How to Handle Mold Issues in Rental Properties

by Patrick Freeze  3/01/2024

Everyone knows mold is a health hazard, especially for those with weakened immune systems. Unfortunately, mold can quickly form and spread if it’s not handled correctly by landlords and tenants. As such, both parties must know their responsibilities to keep rentals clean and moisture-free in areas where mold can form. Today, we’ll review who handles mold issues in rental properties, what to do when tenants report mold, and how to eliminate it effectively. 

Contents of This Article: 

  • Who Handles Mold in Rental Properties?
  • What to Do When a Tenant Reports a Mold Issue
  • How to Test for Mold in a Rental Property
  • Cleaning Up Mold Issues in Rental Properties
  • How to Prevent Mold Issues in a Rental Property
  • Keep Your Rental Properties Clean With BMG

Who Handles Mold in Rental Properties?

Landlords are typically responsible for handling mold issues in rental properties. However, it depends on when the mold is found and what may have caused it. For instance, they’re obligated to provide tenants with a safe and habitable living environment, including promptly addressing mold issues. 

However, depending on local laws and lease agreements, tenants may also have some responsibilities regarding mold. For instance, they must promptly report any mold growth and ensure proper ventilation to prevent mold from forming. Tenants need to uphold their end of the lease agreement and keep the property in good condition, preventing mold. After all, landlords aren’t generally responsible for mold caused by tenant neglect. 

That said, landlords and property managers in Northern Virginia are typically responsible for conducting inspections before, during, and after a tenant moves out, as well as repairs related to mold infestations. 

What to Do When a Tenant Reports a Mold Issue

When a tenant reports a mold issue in one of your rental properties, it’s important to act fast. You don’t want to delay any course of action you may need to take, as it can potentially make the mold spread, causing sickness or health issues. 

First things first, you’ll want to schedule a professional inspection to assess the extent of the mold growth and identify the underlying cause. Throughout this process, keep in contact with your tenant. Let them know when the inspection will take place and any steps they need to take, like temporarily vacating the property while you resolve the mold issue. 

Once you’ve gotten an inspection done, you can come up with a plan of action. The goal is to safely remove the mold and address any underlying issues that may cause mold growth again. For instance, there may be a plumbing or roof leak that you need to fix to stop further mold growth or property damage. 

How to Test for Mold in a Rental Property

You can test for mold in your rental property with an at-home test kit or by contacting a professional. However, keep in mind that most DIY mold testing kits will only tell you if mold is present, not what type of mold it is. As such, for best results, it’s best to hire a professional mold inspection to get a better idea of where the mold is and where it has spread throughout the property. 

A professional inspector will visually assess the property to identify any visible signs of mold growth, water damage, or conditions that may lead to mold growth. Then, depending on the situation, the inspector may collect air samples, surface samples, or both to test for the presence of mold spores. The samples are then sent to a lab for testing and analysis. 

Once the lab analysis is done, the inspector will communicate the test result to both the landlord and the tenant. If mold is found and remediation is recommended, the inspector may guide you on how to get rid of the mold and avoid it in the future. 

Cleaning Up Mold Issues in Rental Properties

If you or your tenants discover mold in your rental property, removing it as soon as possible is crucial. However, keep in mind that removing mold from a property is no easy task.

Cleaning up mold in your property starts with controlling the moisture. Since the cause is most likely excess moisture, fixing that issue first makes the rest of the cleanup much easier. During this process, you’ll want to look at what’s causing the moisture, like foundation cracks, floor moisture, or leaky pipes. To help get rid of it, you can use a dehumidifier to eliminate the humid air and suck up the moisture. 

After handling the moisture issue, it’s time to tackle the mold. Since you’ll likely see it on some type of drywall, that’s where you’ll want to concentrate your efforts. You can find affected drywall by poking around with a sharp object or looking for dark spots on the wall. Once you’ve identified the affected area, you’ll want to scrub it heavily with a strong cleaning agent until the wall is free of dark spots. If the mold is so severe that you can’t clean it, you may need to remove the drywall and treat the framing as well. 

Finally, carpeting can be affected by mold, just like drywall can. If you find that your carpeting has been affected by mold, you may either need to deep clean or remove it completely. If the mold has started growing underneath the carpet, you’ll want to remove it and clean the area completely.

How to Prevent Mold Issues in a Rental Property

Awareness of how mold starts and grows is the first step in preventing major mold growth in a rental property. Both landlords and tenants must know how mold can form and how to prevent mold issues in rental properties. Here are a few tips to keep in mind. 

  • Fix All Leaks ASAP- Mold tends to grow wherever there’s moisture. Even a tiny leak in your rental can be just enough moisture for mold spores to form. As such, it’s important to regularly inspect your rental property and immediately fix any leaks or areas with moisture. 
  • Use Windows and Fans- Proper ventilation can help prevent mold growth in your rental property. So, encourage tenants to increase air movement and ventilation where possible and run exhaust fans in the bathroom to reduce moisture buildup. 
  • Keep Humidity Levels Low- Any properties with high humidity levels in the air are susceptible to mold growth. As such, you may want to encourage tenants to use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to keep the humidity levels as low as possible, especially if you’re in an area with humid weather. 
  • Clean Up Spills Quickly- Whether a glass of water spills on the carpet or a rainstorm floods your living room, cleaning the water up is crucial to avoid mold growth. One major, often-overlooked area for mold growth is underneath carpeting. If there’s a flood or large spill that affects the carpet, you may need professional fanning and drying to stop mold growth. 
  • Inspect the Property- Routine inspections can ensure your tenants are keeping up with their lease obligations and keeping the property in good condition. You’ll want to look for leaks, moisture damage, and mold growth during your routine inspections. 

Keep Your Rental Properties Clean With BMG

Prevention is key if you’re concerned about mold issues in your rental properties. You’ll want to ensure you and your tenants are on the same page when it comes to eliminating excess moisture and keeping properties clean and dry to prevent the start of mold growth. 

If you need help keeping up with inspections and regular property maintenance, consider hiring a comprehensive property management team, like PPM. Professional Property Management In Northern Virginia has the knowledge and expertise to help you keep your rentals well-maintained 24/7. Contact PPM today to learn more. 

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