Test results are in, and you have mold
If mold is discovered, contact a mold remediation company and provide them with a copy of the report which will outline the steps necessary to treat the mold. Be prepared that the tenant may need to move out or at the very least put them up in a hotel during the remediation process. The last thing a landlord wants is for the tenant to see the extent of the mold damage especially if it covers a large area.
If the tenant has to move, first check with your insurance company and ask the tenant to contact theirs to see if there is coverage. Unfortunately, most insurance companies leave tenants and landlords out to dry when it comes to mold, unless either party added a mold rider to their policy. When there is no insurance coverage, the tenant would normally receive a full refund of their security deposit. In some instances, they may also be entitled to be reimbursed for moving expenses.
In General, tenants typically become difficult once mold is discovered as it will likely come up while they remain in the home; every sneeze, cough, or other repairs especially that involve water. Have the remediation company take before, during and after pictures. Once the work is complete, a follow up mold test is necessary to determine if the mold was remediated properly. If the results come back showing the mold is gone, then provide a copy of the report with the tenant if the tenant is remaining in the property. If the mold test fails, inform the remediation company while providing them a copy of the report and have them remediate the property again and again until the mold test report comes back clean.
Filing and insurance claim
Insurance claims need to be filed carefully and its important to use specific and clear terminology. Sudden and accidental water loss or a ruptured pipe are key phrases to use because they imply that it happened quickly. A lot of insurance policies do not cover water leaks if it was slow occurring. In addition, a landlord should never with the word flood.
Floods involve an external source of water such as pooling rain, a river, lake, or even ocean water coming into the home. Many homes do not have flood insurance because its insanely expensive; usually only people who are required to carry flood insurance have it.
If the tenant’s personal property is affected, then they need to contact their insurance company. In some cases the tenant does not have renters insurance. Hopefully this is required by the lease agreement. If so, the landlord needs to inform the tenant that this is required by the lease and they need to get insurance. A request to repair or replace their belongings can be considered by the landlord (and required in some areas depending on local laws). Depending on the landlord’s relationship with the tenant and their management strategy, they may want to cover the cost to replace the tenant’s personal property in order to foster a long term relationship.
If the property owner does not have insurance or coverage it is denied, then they will have to pay out of pocket to complete the repairs. In the event they cannot afford the repair, then the tenant needs to be given the option to move out of the property with a full refund of their security deposit. If the tenant chooses to stay, it is strongly recommended that this is documented in writing. In addition, depending on the severity of the problem, this may not be an option. The last thing a landlord needs is to be accused of negligence because someone was leasing a home unfit for occupancy.
September 30, 2013