Owning property comes with all sorts of surprises. As a property owner, you must think about all kinds of things you may never have considered before; things like toxic mold. Undetected mold can destroy your property’s financial success just like it destroys your building’s structure and your tenant’s health.
But, don’t panic yet. You can avoid this destructive scenario. But first, you have to know what you’re up against.
What is toxic mold?
Mold is a natural part of the environment and is found just about everywhere. It’s in the air and on most surfaces. In small amounts, mold is just a normal part of life, helping to break down organic materials such as dead leaves and fallen trees.
However, according to the CDC, there are some types of molds that are toxigenic which means that they are able to produce toxins called mycotoxins. When left unchecked, these types of molds can cause serious health problems for people living in close proximity.
Molds in general, even the non toxic varieties, are also a health hazard for some populations. Specifically, mold can be dangerous for young children, people with asthma or those who suffer from allergies. Typically, molds cause respiratory illnesses or breathing issues.
Why should landlords test for mold?
Mold is one of those sneaky problems that can appear without your awareness and cause big issues. Proactivity is key when it comes to mold. Why? There’s too much at stake. Once mold has spread, it creates numerous financial risks.
The reality is that it’s not only within your best interest to test for mold and use mitigation tactics as necessary to ensure your financial wellbeing, it’s required by law. As a property owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure your tenants are living in a safe environment.
In California, the Toxic Mold Protection Act of 2001 requires that properties maintain levels of mold below a permissible level if sensitive populations such as children or people with respiratory problems live in the building. The law also sets remediation standards for landlords, and requires you to disclose to your tenants information about existing mold on your property.
The financial risks for failing to take care of mold are many. But, what are you up against?
Financial risks of toxic mold
Allowing toxic molds, or any molds, to grow and fester in your building result in a number of financial risks including:
- Fines and fees
- Lawsuits from tenants affected by mold
- Mold mitigation services
- Loss of tenants (long vacancy times)
Obviously, with the California laws in place, noncompliance with the requirements could result in fines. It also puts you in poor legal standing should one of your tenants decide to take action for illnesses or health issues resulting from the mold. A lawsuit is never cheap, and even worse, tenants who hear about the issue may prefer to move out, leaving you with a lower income. Your reputation is on the line whenever a legal issue comes up and it could cost you thousands in lost tenants. It’s in your best interest to avoid this scenario by checking for mold on a regular basis.
Even if you are able to avoid legal complications, mold mitigation can be expensive. In large properties, mold can propagate through the HVAC and hot water systems quite easily. If the growth is quite widespread, the costs for mitigation can be astronomical.
How to avoid the risks of toxic mold
You can avoid this whole mess by proactively preventing the growth of mold. Moisture is the principal factor that encourages mold growth. With proper ventilation and regular maintenance to avoid moisture problems, you can avoid excess mold growth in the first place. If you do notice mold growing anywhere in your building, it should be handled by a remediation expert.
The CDC offers a guide for mold prevention and remediation in commercial buildings. By taking a proactive step and looking into this before a problem emerges, you can save yourself many headaches and financial hardships in the future.
A Creative Property Management is here to help you! Do you have questions about mold in your building? We know the contractors to call and can manage the whole process for you. Call us today!