There’s an expression about not making a mountain out of a molehill — it refers to there being no need to overreact to situations for which there is a simple solution. But a MOLD hill … that’s something different entirely. Any hill, patch or clump of mold of any size deserves your immediate attention if you are a landlord, because depending on what caused the mold to grow, liability can fall upon you if a tenant becomes ill.
Moisture is a key contributor to the growth of mold in buildings. Mold also requires high relative humidity, and an organic food source, which is provided by many building materials. Eliminating moisture is the easiest way to control mold growth, and a landlord who fails to address a moisture or water issue after being notified about it might be held liable. The situations in which a landlord could be expected to take steps to eliminate the water source include (but are not limited to):
- A leaky roof
- Leaky pipes
- A musty smell
- Broken windows
- Damaged siding
- A broken humidifier
Many people are sensitive to molds and can have severe reactions. While causation of a severe illness can be difficult to prove, any litigation that results from a mold issue could tie you up in court and lead to tenant loss.
There are a number of steps to take to minimize the damage from mold after a water “event” such as flooding or a burst pipe. Most important to know is that action must be taken within 24 to 48 hours, and a mold remediation company can help. Other basics include:
- Make repairs/eliminate the water source ASAP
- Temporarily move the tenant if necessary.
- Wear protective clothing when confronting mold.
- Meet EPA guidelines in carrying out remediation efforts.
- Document all remediation efforts in case there is litigation
The accompanying infographic outlines these steps and more. It also includes tips to help landlords prevent mold issues from occurring in the first place. Awareness about mold issues can help eliminate an uphill battle — one with a much steeper climb than a molehill.
American Apartment Owners Association is the largest landlord association in the country. They offer a large range of services including credit checks, rental applications, landlord forms, and tenant screening. AAOA’s mission is to provide superior property management services that will equip landlords to better manage their investment properties.