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Is mold making your tenants sick?

Your role as a property owner includes many tasks, such as collecting rent, repairing damage and addressing complaints from your tenants. Keeping your property safe and habitable may seem like an endless job, but if owning rental property has been your goal, you may enjoy the challenge.

While you may deal with many problems stemming from your tenants and the neighborhood where your property stands, one issues you may struggle with is the presence of mold in your building. Toxic mold is a hot-button issue with lawmakers, and California is a trendsetting state when it comes to regulating and mitigating mold in residential properties. From a tenant's point of view, that ensures a safer living environment. From a landlord's point of view, you have a lot to worry about.

Mold may be easy to identify, but it's often hard to see. It is a fungus that grows in dark, moist areas, so the spaces behind bathroom walls and under floorboards are ideal. If your building has experienced a flood or leaky pipes, you may have fertile ground for the growth of toxic mold.

The effects of mold toxicity

There are many varieties of mold, but black mold is the most dangerous. Black mold has a musty smell. It contains mycotoxins, spores that can be poisonous when inhaled, especially in those with vulnerable immune systems such as children and the elderly. Some of the physical effects of toxic mold illness include:

  • Sinus infections
  • Respiratory infections
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Disorientation and neurological damage

The effects of mold toxicity may go away after mold removal, or they may be permanent. As a landlord, you may be liable for any illness your tenants suffer due to mold. Advisors for property owners recommend you do frequent inspections of your units and take immediate action to remediate any mold you find.

If you discover mold in one of your units, you should document it with pictures. This may be helpful if you believe your tenants are contributing to the growth of the mold. While your tenants reserve the right to hold you responsible for failing to thoroughly remove the mold, you also have the right to seek compensation for damages your tenants caused, including the expense of mitigating mold. Pursuing those damages is a complex and delicate process, and the assistance of a real estate attorney will prove invaluable.

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