Real estate residential and commercial landlords, tenants, and rental agents in USA, Canada, and worldwide should take ten steps to avoid mold problems and lawsuits in rental of real estate properties, according to Phillip Fry, Certified Mold Inspector and author of books Mold Legal Guide and Mold Health Guide.
Living or working in rental units that contain elevated levels of airborne mold spores and/or substantial mold growth infestation can cause very severe (and sometimes permanent) health problems to tenants.
Landlords have ethical and legal obligations to tenants to provide an environmentally safe, habitable living space (residential rentals) or workplace (office and commercial rentals). Those obligations go unmet when a rental unit is mold-infested.
Landlords may have potential and substantial legal liability to tenants for such compensatory damages as: expenses for medical mold diagnostic and treatment procedures, loss of earnings, mold damage to tenants' clothing and personal property, higher rent differential if tenants need to move to a mold-safe place, moving expenses, any tenant-paid expenses (such as mold inspection, testing, and remediation of rental unit and tenant possessions), and punitive damages (jury-awarded).
A Hayward, California, jury in 2004 awarded $4 million dollars in damages because of mold infestation and other substandard living conditions on behalf of 124 past and present tenants of an apartment building whose owner failed to do proper mold remediation and maintenance of mold-infested apartments. Take these ten steps for mutual well-being of both landlord and tenants---
1. A property owner or manager should not even offer property for rent until after a thorough mold inspection and mold testing of entire rental building or of individual rental units (prior to rental) determines that property is mold-safe for tenants to live or work in.
2. Hire a Certified Mold Inspector (USA and Canada) for an annual property mold inspection and mold testing, or at least use a do-it-yourself mold inspection checklist and mold test kits for a thorough mold examination and evaluation of rental building.
3. If there has been a plumbing line break or leak, roof or siding leaks, flooding, storm damage, or other water intrusion problems, building should be thoroughly and promptly mold inspected, tested, and remediated as part of water damage repairs and restoration.
4. If mold inspection and testing uncovers visible or hidden mold problems, property owner or manager should immediately do safe and effective mold removal and remediation. Hire a Certified Mold Remediator (USA and Canada), or follow recommended steps for safe and effective do-it-yourself mold remediation. Re-inspect and re-test (“clearance testing”) building after remediation.