Too much indoor moisture can lead to mold and contribute to discomfort and aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma. For renters, it can be unclear how to get mold and moisture problems fixed. You should always give your landlord the opportunity to correct building defects and should immediately notify them when you notice moisture problems. Alternatively, as a tenant, you have the responsibility to immediately repair moisture problems for which you are responsible.
While dampness and mold are typically not written into local housing ordinances, landlords do have a duty to keep premises in a reasonable state of repair and to make necessary structural repairs. Tenants have certain rights where conditions in the premises materially affect health or safety of the tenant (Wis. Stat. ch. 704 Landlord and Tenant).
- Step 1: In resolving conflict, first contact your landlord in writing and describe the condition you are concerned about. Document the condition in detail, including photos, date, time, whom you notified and when.
- Step 2: If the concerns are not resolved, you can contact your local building inspector or a mold remediation contractor to describe the mold or moisture problem. Either authority may be able to help confirm the problem and recommend an appropriate solution. Local building inspectors, who are familiar with local building codes, can often investigate building code violations involving indoor moisture.
Prevent Mold Growth
- Act quickly if you identify a water leak or moisture problem. Do what you can to fix the problem. Document any water problems and report these issues to your landlord in writing with pictures.
- Maintain indoor humidity below 50%—using air conditioning or a dehumidifier will help.
- Clean bathrooms often and keep surfaces dry; run the bathroom ventilation fan during and after showers.
- Make sure appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers and stoves, are vented to the outside where possible.
- Refer to mold guidance if you have moisture damage or encounter mold (see sidebar links).
If No Resolution
If a mold and moisture problem has been verified and a landlord fails to correct it, you may file a complaint with the Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). DATCP staff can be reached at 800-422-7128.
When considering questions about lease agreements, it would be wise to first seek legal assistance prior to taking any action on the lease or withholding rent. For assistance in identifying legal aid sources, see the links below:
- Judicare: Non-profit law firm dedicated to providing equal access to justice for residents throughout northern Wisconsin.
- Legal Action of Wisconsin: Free legal services to low-income residents throughout central and southern Wisconsin, providing legal services related to housing law.
- Search Wisbar.
Before Signing a Lease
Carefully inspect the apartment for evidence of moisture problems such as stained carpeting, or water stains on walls and ceilings. Pay close attention to plumbing locations and take note of musty odors.
If you or other residents have asthma or other respiratory conditions, you may wish to avoid units with evidence of water damage, older carpeting, smoking, and slab-on-grade or below-grade units which may have higher humidity levels.
Mold Information for Tenants fact sheet, p02069c (PDF): Basic information for tenants dealing with mold concerns.
Indoor Air Quality Guide for Tenants: Guide explaining the laws that might apply to indoor air problems in rental properties and suggestions when looking for assistance to resolve indoor air quality problems.
A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home (PDF): General information on cleaning and preventing mold.
For more information, contact your local health department or call the Division of Public Health at 608-266-1120.