Whether you’re a landlord or property owner, one of the worst things you can face in a rental property is mold. A menace to the health of tenants and the bane of property owners, mold has the power to cause a number of respiratory problems and allergies for tenants as well as countless renovations and repairs for landlords. If mold moves in, tenants will move out — fast.
If you’ve discovered mold in your rental property, here’s what you need to know about it and how to get rid of it effectively.
Mold: the basics
If you’ve never had to deal with mold before, here’s a helpful primer that will answer your most basic questions.
What is mold?
Mold, and its close cousin mildew, is a fungi that grows in damp, dark spaces. It releases spores into the air that can cause allergies and respiratory problems if inhaled regularly. When they’re outside, mold and mildew work to break down organic materials in nature, such as fallen leaves, twigs and logs. While they’re both essential in nature, they’re both dangerous nuisances at home.
Mold can grow very quickly. All it needs is the right conditions and about 24 hours to start growing. If you spot a leak or a tenant notifies you of a leak, don’t wait to see how bad it gets.
Where does mold grow?
Mold thrives in dark and damp spaces that are also humid. Spaces with poor ventilation can also spawn mold growth. Mold doesn’t need much encouragement to start growing. It just needs the right space and conditions.
In most rental properties, you’ll find mold growing in basement units and bathrooms as well as under kitchen and bathroom sinks. Basements often have poor ventilation, and a leak can bring in humidity. Bathrooms are naturally mod humid, especially if they don’t have an exhaust fan, and the spaces under kitchen sinks can be just cool and damp enough to allow mold to grow if there is a leak.
What kind of issues does mold cause?
Mold can cause a variety of health issues, depending on whether a tenant is allergic to it or not. In general, prolonged mold exposure can lead to:
- Stuffy nose
- Red eyes
- Itchy skin and eyes
For those with allergies or asthma, mold can cause fevers as well as shortness of breath. Prolonged exposure can lead to life-long problems, so the fewer mold spores you inhale, the better.
How to prevent in a rental property: renter
Mold can crop up unexpectedly and in well-kept rental properties. If you’re facing a mold problem in your rental property, here’s what you need to do:
Alert your landlord or property management company
As soon as you spot signs of mold (it’s usually soft, fuzzy and black, brown or green), you need to call your landlord or property management company immediately. There may be a leak somewhere that needs to be repaired, but if someone can come and repair it quickly, then the mold may be stopped in its tracks.
Take preventative action
Sometimes, there’s only so much you, a renter, can do to prevent mold. Mold can quickly if the conditions are just right. If you see mold growing or a leak anywhere on the property, alert your landlord or property management company right away. If you’re bathrooms with showers or tubs do not have exhaust fans, crack windows or keep the door cracked to allow air and steam to move through the room.
Keep cleaning tools on hand
While you should alert your landlord or property management company if you find mold, you can take care of small batches. You will need: protective rubber gloves, brushes, buckets, mold or mildew cleaner and disinfectant chlorine bleach. First, put on your gloves to protect your skin from the harsh chemicals. Then spray the section where the mold is growing with the cleaner. You may need a scrub brush to get rid of it thoroughly. Once it’s gone, spray the area down with a disinfectant chlorine bleach. This will help get rid of any remaining mold spores and prevent it from coming back.
If the mold is making you ill: Do not try to get rid of it yourself. Inform your landlord and stay out of that area of the property. You can either close it off or stay with a friend or family member until the mold has been removed.
How to fight mold in a rental property: landlord
For landlords facing mold issues, the faster you act, the less damage there will be. The minute you receive word from your tenant that mold is growing in your rental property, then you need to act.
Call a plumber
Somewhere, there is a leak in your rental property that is probably causing water to gather and allow mold to grow. Unless you stop the source of the leak, the mold will keep coming back, and you’ll have to get rid of it again and again.
Once you hear from your renter, get a plumber out to your property to inspect the area where the mold is growing. Even if you don’t have a leak, a plumber will be able to tell you how and where moisture is growing. You’ll have a better chance of preventing mold in the future if you know why it is growing in one place.
Install exhaust fans
In bathrooms with no windows or down in basements, it’s easy for moisture to gather and mold to grow. The steam from the shower will build, and with nowhere for the steam and moisture to go, it will stay and settle in the bathroom, allowing mold to grow.
If you don’t already have one, invest in an exhaust fan in your bathrooms, even if you have a window that can be opened while a renter is bathing. It can be an expensive investment, but mold removal can be even more expensive, especially if you have to do it year after year.
Dry a space thoroughly after flooding
Flooding isn’t too common in Washington, DC, but it can certainly happen.
If your basement or property has flooded, then any moisture trapped somewhere may allow mold to grow. You may be anxious to get a tenant back in your rental property, but don’t let them move in unless the space dries completely. If you have to battle mold after a flood, then you will be in for an expensive and long repair.
Use fans to make sure that the space dries entirely. Open up the windows to keep the air moving. Make sure all fabrics, especially carpets are completely dry.
Mold can be a formidable foe. If you’re not diligent about getting rid of it, then it can come back again and again.
With the Home Pros from Atlas Lane, you can feel confident that someone will always be available to help when mold is discovered. Reach out to us here and learn more about it.