A Landlord’s Guide to Mold

rental mold landlord responsibility

Finding mold in a rental property is not fun. It is one of the primary areas of concerns for landlords in the Kansas City metro area. Due to our frequent storms with flash flooding, it’s important to know mold forms in as little as 24-48 hours. Unresolved mold can cause future problems with selling your property. Furthermore, mold can cause health effects to your tenants that can also cause your liability to increase significantly.

What is the Landlord’s Responsibility for Mold in a Rental Property?

Surprisingly, the landlord’s responsibilities regarding mold usually go unstated in regulations, building codes, statutes, and ordinances. However, there are exceptions where they are written. We have gone through those laws and explained how a landlord can be held responsible for mold problems.

Missouri Mold Laws

According to the Missouri Business Alert. “Although more than 30 states have moved forward in regulating indoor mold conditions; there is no statute regarding mold in either Missouri law or federal law. Under Missouri Law, standard rental leases contain an “implied warranty of habitability”. Which is a promise landlord make to keep his or her property habitable to tenants? However, whether and in what quantities mold is harmful to people’s safety is not clarified in the warranty”. To know more about mold-related ordinances contact your city’s health department. Due to frequent flooding and high humidity during the summer months, the Kansas City area is at high risk for water damage and mold in a rental property.

Federal and State Laws

Unfortunately, no federal laws for mold have been declared in any country throughout the globe. No building tolerance or limits have been placed within federal laws. However, a few states have finally stated laws on landlord obligations to fix the mold. These states include New Jersey, Indiana, California, Maryland, and Texas.

Let’s explore California’s law named “Toxic Mold Protection Act of 2001″. According to this act, there is a standard limit for indoor mold for sensitive people like children and the older generation. The act also allowed DHCS to set remediation standards for landlords and owners. It has been stated a crime to keep the tenants uninformed of the suspected mold in a rental.

Suggested Article: “What to Do If You Find Mold? Tenant and Landlord Action Steps

Recent Local Law Changes Cause Higher Standards for Rental Properties

Landlords of rental properties in the Kansas City metro area need to start taking notice of the new ordinances that local cities are beginning to impose or propose. With routine inspections, fees, and tougher consequences for landlord’s whose rental properties have problems with toxic mold, hazardous electrical, & rodents. These are just a few of the most mentioned “health hazards” at the top of the city health inspector’s list to be monitored. With recent proposals by Kansas City, MO and new ordinances being implemented by Independence and Overland Park. Most cities within the metro area cite regulations by the Missouri and Kansas Department of Health. In regards to their policies related to the landlord’s liability for maintaining healthy living conditions.

When a Rental Property has Mold

Many times we see landlords attempting to keep the cost of repairs low. At times, these landlords knowingly or unknowingly put their tenant’s health at risk by cutting corners. Mold is a common item that we see landlords attempt to “resolve” with insufficient methods in their rental properties such as painting over with Kilz, cleaning with bleach, removing the mold damage themselves, or with an un-certified contractor.

All of these items may appear to be a sufficient resolution. However, each of these items may remove the “visible indication” of mold. But all of them increase the property owner’s liability, cost and litigation risk for ongoing mold problems. Any reputable real estate attorney will tell you that a tenant that reports mold problems has a strong case against the landlord for negligence and damages. Let’s take a look at each of these common tactics and explain the risk associated with each method.

Landlord’s 3 Most Common Mold Removal Practices Bring Risk and Liability

1) Painting Over Mold with Kilz or Other Products

This is the most common method we see used in multi-family rental properties such as apartments or large property management companies. Paint may hide mold for a short period of time. However, it does not remove the health effects of mold exposure. If mold is visible, the underlying and hidden mold problem is more severe. Once a tenant starts connecting health problems with mold exposure, the liability can reach ten times the cost of the original mitigation.

2) Clean Mold with Bleach

Bleach is often the first item people reach for when dealing with mold. There are many false facts about bleach. Bleach does what it does best and “bleaches” the color of mold. Most think they if the mold is no longer visible that the mold is eradicated. However, this thinking is completely inaccurate. There is scientific evidence by many 3rd party organizations, including Oregon State University, that have verified the false claim; that bleach does not kill mold spores. And that mold remains toxic even after bleach is used. The color of the mold may be gone but the fungi of the mold are still thriving. Bleach does not claim to be antimicrobial on any of its labels. Thus, verifying the inability of bleach to kill mold.

3) DIY Mold Removal or Removal Completed by Non-Mold-Certified Professionals

This is the most common approach we see that landlord’s take in dealing with mold in their rental properties. There is a reason that the EPA and all mold certification firms require the use of hazmat gear, containment barriers, and specific protocols. Because mold removal is dangerous. Mold spores become easily airborne when disturbed and can easily spread throughout the property leading to ongoing mold problems. In addition to the increased property damage risk, the health risk is disturbing.

The Risks

Researchers are finding more and more evidence of long-term health effects and diseases. Like cancer and Alzheimers are connected to the exposure of mold. Even in the last 5 years, there is a greater awareness by medical professionals of the health effects of mold. As research continues, the risk of mold exposure will consistently be a more dominant featured story by the news. In effect, this will also cause legal litigation over mold-related issues. As the public becomes more educated on the risk and effects of mold exposure.

The Liability

Mold liability is one of the riskiest and most expensive liabilities that you can take as a landlord. The key to minimizing the cost and liability of mold is to address moisture problems quickly and accurately. When you find you have a mold problem. Contact a local, reputable certified mold professional company to resolve quickly and inexpensively. In our 10 years of helping customers with moisture and mold problems, we have seen a clear track record: Our customers who address mold quickly and professionally upon the first indication of problems; minimize their cost and their liability substantially. Customers who elected to use insufficient methods that we have discussed have ongoing mold problems while spending substantially more.