Landlords: Mold is Killing Your Tenants, and Your Bank Account!
Mold in buildings is an unfortunate reality for many landlords. Mold can start to grow within just a day or two if it is exposed to lots of moisture, such as a leak or a major spill.
Water damage, mold, and mildew are not just unsightly and unpleasant. It can be quite dangerous to your tenant’s health and wellbeing, it will also create expensive financial and legal situations. When a tenant complains of mold in their apartment, it is likely because it is heavily visible or because there are areas that have a strong “mildew” smell.
At this point, it can be quite expensive to remove the mold – and it may even require a full renovation. But landlords stand to lose a lot more than just repair costs when it comes to mold in apartment housing buildings.
Mold is Extremely Dangerous to Tenant’s Health
Mold grows best in dark, damp areas. So, it will often grow in crawl spaces, in bathrooms, under the kitchen sink, or even in HVAC systems. Mold produces spores, which can be released into the air. If a person breathes in this air repeatedly, the toxins will enter their bloodstream and cause health problems. Some types of mold are toxic and prolonged exposure to them can cause severe health problems – or even death.
Now, not all types of mold are detrimental to a person’s health. About 25% of people will have an allergic reaction to mold, with symptoms like sneezing, watery eyes, and congestion. These are called Allergenic molds and they can also trigger asthma attacks.
Pathogenic molds may cause some types of infections or diseases. People with weakened immune systems are often more susceptible to these issues. Typically, most people with pathogenic mold-related sickness are children, the elderly, or people with underlying health conditions.
Toxic molds are poisonous and can cause severe health problems or even death if ingested through the air or even by touch. Here are the most common types of toxic mold:
- Stachybotrys: Commonly called black mold, this is one of the most dangerous and destructive types of mold. It causes severe lung problems and can be deadly. It most commonly grows in hidden places like between the drywall in the walls and ceiling.
- Aspergillus: This type of wood grows on wooden surfaces and is bright green in color. It can cause lung infections, severe asthma attacks, or hay fever.
- Penicillium: Although some species of Penicillium are used for medications and even cheese production, the type that grows in homes is quite dangerous. It will trigger major breathing problems in people with weak immune systems.
- Alternaria: This is one of the most common toxic molds found in a home. It can cause major troubles for people with asthma or immune system issues.
- Geotrichum: This type of mold appears to as a white, dusty powder that will quickly spread over surfaces. It can trigger severe allergy attacks and chronic headaches.
- Trichoderma: Not only will this mold totally destroy wood and textiles, but it can lead to liver and pulmonary infections.
- Ulocladium: You will often find this dark mold growing in bathrooms and kitchen areas after water damage. It can lead to skin infections, breathing issues, and hay fever.
- Fusarium: This mold often grows on carpets or wallpaper. Health issues from this mold often start as allergy symptoms, but it can have severe consequences. Exposure to this mold has caused brain abscesses, bone infections, internal bleeding, and damage to the nervous system.
- Chaetomium: Another type of black mold, Chaetomium can lead to neurological issues and even cause autoimmune diseases.
Unfortunately, tenants may not realize that mold in their apartment is the root cause of their health troubles until it is too late. And at that point, the tenants will likely point the blame at their landlords.
Landlords can be Held Accountable for Mold
The landlord, property manager, or owner of an apartment building can be held legally responsible if mold growth causes medical issues with their tenant(s). Just earlier this year, a property management company had to pay a $48 million settlement to their tenant who developed a chronic disease from mold infestation.
According to the tenant’s lawyer, the property management firm was negligent regarding the numerous complaints about roof leaks and water damage. Even though the tenant notified the landlord about water intrusion multiple times, nothing was ever done to stop or repair the damage.
This eventually caused mold to grow beneath the roof and unfortunately caused the tenant to develop serious medical issues. This has left the tenant permanently disabled.
This is not the first time that a property management firm has been sued due to mold in apartment buildings. In 2001, the Mazza family was awarded a $2.7 million settlement from their property management company. Their case was quite similar as their apartment started to develop leaks, this time from the toilet and sprinkler system.
Although the tenants alerted their landlord about the issue, nothing was done. Toxic mold developed in the carpets, crawlspaces, and walls and caused numerous health issues in all of the family members.
Now, both of these property management companies were certainly quite negligent when it came to handling mold issues and water damage. This is what eventually leads to such expensive payouts and lengthy court cases.
However, landlords can still be sued for lesser amounts if any mold is found in an apartment building. In 2016, California passed a law that makes “visible mold code enforceable as substandard housing.”
Tenants have the legal right to sue their property manager if mold damage is found in their apartment which could be linked to:
- Any related health issues
- Lost wages due to health conditions
- Repair costs from any remediation taken by the tenant
- Mold-related damage not covered by renter’s insurance
- Pain and suffering
So, what can landlords do to prevent this from happening?
How You Can Prevent Mold Issues in Rental Properties
The absolute best way to avoid any legal issues with tenants regarding mold in apartment buildings is to have the unit thoroughly inspected. It is often impossible to find traces of mold with a simple visual test – plus, it often grows in very hidden places.
A professional mold inspection service will collect samples from the carpet, walls, and even the air to check for any presence of mold spores. Inspectors take videos and photos and use state-of-the-art technology like thermal imaging and moisture testing devices. This helps them to pinpoint exactly where the mold is growing and what is causing the growth.
All of the mold samples are then sent to an Unbiased 3rd party AIHA Certified laboratory to determine the type of toxins. The comprehensive inspection and the laboratory results will allow the Hygienist to provide you with a written report that will outline the necessary scope of work that is needed to remediate the mold infestation. If elevated levels of toxic mold are present, proper remediation will be necessary to eradicate all traces of the mold.
It is highly recommended that all landlords schedule a thorough mold inspection for their units before a new tenant moves in. Additionally, an inspection should be scheduled within 24-48 hours after any water damage is reported, such as a pipe leak.
Mold can form within just one day on damp, dark surfaces. So, the moment that a tenant notifies you of a leak, spill, flood, or any water-related issues, it is important to conduct a mold inspection. The sooner you find any mold presence, the sooner you can resolve the issue and avoid expensive legal troubles.
Over to You
You need to have a reliable, trustworthy mold inspection service you can call to give you accurate results of all your rental properties. Guaranteed Property & Mold Inspections has serviced the Southern California area for over 20 years now. We use the latest technology for truly precise mold inspection results that property managers can use to resolve mold issues and use for legal purposes, too.
We will even provide evidence to support your case should any tenants file complaints or lawsuits against your property management company for mold-related negligence. Having proof of thorough mold inspections can help you avoid expensive payouts.
If you want to schedule a mold inspection or have any questions about GPM Inspection’s services, contact us today!