Clermont County Public Health investigates complaints about mold, water/plumbing leaks, water supply, and heating facilities at rental properties only. A complaint from a current occupant or a close relative of the occupant is required. The Health District will not accept a housing complaint from a former occupant due to legal and practical issues.
Once a rental unit is vacated most nuisance conditions which were valid when the unit was occupied are considered to be abated. A dwelling with a mold problem, for instance, is not a health nuisance if no one is living in it. However, a landlord should correct problems before re-renting the unit. If problems have not been corrected, then it is up to the next tenant to file a complaint.
Dilapidated buildings look unsightly, but this does not create a health nuisance issue. The Public Health cannot address concerns about paint, siding, gutters, or other matters relating to aesthetic issues or property values. Public Health can order the repair of an unsafe structure on the unoccupied property if it’s creating a public health nuisance.
Public Health does not regulate items such as appliances, air-conditioning units, or smoke detectors, and does not require that these items be provided or maintained in working condition. Public Health does not require the replacement of personal property which has been damaged by water infiltration, mold, or other conditions and does not require that items such as doors, cabinets, and other interior fixtures be maintained in good condition.
Contact the Clermont County Fair Housing Program at (513)-732-7286 about tenant/landlord rights issues or read Sections 5321.04 and 5321.05 of the Oho Revised Code.
Ten square feet or more of visible black mold in the living spaces of a dwelling, and an odor of mold (a musty odor) in the living spaces indicates a mold problem. If mold can neither be seen or smelled then the concentration is below a level that would pose a health risk to a normal, healthy person.
Clermont County Public Health does not sample for mold. A sanitarian determines if there is a mold problem visually, and by odor. If there is mold behind a wall or in a ceiling cavity where it cannot be seen or smelled then it does not pose a health risk. Mold growing in a wall space does not pose a health risk as long as there is no circulation of air between the wall space and the living space, such as would be produced by a hole.
Areas of a dwelling such as basements, attics, and garages are not usually considered living spaces, and mold in these areas does not normally create a health nuisance issue. Mold (and algae) on the outside of a building is not a health nuisance issue. Mold in the outdoor environment cannot be controlled, and is not regulated.
Removal of ten square feet or more of the visible black mold is generally the responsibility of the landlord, whereas removal of mold less than ten square feet in area is the responsibility of the tenant. The removal of mold from door frames, window frames, window sills, and bathroom fixtures is a normal housekeeping chore and is the tenant’s responsibility. If a tenant creates a situation where mold is allowed to develop, then it is the tenant’s responsibility to remove the mold.
Mold may grow behind furniture that has been placed too close to an outside wall. Restricted air circulation causes condensation to remain on the wall which promotes the growth of mold. Furniture should be moved about six inches away from walls to prevent this from happening.
Soot from burning candles may be deposited on cool surfaces and mistaken for mold. Burning only one candle per week can cause this to happen. Removal of soot and other dirt on wall surfaces is a normal housekeeping chore and is the tenant’s responsibility.
Mold may grow in closets or rooms that remain shut, have restricted air circulation, or are inadequately heated. Doors and vents should be left open to maintain air circulation, and prevent the growth of mold. Clothes dryers should be vented to the outside. Crawlspace vents should remain open.
When removing mold from hard surfaces, the affected area should first be thoroughly cleaned with detergent and water, then rinsed with clean water. The area can then be sanitized with a 10% solution of bleach in water. Care should be taken when using bleach: wear rubber gloves, and provide adequate ventilation, or wear a respirator.
The key to controlling mold is controlling moisture. Water leaks should be eliminated, and indoor humidity reduced. Fish tanks, improperly vented clothes dryers, and unvented showers introduce large amounts of moisture into the air. These sources of moisture can be controlled or eliminated. A dehumidifier is recommended for basements and basement apartments.
Public Health does not require mold removal or remediation in owner-occupied dwellings. Mold removal is not required in vacant dwellings.
Repair of plumbing leaks, roof leaks, foundation leaks, and other leaks are the responsibility of the landlord. The property owner is responsible for continuously maintaining all toilet fixtures, water supplies to fixtures, waste pipes from fixtures, sewer lines, and other containers or conductors of sewage or water in good operating condition, free from obstruction or leakage. It is the tenant’s responsibility to clean bathrooms and all bathroom fixtures.
Leaky basements and crawlspaces are common. A leaking basement or crawlspace is not a health nuisance issue as long as water does not accumulate. Clermont County Public Health requires that below-grade areas of a dwelling in rental units must be kept free of accumulations of water or sewage. Small puddles of water would not be considered a violation. Accumulations of water in rental units should be pumped out immediately, and conditions altered so that further accumulations are prevented. Sump pumps are recommended where needed and should be maintained in good operating condition.
Owners of rental properties are required to provide an adequate supply of potable water to tenants. A property owner may not rent a dwelling that does not have an adequate supply of potable water. The owner cannot shut off a water supply, or cause it to be shut off except for needed repairs, and the owner must notify the occupants in advance that the water will be shut off.
If water has been shut off due to non-payment of water bills Public Health cannot order the water company to resume water service. If water service is in the tenant’s name then it is the tenant’s responsibility to pay the water bill, and the Health District cannot order a landlord to pay it.
Public Health does not require homeowners to provide an adequate supply of potable water for themselves.
It is the responsibility of the property owner to provide an adequate source of heat, as well as maintain heating facilities in safe and good working condition, capable of providing a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit under ordinary winter conditions. If heating facilities in a rental unit are inadequate or break down the owner is required to provide an alternative source of heat.
In situations where tenants normally provide fuel for themselves, such as in single-family dwellings, Public Health cannot order a landlord to pay for fuel.
Public Health does not require homeowners to provide an adequate source of heat for themselves.