Landlords are responsible for maintaining certain standards of living for their tenants. Before any property can be listed on the market, it must be deemed habitable, which means complying with local housing codes. One of the requirements is for a property to be free from hazardous mold.
Mold spores can trigger health problems such as asthma and other allergies, which can potentially result in million-dollar lawsuits from tenants. This is why landlords must eliminate mold as quickly as possible.
In this article, we’ll share with you everything you need to know about mold, as well as how you can get rid of it.
What is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus that can be found both indoors and outdoors. Outside mold releases tiny spores into the air, which can enter your home through doors, windows, and other openings. Mold can also thrive in moist environments such as damp basements, as well as warm areas of 77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Mold can grow on virtually any surface including carpets, fabric, upholstery, wallpaper, and glass.
There are over 300,000 types of mold, but there are four indoor molds that are common in homes: Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium.
- Alternaria – thrives in damp areas indoors (e.g. showers, leaky sinks)
- Aspergillus – grows on dead leaves, grain, decaying vegetation, foods, and spices
- Cladosporium – grows in warm and cool areas, but typically on fabrics and wood
- Penicillium – usually found in water-damaged areas
Mold can appear as white, black, blue, yellow, or green. Some types of mold have a fuzzy or velvety texture.
What Causes Mold in Rental Properties?
#1 Poor Ventilation
A poorly ventilated rental puts your property at risk of mold. Remember, mold thrives in stagnant and humid air, which is why it’s important to allow fresh air to circulate inside the property. The easiest way to improve your property’s ventilation is by opening the windows during the day. For damp areas like the bathroom, it’s important to install a vent fan to improve indoor air quality.
#2 Leaking Pipes
One of the most common causes of mold growth is a leaking pipe. Because liking pipes are usually hidden inside walls or in ceilings, they are not easy to detect. By the time you discover the leak, mold will have already started to grow. To prevent this from happening, it’s best to have your property regularly inspected by a professional plumber.
If your rental property is situated in a flood-prone area, the chances of mold growth are even higher. It will take your property weeks to dry out, which is enough time for mold to start growing. An area needs to be moist for only 24 hours for mold to grow.
Before investing in any property, it’s ideal to have a professional property manager assess the location to determine the risks involved.
The basement is the most poorly ventilated area in any property. This means that they are more humid and moist than other rooms, increasing the possibility of mold growth. Also, basements are usually damp, dark, and cold — the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. And if you don’t have a basement waterproofing system, you’re more likely to find mold.
Common Signs That Your Property Has Mold Problems
#1 Dark Spots on Exposed Surfaces
During your regular property inspection, look for any signs of dark-colored spots on exposed surfaces such as walls, floors, and ceilings. Focus on damp and moist areas such as the basement. Also, inspect the attic — this is where you’ll find the first signs of mold caused by a leaky roof.
#2 Musty Smells
Mold has a musty odor that you can’t miss. If a pungent smell fills your rental property, consider other sources first. Bad smells can be caused by many things — it might just be a stinky carpet! If the smell lingers after ruling out other possible causes, check hard-to-reach areas where mold usually grows such as behind curtains, above ceiling tiles, and inside walls.
#3 Tenant Complaints
If your tenants complain about experiencing symptoms such as uncontrollable sneezing, shortness of breath, irritated eyes, runny nose, etc., this may indicate that mold is present in your rental property. Certain molds, specifically black mold, produce mycotoxins which can result in health problems such as asthma and other respiratory conditions. Remember, as the landlord, you are legally responsible for removing all traces of mold. If you don’t take action, your tenant can sue you for mold exposure.
How to Get Rid of Mold in Your Rental Property
Household mold can be removed using bleach, but only if the mold has not spread to porous surfaces such as carpets and furniture. Before attempting to remove mold, make sure to protect yourself with a mask, goggles, gloves, and boots.
As a rule of thumb, you should throw away items that have been touched by mold if they are impossible to clean. It’s better to replace mold-covered objects than to risk inhaling their toxic spores. For mold-damaged drywalls, flooring, and ceiling tiles, it’s best to replace them entirely.
Scrub nonporous surfaces such as tables with bleach or a mixture of detergent and water. Dry the surfaces completely.
To be on the safe side, it’s ideal to hire mold professionals who can accurately identify the types of mold that they’re dealing with. They’ll safely seal off the area to prevent mold spores from dispersing throughout the property. Fortunately, your home insurance cover mold on a case-by-case basis. This means you don’t have to pay thousands of dollars for professional mold removal.
Your Tenant’s Role
The best way to prevent mold growth is by encouraging your tenant to report signs of mold the moment that they see them. This allows you to find the source of mold before it can turn into a severe problem. This aspect of property management will take time, which is why you should consider hiring a property management company.
Luxury Property Care conducts routine property inspections to prevent these kinds of problems. When you hire our property managers, you can have peace of mind knowing that we’ll catch problems before they can escalate.