When mold remediation is neglected over time, it can cause structural damage to your home and rental property and lead to allergic reactions, such as headaches, fatigue, sneezing, itchy throats, and coughing.
In a recent SingleKey survey, we asked tenants how quickly they thought landlords should act on mold removal once the tenant has made a report. Many of the survey respondents thought landlords should be prompt and responsive to a tenant’s complaint.
When tenants report mold growth, how fast should you act?
Mold growth can go undetected for months, so when a tenant reports the presence of mold, a property manager must act fast in assessing the problem. Hiring a professional is essential in evaluating what type of mold growth the rental unit has, how severe the problem is, and what is causing the mold spores to form.
Our survey gave four choices on a reasonable time frame that a landlord should act within once the tenant reports the mold. 65% of survey respondents agreed that landlords should act immediately, while 30% said that a landlord should address the complaint within 30 days.
According to the CDC, some of the more severe health issues and symptoms caused by exposure to mold include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Persistent headaches
If you hired a professional and the mold is hazardous to residents, you should notify your tenants and schedule a professional mold removal company immediately. All landlords must maintain habitable and safe living conditions. If a landlord blatantly fails to maintain safe living conditions, the tenant may take legal action against the landlord.
Depending on where you live, different regions may have different protocols and time frames for addressing less severe mold issues. In Alberta, landlords must meet the minimum housing and health standards and immediately resolve any dangers of mold.
According to the California Residential Building Code, a building with dampness and visible mold growth within habitable rooms, putting “life, limb, health, property, safety, or welfare of the public or the occupants” at risk, is declared a substandard building when assessed by a mold remediation professional or code enforcement officer.
Substandard conditions are when a building fails to meet the minimum standards.
In New York City, owners of residential buildings or residential properties must keep their tenant’s homes free of mold infestation and pests.
Average costs for mold removal
Mold growth may be innocuous if you can easily remove it with surface-level cleaners such as 70% isopropyl alcohol or bleach. Mold spores and severe mold contamination are created by dampness and should be treated by a professional mold removal service. Once a tenant detects the evidence of mold, they should report it to the landlord.
A mold inspection typically costs between $250 and $650. Many mold remediation specialists factor in the square footage and how severe the mold contamination is to provide estimates for removal.
The average cost to remove mold in a 10 to 100 square foot area is between $500 and $1,500. Eliminating mold in an entire room or basement can range between $6,000 to $15,000.
How to prevent mold infestations
Even after the mold is removed from the rental unit, a landlord still needs to examine what caused it. Otherwise, it’s likely to occur again and potentially cause property damage or pose health risks to residents.
Usually, mold grows in places where there is moisture. Check for a leaky pipe or leaks in the roof or windows. A leaky pipe or hot water heater can cause moisture issues that lead to a mold infestation.
Here are some steps you can take to prevent excess moisture and infestations:
- Conduct regular inspections to ensure a habitable living environment
- Indoor molds can take on a musty smell, which is a sign of mold growth
- Reduce the use of hot water to decrease humidity in the home
- Check the air conditioning unit for leaks
- Check for roof leaks. A leaky roof can cause mold
- Repair property damage to the roof or windows
- Repair water leaks in the house or basement
- Address water damage immediately
- Prevent the accumulation of moisture
- Install exhaust fans to help reduce humidity
- Add mold inhibitors to paint
- Look in areas with musty smells
- Dry flooded areas in your rental property quickly
- Follow all mold prevention guidelines
FAQ: Addressing mold in rental properties
Most property owners must follow safety and health codes and disclose any previous infestations in the lease agreement. Every state and region has different reforms that each landlord must follow. For instance, if mold growth becomes a health hazard, a landlord must remove it immediately in Florida and California. You can hire someone to conduct mold testing for black mold or for types of mold that can be problematic for a person’s physical health.
In Montana, the Mold Disclosure Act states that if a landlord or tenant detects any evidence of mold, the landlord must remove it to abide by housing codes. If the mold condition is severe, seek professional service, especially if it can potentially create hazardous conditions for tenants or the structural integrity of the rental home. Landlord responsibilities include maintaining habitable conditions for the tenants. If the property owner or landlord allows the growth of mold to become an infestation, that could be a health code violation. Landlords should respond to tenants’ mold complaints within a reasonable time period.
If the dwelling unit or home has become inhabitable due to indoor mold infestations, the tenant may find a legal recourse to end their tenancy prematurely without legal issues. Tenants and landlords should seek legal advice whenever there is a dispute between both parties. A tenant may call the health department if they feel the landlord is not maintaining habitable living conditions. Withholding rent is usually unjustifiable unless the tenant goes through the proper channels to report inhabitable conditions first.
Many people are unaffected by mold growth. For some, mold in apartments or homes can cause mild to severe allergic reactions, including runny nose, itching, continuous coughing, skin allergies, trouble breathing, and headaches.
Our final thoughts
As a landlord, reducing indoor moisture will help minimize the chance of indoor mold growth. Taking action on tenant complaints within a reasonable time will help preserve your reputation and, most importantly, retain quality tenants. SingleKey can help you locate your ideal tenant with an accurate and comprehensive Tenant Screening Report.