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If You Have a Tenant Complaint About Mold

To limit environmental liability it is necessary for an Environmental Consultant to create documentation as though every case was going to trial.
That's exactly what we do.

It is important the problem seen by the tenant is clearly identified. We use a Questionnaire; if the Tenant would fill this out it memorializes the areas and reasons for Tenant concerns. The Questionnaire coupled with our Mold Status Report, and if needed, a Mold Remediation Report will bring comfort/closure to your Tenant and/or your attorney. Call Paul Hitchcock, Barth Calderon, if you have questions or concerns about liability from a potential mold situation.

We frequently receive subpoenas for Production of Documents for lawsuits. Approximately 90% of those cases settle based upon our submitted documents and your counsel. The other 10% settle at a settlement conference/mediation/arbitration. 

Our contractual responsibility is not to disclose any information without the client’s consent.

 

Landlord Tenant Property Condition Checklist

This first step is very important. An initial walkthrough should be done with the landlord and the tenant at the same time to record the condition of the unit. Photos and videos are great! A video that includes the ceilings, walls, doors, windows and floors of all locations may become very important.  A second walkthrough is recommended when the tenant(s) move out. Again, take photos/videos of everything. Ideally, the tenants and the landlord would do this final walkthrough together. A move-in video or photos should settle most reasonable concerns/disputes about the return of a security deposit.  Some items on our list include:
  • indoor temperature control units working properly (furnace/air conditioning)
  • working exhaust fans in kitchen and all baths
  • windows  functioning properly and forming a tight seal when close
< br> It is recommended the lease or rental agreement gives the tenant directions to report any water intrusion or plumbing leaks immediately. If professional drying begins within 24-48 hours the probability of mold growth is reduced. Often landlords will have American Air Testing inspect a unit before a tenant moves in. This is a great way to document all issues present before tenancy. Environmental liability can often be limited by installing a humidistat in a small bath that will automatically turn on when relative humidity exceeds 52%. This reduces a favorable environment for mold growth. Here’s a link to John’s Landlord Tenant Property Condition Checklist

Renters Insurance to Limit Liability

Due to the potential cost of damages in the event of a water event and toxic mold growth, landlords may not be able to immediately cover the costs for their renters. Requiring tenants to obtain renters insurance usually solves this problem. Tenants should name landlords as additionally insured. You may with to speak with your legal counsel or email Paul Hitchcock, Barth Calderon for competent legal advice on correctly integrating this insurance clause into your lease.

Commercial property insurers are not known for immediate payments to landlords/property owners. In acrimonious situations, damp, mold-affected clothing and possessions can remain stored at a remediation company for months or years. This becomes very expense for both the landlord and the tenant. The tenant may need to relocate and replace clothing or other possessions. 

The tenant may have caused the problem and the landlord wishes to recover damages from the tenant. If the landlord/property owner is listed as additionally insured, then recovery is probably simplified. Please check with legal counsel.

No water, no elevated humidity = no mold growth

Have a clause in your lease that requires tenants to notify you or the property manager of any leaks – rain from a failed window, shower overflow, water from an adjacent unit, etc. within 24 hours or other reasonable time. Again, have legal counsel review your proposed lease.
If professional drying begins with in 24-48 hours of a water event, there is a better chance of no mold growth

Do Not Use Fans to Limit Liability

When mold growth is present a fan will blow the mold spores throughout the adjacent areas that may include the HVAC.

Fans may be used if the area is under containment. Containment can be a closed door or a plastic walls, floor to ceiling; as long as there is ventilation for the moist air. Fans, correctly used, will removed moisture from effected building materials. The moist air must be evacuated for fans to be effective.

Dehumidifiers are recommended in most cases. This, if professionally done, will quickly extract water from floors, walls, and ceilings. 

Remember you need to ventilate the moist air out or you may cross contaminate the area or the HVAC/heating system. Your neighbors will appreciate if that moist air is filtered before released outside.

Space heaters are dangerous. Don’t have a fire or possible electrocution after a flood by trying to dry things out yourself, whether you are a landlord or a tenant.

Cleaning up water spills inside inhabited areas including contents is a job for professionals. Call us for a list of Environmental Contractors.

 

Before You Rent

  • If you still smell a musty odor after cleaning and airing out the apartment, then I should be called.
  • If professional drying begins within 24-48 hours after the clean water spill, then an professional environmental consultant should not be called. However, if there is any musty odor, then a professional environmental consultant that is licensed to inspect for asbestos should be called before any removal begins.
  • If you see discoloration or a dark line above the baseboards or below the crown molding, an environmental consultant should be called.
  • Don’t allow a move-in if there is any question of mold growth in the unit. Cleaning tenant contents is costly.