to be. We kind of think they are full of it,” Hudson said.
After several failed phone calls to the property management company to have mold outbreaks addressed, Hudson and her husband decided to throw in the towel.
“We were really aggressive about it at first and they kept telling us ‘Nope, that’s just how the windows work, that’s just how brick is,’” Hudson said.
Unfortunately for Hudson and those facing similar circumstances, provisions requiring landlords and property management companies to address mold problems aren’t found in Idaho’s law books.
“When it comes to things like toxic mold or a mold invasion, that’s not in there,” said Idaho Deputy Attorney General Stephanie Guyon.
State laws require property owners to repair damages to basic infrastructure that threaten tenant safety.
“The list in that statute is fairly specific, things like plumbing, wiring, tampering with smoke alarms, that kind of stuff,” Guyon said.
Tenants who feel landlords are not maintaining adequate living conditions can attempt to have their way in court.
“The tenant certainly could try that. They could do the three day notice to the landlord and if the problem isn’t taken care of, then they can go to court,” Guyon said. “Whether or not they will be successful, that’s another matter.”
Guyon said Idahoans frequently contact the Office of the Attorney General with questions regarding mold outbreak and damage, but without laws to ensure the issue is addressed, tenants are left with few options.
“It’s an unfortunate situation for a lot of Idahoans,” Guyon said.
According to the Center for Disease Control’s website, there is “sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough and wheeze in otherwise healthy people.”
Hudson said she and her husband have experienced frequent coughing and respiratory issues but aren’t sure if indoor mold is to blame.
“Both of us have been sick and have had coughs but it’s hard to say it’s definitely because of the mold,” Hudson said.
As for now, Hudson is too busy and broke to take her property management company to court to have the mold issue fixed.
Since Hudson and her husband have a few months left on their lease, they have decided to wait it out and prevent potential tenants from considering the space.
“We might try to put up fliers to warn people not to rent from them,” Hudson said.