Mold is just like any other living organism. It needs a food source, moisture and air to survive. Its part of the decomposition process breaking down organic material and it feeds off of things such as wood, paper, fabrics, etc.; it cannot not grow on grout, caulking, fiberglass, metals, or other man-made products that do not contain organic materials. Black discoloration in bath tubs or shower it is usually mildew or bacteria which can be cleaned by simply using a bathroom cleanser.
Mold also needs moisture to survive. Without it, mold becomes dormant. Additionally, mold needs oxygen so that it can breath and reproduce by releasing spores into the air.
When mold becomes dormant, it is no longer releasing spores into the air. Spores are similar to seeds and they can be found everywhere, all the time. Different types of mold are more likely affect someone when compared to others. When dormant, the potential risk is greatly reduced.
The media has created a lot of hype about mold but the reality is that in most cases, it does not result in permanent side effects. In fact, when watching your local news channel, it is very likely that in the weather segment, they will let you know the mold content in the area referencing to it as an allergen. That is because mold is an allergen and your body reacts to it just like any other type of allergy. Some people are more sensitive than others. In most cases once someone has removed themselves from an environment containing mold, their body will typically recover quickly.
Mold is one of the biggest risks to a landlord or property management company which requires immediate response. Usually someone knowledgeable and experienced should step in, but the most important step a landlord can do is to follow up with the tenant daily, even if there really isn't anything new to report. This helps reassure the tenant that you are taking care of the problem and that their well being is a top priority. Following up regularly helps a landlord maintain control while preventing the tenant from becoming more upset which just makes things more difficult.
If the tenant requests a mold test, then schedule one right away
The last thing a landlord needs is to be accused of negligence, especially if its regarding something as sensitive as mold. Its best to react quickly if there is reason to suspect possible mold contamination. If you are not certain, then contact a mold remediator or contractor and ask them to look at it first. Let the professionals tell you what to do.
Its not uncommon for a tenant to complain about mold when in fact, there is really nothing to worry about. If this is the case, but a tenant insists on a mold test, the best thing for a landlord to do is to have one done. Inform the tenant that if the results come back indicating that there are no elevated levels of hazardous mold, that they will have to pay for the mold test.
Alternatively, the tenant can be informed that they have two options:
- Have a mold test performed, but they risk being charged for the test. Additionally, it usually takes a few days to schedule the test and another couple of days to get the results. This process could easily delay any needed repairs for a week.
- Send out a contractor or mold remediator to assess and repair the problem right away. Let the tenant know that the contractor is experienced in repair water damage and have worked on these types of problems before (which they should have if your going to trust them to repair it correctly). By selecting this option, the repairs may even be completed within a week, thus saving everyone time and money.
In many cases, the tenant will opt for the second option. They only care that the problem is fixed correctly and quickly. If a test is performed and everything comes back clean, provide a copy of the report to the tenant and have a contractor or remediation company clean up the concerned area immediately taking before and after pictures.
September 23, 2013