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Dangers of Mold
Although microscopic, Mold can be an ongoing menace to landlord and tenant alike. The disruption is bad enough, but the potential exposure to mold in residences has also been linked to significant health concerns including respiratory illness. When dealing with a rental property the concerns extend beyond the tenant to both the property owner and manager as well. In addition to cleanup costs, there could be costly and lengthy lawsuits, vacancies and a damaged reputation.
If you are a landlord or property manager, you should know that you are not always liable for mold issues.
A Look at the Legal Side
Laws and regulations not only vary from state to state, but from city and county as well. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has no regulations or standards regarding mold contamination, but some states and cities have addressed mold either directly or under regulations pertaining to indoor air quality, properties being habitable, or as a legal nuisance.
Landlords and property managers should proceed with caution when they are aware of legal action. While most molds are harmless, some people are sensitive to them, and even the CDC acknowledges that people with sensitivities can have intense reactions.
In instances when the damage or injury caused by mold contamination is due solely to the tenant’s negligence, landlords are not necessarily liable. However, defending yourself in a lawsuit can be costly. Therefore check with your state’s Public Health agencies and local city government to learn of any regulations or guidelines that might increase your liability.
Who’s Responsibility is Mold Prevention?
Mold issues traditionally begin with excess moisture. Some potential sources are renter responsibilities while others may relate to the building or a neighbor. Encourage your tenants to:
• Keep residence well-ventilated to prevent high humidity
• Use exhaust fans and vent dryers
• Wipe away any condensation
• Report any suspected water damage or suspect mold growth immediately
Landlords, meanwhile, must proactively monitor and maintain these issues, at a minimum:
• Leaking roofs
• Leaking windows
• Leaking pipes
• Foundation leaks/seepage
Address these issues as soon as possible. Once materials become water-soaked — whether it’s wood, drywall or furniture — mold growth may begin in less than 48 hours and will require extensive remediation should it begin to grow.
Who Must Handle Mold Cleanup?
The cause of the contamination should be the initial determining factor. Remediation efforts should be addressed before the mold growth turns into a major problem and should always be done by a licensed providor. For a list of certified professionals inspectors visit this page and for a list of remediation contractors visit here.
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