Mold has been around for a long time. Literally as long as there have been living organisms. Therefore, it may seem strange that it has become such an important and potentially dangerous issue. However, mention the possibility of the existence of mold to any reputable Property Manager, it gains immediate and urgent attention.

What constitutes mold and why is it a serious problem?

Mold is actually found everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Although there are thousands of different species, there are generally five types of mold found in homes. Penicillium, Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Stachybotrys, commonly known as black mold. It is the “black mold” that is considered the most dangerous of molds, but no type of mold should be ignored. In addition, “black mold” does not necessarily appear black, which can be deceiving, and any mold can appear dark.

Too much exposure to a toxic mold can cause serious health problems such as sinus and nasal infections, coughing, sore throat, skin abrasions, eye irritations, and upper respiratory infections. It can trigger other health issues such as asthma or hay fever.

What causes mold?

Mold comes from many sources, but it does need three things to grow and continue – light, moisture, and a food source. Food source does not necessarily mean something like old pizza. It can be carpet, carpet pad, wallpaper glue, building materials, and more.

Mold can come from leaking plumbing, running toilets, condensation and steam, roof leaks, moisture, flooding, poor drainage, poor ventilation and more. A family of four people can contribute 18 gallons of water a week to the air in their home. If not vented or handled properly, mold will form and become a problem.

What can prevent mold?

Keeping the property in good condition at all times is a key to mold prevention. Preventative measures are definitely more cost effective. Making sure plumbing works properly, and water is not collecting anywhere, can prevent a lot of mold problems.

Having adequate ventilation within the residence is also important. Working windows, heating, air conditioning are key factors. It’s much cheaper to retrofit windows than pay an attorney and a tenant for damages due to a mold settlement. Hire a professional to check the heating and air conditioning systems, making sure they include ducting, insulation, humidifiers, and vents.

What steps can be taken if mold is found?

First and of utmost importance, do NOT ignore any issue concerning mold. If you are notified that a mold situation exists, ask questions, and take the necessary steps that we advise. The courts will not accept a landlord who claims they had no knowledge of the mold, or that the property management company is responsible. This is where the landlord and the property management company must work as a team.
Next, the extent of the mold must be determined immediately to discern the type of mold, the severity, and how it can be treated. A mold specialist may have to be called to determine the type of mold and how it can be eradicated. There are often simple solutions for cleaning up mold. If not, a mold professional must be hired to handle the problem.

If the tenant is contributing or causing the mold problem, counseling the tenant may be the proper action to take while treating the mold, and then follow up with appointments to check for further evidence of mold.

The bottom line

Use common sense, practice preventative maintenance, and, if there is any question of mold, take immediate action. As your property management company we can assist and advise to prevent serious liability.

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