AdvantaClean Advice for Miami Landlords Facing Tenant Mold Claims
Can Maintenance Prevent Rental Unit Mold Issues?
One morning shortly after arriving at the office, the first email I opened was from a landlord who was very concerned about a tenant threatening him with a lawsuit. A few days earlier, the tenant had gone to the ER with a severe respiratory allergic reaction. From the message, it seemed the tenant believed the cause was mold in his house.
I called the landlord to gather some additional information. To my surprise, at the time, the only information he had was in an email from the tenant’s attorney. Until he received that, the landlord had no idea what was happening as the tenant had never before reported anything to him. I told him that the most important thing we needed to do was understand what was actually happening. I asked him for the tenant’s telephone number to schedule a free mold consultation and see if a Certified Mold Assessor would be required.
We called the tenant, and we were able to schedule an inspection that same day in the afternoon. The temperature that day was hot, as summer was close. As soon as I walked in, I realized all the windows were open with the air conditioning running, and the walls seemed to be covered with fuzzy gray dust. During the inspection of the air conditioner, I took a photo of what supposedly was the filter -- I say “supposedly” because it was destroyed and had about ¾ of an inch of dust all over it.
I spoke with the tenant to understand what happened. He explained to me that he first met with his attorney during his visit to the ER. I asked him a couple of questions about how he lived in the house and how long the walls had been covered with that gray stuff. He told me that he liked to keep the windows open and that the walls began to get some color about six months ago, but they started getting worse just a couple of months back.
As soon as I left the house, I called the landlord to explain what happened. Leaving the windows always open caused the walls to trap moisture as the interior remained humid, creating conditions for potential mold growth. The damage was more severe at the AC vents due to condensation where the cold vents were contacting the warm, moist air. The AC system showed a complete lack of maintenance.
I recommended he have the house tested by a Certified Mold Assessor to prepare a proper scope of work. I also suggested he speak to the tenant first and let him know the damage in the unit was caused by him leaving the windows open with the air conditioning running, and it was the tenant’s responsibility to correct it. If the tenant had reported the issue earlier it could have easily been corrected, or even prevented entirely. I said if the tenant still insists on filing a lawsuit, give your own attorney a copy of the photo report we will be providing to you.
Ultimately, the tenant decided to drop his lawsuit and came to an agreement with the landlord. The unit had to be completely remediated and the air handler replaced.
My recommendation for the landlords is always the same: as soon as you know there is a problem contact the right contractor right away. Landlord liability arises when they become aware of a problem and decide to take no action. At the same time, a small water leak or other moisture issue can be easily corrected without causing much damage if caught and acted upon early, but putting it off will cause the damages and the cost to repair them to be much worse. If you have questions, give AdvantaClean of Miami a call today at (786) 243-6782.