Mold & Air Quality: What Landlords Should Know
Mold is something you never want to have in your rental homes. It can affect the air quality, causing your tenants to become sick if it's not treated properly. Read on to learn more about mold’s negative effects, where it can typically be found in rental homes and how you can get rid of it.
What is mold and why is it bad?
Mold is a type of fungus that can grow both indoors and out. It thrives in areas where there's lots of moisture. In small amounts, it’s generally harmless, but larger amounts can be dangerous. It’s prevalent in buildings, especially ones with roof leaks, windows that open or structures with various kinds of pipes. Even if your property is in excellent shape, this fungus can grow in rooms where people frequently use water, such as in the kitchen and bathroom. It reproduces through tiny spores that travel through the air, and you can inhale these particles and become sick.
Some of these particles carry allergens and chemicals, which can trigger inflammation in the respiratory system. Mold is also a source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, difficulty breathing and harm to various organ functions. It can also lead to asthma, coughing, upper respiratory illness, bronchitis, eczema and allergic rhinitis. Studies show a 30% to 70% increase in the prevalence of these health issues in homes with mold compared to those without. Experts estimate that the United States' annual health costs related to mold are as high as $22.6 billion, with a majority of those costs going towards asthma morbidity treatment.
If you want to protect you and your tenants’ health, it's crucial to prevent mold growth in your rental homes. Here's how you can do it.
The first step you should take is ensuring proper ventilation in rooms that are prone to dampness. Ventilation through exhaust fans can dehumidify the space and prevent spore growth. As an added bonus, they can reduce bad odors. You can also encourage renters to open windows to allow increased airflow when the weather permits.
Use the right products
You can use mold-resistant products in your home to prevent bacteria growth. Traditional drywall, for instance, is typically a gypsum plaster core pressed between paper. Mold-resistant drywall, on the other hand, is paperless with the gypsum covered in fiberglass. As a result, the surface is mostly waterproof and prevents moisture buildup. You can also use mold-inhibiting paint, which kills existing mildew, a particular type of mold, and prevents the growth of more.
Where can mold typically be found in a rental home?
Mold usually grows on water-soaked materials, such as wall paneling, paint, fabric, tiles, newspapers, or cardboard boxes. Humidity sets up prime growing conditions for mold. With this being said, if you have any leaks in your rental homes, such as in the roof or windows, repairs will go a long way in preventing mold. You should also inspect your gutters, as clogged or broken gutters and downspouts also create leaks and promote fungi growth.
Another spot to look at are the pipes, such as the ones in the bathroom or laundry room. Leaks can cause constant moisture, which also promotes mildew. If the ground around your building isn't sloped correctly, water may collect around the foundation and seep into your basement or crawlspace. As a result, mold can grow without anyone knowing, causing mysterious health issues. If water is an issue for your property, consider how you can redirect it away from the home.
Mold and a tenant’s health
Mold grows quickly in damp and humid spots. If you let it go, these microscopic spores create poor air quality and cause adverse health effects. From installing ventilation to redirecting water flow, you can ensure your tenants stay happy and healthy by implementing the preventative measures mentioned above.
Tenants can even address some minor moisture problems themselves by doing the following:
- Always use bathroom fans during and after bathing/showering
- Clean up spills and leaks quickly
- Use kitchen fans when cooking to reduce humidity
- Ensure good airflow in the home to help prevent condensation
Is the landlord responsible for cleaning mold in a rental?
Landlords are legally responsible for removing the mold in their rental units, as well as reimbursing tenants for any additional costs they endured as a result of the mold. Do all you can to prevent mold growth, and encourage your tenants to address minor moisture problems themselves by implementing the above practices.