Landlords Beware of Mold
Landlords Beware of Mold
In this economy, EVERYONE is trying to tighten their purse strings.

But sometimes a penny saved is not a penny earned. If you don’t get the job done right the first time, you’ll probably have to do the job again, and you could find yourself in a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

So here’s the skinny on how to save money AND protect yourself.

Let’s start with the basics. If a property is not dried correctly, you could end up with a microbial situation with the dreaded brown/grey fuzzies called mold. Although it may seem thorough, removing carpet and pad when there’s been a flood or water damage is usually not enough to prevent mold. You can’t see any water, the walls look dry, your carpet cleaning company who extracted the water tells you everything is fine. We’ve all been there.

Be careful. You could be sitting on a bomb just waiting to explode.

Why? Because every 30 minutes water sits in a property, water wicks up the drywall at least 1 inch. Water also moves into the wall cavities and penetrates insulation and studs. This is the nature of water and it’s what makes it so dangerous, especially since you can’t see it.

This water that has crept into the wall cavity is what causes mold. Mold likes dark, wet places. So the water is sitting in the wall cavity and the mold is starting to grow. But it all looks dry and you’re glad you got that job handled so quickly and economically.

A few months later you get a call from the same tenant. “My house smells funny. I think it’s mold!”

Now it’s time for part 2 – Mold remediation. Think of mold like an iceberg. The part you can see is only a small part of it. By the time you can see mold on a wall, your tenants may already be complaining about health issues because they’ve been breathing mold spores everyday for a while. And we all know what comes next. The ugly words “sue” and “my lawyers” get thrown around.

By not ensuring the property is dried properly, you have opened yourself up to a law suit. If you had recommendations of procedures from a professional water damage company and neglected to do so, it’s not going to look good in court. That means the buck you saved on the water damage job will cost you three fold in mold remediation and additional restoration that would not have been needed if it was dried properly the first time. In addition to these expenses, you may be looking at potential legal fees and the liability of paying out for health issues.

Another issue I have seen lately includes all of the issues above, but with the additional liability of being a category 3 (black water) flood. This means it is contaminated water (normally sewage) with the possibility of viruses and bacteria, which can and usually does, make a person sick.

Category 3 floods need to be treated seriously. Materials that black water has touched must be removed, baseboards, drywall, carpet and pad. When these materials are being removed, protective equipment should be worn to ensure inhalation of these contaminates does not occur. Remaining materials must then be decontaminated. It is further recommended that testing be performed prior to any materials being put back. Why? To ensure no contaminates are left in the indoor environment. This protects landlords from future suits.

Many landlords would like to think this couldn’t happen to them, but let’s face it, if you choose not to dry your property correctly, you are responsible. Ask yourself if it is worth the dollar saved now to pay more later? Ask yourself if you want to be the person responsible for the degradation of the health of your renter? When it comes to indoor air quality and the health of your renters, our recommendation is to treat water damage or mold as if it occurred in your home.