Residents living in Fort Hood Family Housing continue to seek a resolution to issues involving mold within on-post housing. The Legal Assistance Office helps eligible clients by explaining the leases and interpreting resident’s responsibilities under their contract. To that end, below is the Legal Assistance Office’s interpretation of the new FHFH Mold Addendum. This interpretation is not the official interpretation of the Army or FHFH. This article is meant for informational purposes, and eligible clients should consult with Legal Assistance for further guidance.
In May 2019, FHFH posted a new Mold Addendum on its website. The Mold Addendum is a part of the Residential Lease Agreement that the landlord and residents sign before a resident moves in. The Mold Addendum outlines information about mold growth in residential homes, steps residents must take to prevent mold growth, and what mold issues residents must immediately report to the landlord. It also outlines what circumstances must exist for a resident to be temporarily relocated when mold is present in the home. Mold Addendums are not uncommon in Texas, and FHFH has been using them in leases since at least 2015. Many of FHFH’s terms and conditions are identical to the standard mold addendum used by the Texas Apartment Association. However, the new Mold Addendum may be considered a modification of residents’ original leases because it adds new terms and becomes the controlling agreement between the landlord and residents once signed. For this reason, it is critical that residents understand the Mold Addendum before they sign it.
The new Mold Addendum first provides information on mold growth and outlines preventative steps a resident must take to prevent mold growth. These steps are the same as those provided in previous mold addendums and are important for residents to understand and follow. For example, residents should keep their homes clean and safely remove small areas of mold themselves when they first begin to develop. Residents who do not follow the preventative steps may be held liable for damages to the rental property as well as their own personal property. Further, the new Mold Addendum makes clear that the landlord will not be liable for any personal injuries or damages to personal property arising from a resident’s failure to undertake the listed preventative measures.
In addition to preventative steps, the new Mold Addendum lists common maintenance issues that can lead to mold growth. Residents must immediately report these maintenance issues to the landlord so the landlord can take measures to prevent the mold from growing or spreading. Residents should report these mold issues both in writing and via service request calls. Reportable incidents include, but are not limited to, evidence of mold and water leaks resulting from rain, broken pipes, and/or overflowing appliances. The landlord is required to address these issues in accordance with Texas and federal guidelines.
Residents should also be aware of additional or modified terms in the new Mold Addendum. Under the “Termination of Tenancy” provision, the landlord may terminate the lease and a resident agree to move out if the landlord, in its sole judgment, believes that mold or mildew presents a safety or health risk to the resident. The landlord may also terminate the lease if it believes a resident’s “actions or inactions are causing a condition which is conducive to mold growth.” This is a new term from the standard lease and previous mold addendums because it unambiguously allows the landlord to terminate a lease if it believes a resident is not doing enough to prevent mold growth within the rental property.
Based on the Legal Assistance Office’s interpretation, the new Mold Addendum will effect both new and current residents. Residents signing new leases with FHFH will likely have to sign the new Mold Addendum as a term of the lease. Residents with pre-existing leases who do not sign the new Mold Addendum may not be bound by the new terms but will still be bound by the provisions set forth in the old mold addendum. Residents with questions about the Mold Addendum or their lease should contact the Fort Hood Legal Assistance Office to schedule an appointment with an attorney.