Finding mold in your rental unit is a cause for worry and anxiety especially since some household mold could pose danger to you and your family. In addition to potentially making you sick, mold can also weaken the ceilings, walls, and floor of your apartment, and if nothing else, it makes your apartment look disgusting when it is visible. Here is a detailed guide on what you can do when you detect mold in your rental unit.
What to do if you find mold in your apartment? When you find mold in your apartment, consider having your home tested so that you get to know what type of mold you are dealing, and the extent of the problem. Ask your landlord to hire a professional to do it for you so that they can conduct a thorough inspection to determine how far the mold has spread.
If you decide to handle the removal yourself, you want to be careful as possible not to inhale or touch the mold and potentially affect your health while also ensuring that you remove it in a manner that doesn’t allow it to spread to other parts of your home. Another option is to have your landlord hire a professional mold removal company to get rid of the mold on your behalf. You could also contact your insurance company to find out if mold removal is included in your policy. In many cases, it is usually covered depending on what caused the mold.
Mold is quite a common problem in many homes, and depending on the species, it could be quite harmful to your health. Here is a guide on what the law says about mold in rental units, signs to look out for, and how to prevent it from occurring in your apartment.
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Responsibility of the landlord according to the law
When you find mold in your apartment, you will obviously expect the landlord to pay for its removal. However, due to the expenses involved, some landlords are less than willing to handle the costs.
Laws regarding landlord liability when it comes to mold vary from state to state and region to region, so you will want to consult an attorney in your area if you want to know the specifics that apply in your location.
With only a few exceptions, the responsibilities of a landlord regarding mold are not clearly spelled in building regulations, codes, ordinances, or statutes. However, landlords can be held responsible for issues related to mold even when there are no specific laws on the matter.
There are no federal laws that set permissible amounts of mold or tolerance standards for mold in apartment buildings, and only a few states (including Texas, New Jersey, California, Indiana, Maryland, and Indiana) and cities have taken the necessary steps to establish the tolerance standards for mold and regulations for mold present in indoor air.
Even if your city or state does not have laws regarding mold, your landlord is required to provide safe and livable housing. Some of the general regulations in most states regarding a landlord’s responsibility regarding mold include:
- Landlords are required to notify tenants about the presence of mold in an apartment before they sign the lease.
- Landlords have to remove mold from a property and are expected to cover the cost of removal if the mold is due to negligence by the landlord. For example, if a leaky pipe, roof, or window results in a mold issue in your apartment, the landlord would have to cover the cost of mold removal since it is their responsibility to maintain a fit and habitable unit and carry out repairs. If your landlord refuses to pay for removal of the mold, the landlord may be liable if you prove to a court that the mold has resulted in health issues.
- If the presence of mold in your apartment is your own doing, (for example, if you left your windows open during a downpour and your carpet got wet resulting in the growth of mold), the landlord cannot be held responsible in case the mold affects your health, and you will also be expected to cover the cost of removing the mold.
How to detect mold in your apartment
Signs to look out for – There are various signs that may indicate a potential mold problem in your apartment. They include:
1. Mold smell
One of the most common ways that mold can be detected is through its smell. Mold has a distinct musty and damp smell, and in some cases, this may be the only clue you have of mold presence especially if it is hidden away. If you sniff out the mold, an inspection should be your first priority so as to prevent the problem from getting worse.
2. Visible mold growth
Sometimes mold exists in plain sight, although it is not uncommon to assume that mold is dirt or soot. If you see signs of mold growth, even if it is not extensive, you will want to take care of the problem as soon as possible. Mold easily spreads and it can quickly an expensive problem to control. Additionally, visible mold growth could be an indication that there is a more extensive mold colony that is hidden away.
3. Water leaks
If there have been water leaks (leaking pipes or ceiling) in your apartment, mold could be growing in the area where the leak occurred. Mold growth that results from water leaks is often hidden, so even if you don’t see signs of water damage, you will still want to get your apartment checked out.
4. Past flooding
If you have experienced flooding in your apartment in the past, it is highly likely that mold could have started to develop. Mold will probably grow in areas of your apartment where the water remained the longest, so that is where you should start your search.
5. Moisture intrusion
Some of the signs to look out for that may indicate a potential moisture problem in your apartment include discoloration or water stains on the ceilings or walls. Other indications of a moisture issue include peeling, bubbling or cracking of your wallpaper or paint and warped or bulging walls. Another sign to take note of is if your walls feel damp.
6. Health issues
Exposure to mold could result in both allergic and toxic symptoms in the tenant. Some of the common allergic reactions that may indicate the presence of mold include sore eyes, constant sneezing, and nasal congestion or a runny nose. If you notice that your allergic reactions tend to worsen when you are within your apartment, there is a high chance that there is mold growth. Some symptoms that may occur due to exposure to toxic mold include respiratory problems, skin inflammation, dizziness, immune system suppression, and skin inflammation among others.
Testing for mold – Even if there are visible signs of mold in your apartment, you should still consider getting it tested by a professional mold tester. It is important to be informed on the mold species that you are dealing with so as to determine how serious the problem is. Most mold testers will go a step further and give your apartment a thorough inspection in order to determine the extent of the mold. If it is a minor issue, the tester may recommend cleaning it up on your own and give you advice on how to go about mold removal. If it is an extensive task that will require a mold removal service, the mold tester should ideally oversee the cleanup as well as supervise the removal. Once the cleanup has been completed, the mold tester should conduct another test to ensure that the removal was done properly.
How to prevent mold
The best approach when it comes to mold issues is preventing mold growth before it becomes an issue. Mold thrives anywhere where there is moisture, so if you want to prevent it, moisture control is key. Here are the strategies you can use to control moisture indoors.
- Dry the wet areas of your apartment immediately – Remember to dry your walls and floor after a shower. Avoid leaving wet items lying around, and get rid of water-damaged carpets, bedding, and rugs.
- Improve air circulation in your apartment – Your routine tasks could be contributing to the growth of mold in your apartment. Ensure that activities such as taking showers, doing laundry, or cooking meals don’t invite mold by allowing adequate air circulation in your home. Use air conditioning units, but remember to check and clean them on a regular basis. For more energy efficiency, simply open your windows for better air circulation.
- Monitor humidity indoors – Indicators of excessive humidity in your apartment include condensation on the windows and walls. Invest in a dehumidifier to keep the condensation at bay and consequently prevent the potential growth of mold.
- Fix leaks immediately – If there are any leaks in your apartment, ask your landlord to fix them as soon as possible so as to reduce the chances of mold developing in your apartment.
Mold occurrence in your apartment can be quite dangerous to your health, so it is important to alert your landlord as soon as you find it. If you suspect the presence of mold, consider calling in a professional mold tester to determine if it is harmful and the extent of its development. All in all, it is important to be informed on the signs of mold and when your landlord could be liable for its occurrence.