Indoor Air Quality Guide for Tenants




Overview of the Guide

Indoor air quality is an important part of a healthy home. Exposure to indoor pollutants – from lead-based paint and mold to secondhand smoke – can affect your health. Children, older adults, and people with asthma and other medical conditions may be especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of indoor air pollutants.

The Indoor Air Quality Guide for Tenants offers a starting point for tenants to learn more about indoor air quality (IAQ) in their homes. It describes common IAQ problems, explains what laws might apply to IAQ conditions in rental properties, and suggests where to look for more information and for assistance resolving IAQ problems.

Important Note! The guide does not provide legal advice and is not a substitute for consulting a lawyer about your own situation. Because rental housing laws are different from state to state, the guide does not describe the specific laws of each state or local community. The guide explains how to find out about the state and local laws where you live.



The guide is organized into five main parts and three Appendices.

PART 1: Learning About Common Indoor Air Quality Problems

There are many conditions and activities in a home that can affect indoor air quality.

  • Part 1 of the guide describes several common IAQ problems – mold/dampness, secondhand smoke, lead-based paint, pests/pesticides, radon, and inadequate ventilation.
  • See the bottom of this page for a link to additional information on indoor pollutants.
PART 2: Preventing and Fixing Indoor Air Quality Problems

There are steps you can take to maintain a healthy home. Preventing and fixing some IAQ problems will require action by the landlord. It is important that IAQ repairs are made promptly and correctly to reduce health risks and property damage.

  • Part 2 of the guide describes government agencies and other offices in a state or local community that might have information on how to prevent and fix IAQ problems.
  • See the bottom of this page for a link to additional information on the best practices for preventing and fixing IAQ problems.
PART 3: Understanding the Types of Laws that Address Indoor Air Quality in Rental Housing

State and local laws establish general health and safety standards for rental housing. Some laws might address specific IAQ conditions. The laws are different for each state and local community.

  • Part 3 of the guide describes three main types of state and local laws that might address IAQ in rental homes: housing codes, landlord-tenant laws, and laws on specific issues (such as smoking).
  • This part also describes federal laws that prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of disability.
PART 4: Finding Information About the State and Local Laws Where You Live

Because IAQ and rental housing laws are different from one state and local community to another, it is important to learn about the laws where you live.

  • Part 4 of the guide describes how to find written materials that explain what your state and local laws say about tenants’ legal rights and responsibilities. It also explains how to find your laws online.
PART 5: Resolving Disputes About Indoor Air Quality Problems

If you are not able to work with your landlord to fix an IAQ problem, there may be a local government agency that can help. You may also have private legal remedies if the landlord does not maintain the property or make repairs as the law requires.

  • Part 5 of the guide describes the local housing code enforcement process, and provides information on some possible sources of legal assistance.
APPENDIX A: State Laws on IAQ in Rental Housing: Overview and Examples

This Appendix gives a more detailed overview and examples of how some state laws address specific IAQ problems in rental housing.

APPENDIX B: Additional Housing Standards for Federally-Assisted Housing

This Appendix describes federal regulations that establish property maintenance standards for federally-assisted housing.

APPENDIX C: State and Local Model Programs for Addressing IAQ in Rental Housing

This Appendix describes model programs for: (1) improving the housing code inspection process, and (2) providing legal assistance for tenants in housing court.




For more information…..

Selected Resources for More Information on Indoor Air Quality includes links to written materials on indoor pollutants, including best practices for preventing and fixing IAQ problems.