California’s Mold Law – SB 655
Mold is now a factor in declaring a property unfit for a renter.
A landlord could even face misdemeanor criminal penalties if mold is not cleared out. California’s Mold Law – SB 655 . .
However, he said a health officer actually has to come out to a property to declare it uninhabitable because of mold. A renter will not be successful in court, he said, unless a health official says the unit poses a risk.
“Here’s the really good news: You don’t need to do anything until you’re told about it,” Hutchinson said of when a landlord needs to clean it out.
The mold law also says mold is not the landlords’ fault if the tenant caused mold by “inappropriate housekeeping practices.”
BILL NUMBER: SB 655 INTRODUCED BILL TEXT
INTRODUCED BY Senator Mitchell FEBRUARY 27, 2015
An act to amend Sections 17920 and 17920.3 of the Health and
Safety Code, relating to housing standards.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST
SB 655, as introduced, Mitchell. Housing standards: mold.
(1) The State Housing Law, which is administered by the Department
of Housing and Community Development, prescribes standards for
buildings used for human habitation and establishes definitions for
this purpose. The law provides that a building, or a portion of it,
in which certain conditions are found to exist, such as a lack of
sanitation, as specified, is substandard. The law provides that a
violation of these provisions is a misdemeanor.
This bill would specify that visible or otherwise demonstrable
mold growth, excepting mold caused by inappropriate housekeeping
practices or improper use of ventilation, is a type of inadequate
sanitation and therefore a substandard condition. The bill would
define mold as living or dead fungi or its related products or parts,
including spores and hyphae. By expanding the definition of a crime,
this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
(2) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse
local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the
state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this
act for a specified reason.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.
State-mandated local program: yes.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1. Section 17920 of the Health and Safety Code is amended
17920. As used in this part:
(a) "Approved" means acceptable to the department.
(b) "Building" means a structure subject to this part.
(c) "Building standard" means building standard as
defined in Section 18909.
(d) "Department" means the Department of Housing and
(e) "Enforcement" means diligent effort to secure
compliance, including review of plans and permit applications,
response to complaints, citation of violations, and other legal
process. Except as otherwise provided in this part, "enforcement"
may, but need not, include inspections of existing buildings on which
no complaint or permit application has been filed, and effort to
secure compliance as to these existing buildings.
(f) "Fire protection district" means any special
district, or any other municipal or public corporation or district,
which is authorized by law to provide fire protection and prevention
(g) "Labeled" means equipment or materials to which has
been attached a label, symbol, or other identifying mark of an
organization, approved by the department, that maintains a periodic
inspection program of production of labeled products, installations,
equipment, or materials and by whose labeling the manufacturer
indicates compliance with appropriate standards or performance in a
(h) "Listed" means all products that appear in a list
published by an approved testing or listing agency.
(i) "Listing agency" means an agency approved by the
department that is in the business of listing and labeling products,
materials, equipment, and installations tested by an approved testing
agency, and that maintains a periodic inspection program on current
production of listed products, equipment, and installations, and
that, at least annually, makes available a published report of these
(j) "Mold" means living or dead fungi or its related products or
parts, including spores and hyphae.
(k) "Noise insulation" means the protection of persons
within buildings from excessive noise, however generated, originating
within or without such buildings.
(l) "Nuisance" means any nuisance defined pursuant to
Part 3 (commencing with Section 3479) of Division 4 of the Civil
Code, or any other form of nuisance recognized at common law or in
(m) "Public entity" has the same meaning as defined in
Section 811.2 of the Government Code.
(n) "Testing agency" means an agency approved by the
department as qualified and equipped for testing of products,
materials, equipment, and installations in accordance with nationally
SEC. 2. Section 17920.3 of the Health and Safety Code is amended
17920.3. Any building or portion thereof including any dwelling
unit, guestroom or suite of rooms, or the premises on which the same
is located, in which there exists any of the following listed
conditions to an extent that endangers the life, limb, health,
property, safety, or welfare of the public or the occupants thereof
shall be deemed and hereby is declared to be a substandard building:
(a) Inadequate sanitation shall include, but not be limited to,
(1) Lack of, or improper water closet, lavatory, or bathtub or
shower in a dwelling unit.
(2) Lack of, or improper water closets, lavatories, and bathtubs
or showers per number of guests in a hotel.
(3) Lack of, or improper kitchen sink.
(4) Lack of hot and cold running water to plumbing fixtures in a
(5) Lack of hot and cold running water to plumbing fixtures in a
(6) Lack of adequate heating.
(7) Lack of, or improper operation of required ventilating
(8) Lack of minimum amounts of natural light and ventilation
required by this code.
(9) Room and space dimensions less than required by this code.
(10) Lack of required electrical lighting.
(11) Dampness of habitable rooms.
(12) Infestation of insects, vermin, or rodents as determined by a
health officer or, if an agreement does not exist with an agency
that has a health officer, the infestation can be determined by a
code enforcement officer, as defined in Section 829.5 of the Penal
Code, upon successful completion of a course of study in the
appropriate subject matter as determined by the local jurisdiction.
(13) Any visible or otherwise demonstrable mold growth, excluding
the presence of mold that is caused by inappropriate housekeeping
practices or improper use of natural or mechanical ventilation.
(14) General dilapidation or improper maintenance.
(15) Lack of connection to required sewage disposal
(16) Lack of adequate garbage and rubbish storage and
removal facilities, as determined by a health officer or, if an
agreement does not exist with an agency that has a health officer,
the lack of adequate garbage and rubbish removal facilities can be
determined by a code enforcement officer as defined in Section 829.5
of the Penal Code.
(b) Structural hazards shall include, but not be limited to, the
(1) Deteriorated or inadequate foundations.
(2) Defective or deteriorated flooring or floor supports.
(3) Flooring or floor supports of insufficient size to carry
imposed loads with safety.
(4) Members of walls, partitions, or other vertical supports that
split, lean, list, or buckle due to defective material or
(5) Members of walls, partitions, or other vertical supports that
are of insufficient size to carry imposed loads with safety.
(6) Members of ceilings, roofs, ceiling and roof supports, or
other horizontal members which sag, split, or buckle due to defective
material or deterioration.
(7) Members of ceilings, roofs, ceiling and roof supports, or
other horizontal members that are of insufficient size to carry
imposed loads with safety.
(8) Fireplaces or chimneys which list, bulge, or settle due to
defective material or deterioration.
(9) Fireplaces or chimneys which are of insufficient size or
strength to carry imposed loads with safety.
(c) Any nuisance.
(d) All wiring, except that which conformed with all applicable
laws in effect at the time of installation if it is currently in good
and safe condition and working properly.
(e) All plumbing, except plumbing that conformed with all
applicable laws in effect at the time of installation and has been
maintained in good condition, or that may not have conformed with all
applicable laws in effect at the time of installation but is
currently in good and safe condition and working properly, and that
is free of cross connections and siphonage between fixtures.
(f) All mechanical equipment, including vents, except equipment
that conformed with all applicable laws in effect at the time of
installation and that has been maintained in good and safe condition,
or that may not have conformed with all applicable laws in effect at
the time of installation but is currently in good and safe condition
and working properly.
(g) Faulty weather protection, which shall include, but not be
limited to, the following:
(1) Deteriorated, crumbling, or loose plaster.
(2) Deteriorated or ineffective waterproofing of exterior walls,
roofs, foundations, or floors, including broken windows or doors.
(3) Defective or lack of weather protection for exterior wall
coverings, including lack of paint, or weathering due to lack of
paint or other approved protective covering.
(4) Broken, rotted, split, or buckled exterior wall coverings or
(h) Any building or portion thereof, device, apparatus, equipment,
combustible waste, or vegetation that, in the opinion of the chief
of the fire department or his deputy, is in such a condition as to
cause a fire or explosion or provide a ready fuel to augment the
spread and intensity of fire or explosion arising from any cause.
(i) All materials of construction, except those that are
specifically allowed or approved by this code, and that have been
adequately maintained in good and safe condition.
(j) Those premises on which an accumulation of weeds, vegetation,
junk, dead organic matter, debris, garbage, offal, rodent harborages,
stagnant water, combustible materials, and similar materials or
conditions constitute fire, health, or safety hazards.
(k) Any building or portion thereof that is determined to be an
unsafe building due to inadequate maintenance, in accordance with the
latest edition of the Uniform Building Code.
( l ) All buildings or portions thereof not provided
with adequate exit facilities as required by this code, except those
buildings or portions thereof whose exit facilities conformed with
all applicable laws at the time of their construction and that have
been adequately maintained and increased in relation to any increase
in occupant load, alteration or addition, or any change in occupancy.
When an unsafe condition exists through lack of, or improper
location of, exits, additional exits may be required to be installed.
(m) All buildings or portions thereof that are not provided with
the fire-resistive construction or fire-extinguishing systems or
equipment required by this code, except those buildings or portions
thereof that conformed with all applicable laws at the time of their
construction and whose fire-resistive integrity and
fire-extinguishing systems or equipment have been adequately
maintained and improved in relation to any increase in occupant load,
alteration or addition, or any change in occupancy.
(n) All buildings or portions thereof occupied for living,
sleeping, cooking, or dining purposes that were not designed or
intended to be used for those occupancies.
(o) Inadequate structural resistance to horizontal forces.
"Substandard building" includes a building not in compliance with
However, a condition that would require displacement of sound
walls or ceilings to meet height, length, or width requirements for
ceilings, rooms, and dwelling units shall not by itself be considered
sufficient existence of dangerous conditions making a building a
substandard building, unless the building was constructed, altered,
or converted in violation of those requirements in effect at the time
of construction, alteration, or conversion.
SEC. 3. No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to
Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because
the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school
district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or
infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty
for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the
Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the
meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California
California's Mold Law - SB 655