A malfunctioning furnace, a broken dishwasher, lost keys. All of these are common problems residents run into and bring to their property manager’s attention. Thankfully, each of these scenarios is a fairly easy and quick fix. However, when a mold arises, it is almost always accompanied with a host of other worries and questions.
Below are three frequently asked questions residents with mold problems will likely ask you and the best answers to relieve their worries and help you retain them as renters.
I found a small amount of mold in one area of the apartment, does this mean I have mold everywhere?
No. Finding a little bit of mold is not grounds for tearing down an entire home in search of more!
Let your residents know that mold can only grow in in the presence of water or high levels of humidity. If a resident has identified mold growth around a window where condensation is occurring, keep your efforts localized to that area. Dry areas of the home need not be ripped apart on a wild goose chase for more mold. Focus on the problem area and remove the mold at the source (e.g. the window’s wood trim) and prevent further issues by remediating the water source.
Once the initial problem is taken care of, a cheap way to clear any airborne mold spores in the home (as well as those that may be in a tenant’s imagination) is with a $100 HEPA air purifier. Again, save the wrecking ball for another day.
Alleviate tenant concerns by explaining that an isolated patch of mold is often just that—isolated—and resort to a professional mold removal service only when a true mold problem exists (more than 10 square feet of mold).
I think there might be mold in the residence, should we be performing tests to find the problem?
If mold is visible within the home, testing is nearly always a redundancy and a waste of money. No matter the species of mold in the home –– once identified, all types of mold should be addressed and treated by a professional in the same manner.
However, testing for mold will help to identify if mold is present when suspicions arise (for instance, a moldy smell) but no mold has actually been seen. Although a moldy smell can often lead right to the source, sometimes well hidden mold requires in-home testing for confirmation.
Don’t let a mold removal company convince you that visible mold needs to be tested. Unfortunately, many mold removal services upcharge their customers this way, but the reality is that it’s usually an unnecessary service.
We’ve found some mold that’s black, shouldn’t I be worried about my health?
Mold species exist in a range of colors. The notorious “Black Mold” you have heard so much about in the media is not one particular species of mold. Rather, it refers to all molds that can produce toxins (in this case, the toxins are called mycotoxins).
What is important to know is that not all mold that is black produces toxins, and not all molds that produce toxins are black. Ensure your resident of this fact to alleviate their health scare, and let them know that the mold will be fully removed regardless of what species it is.
As it currently stands, mycotoxins are not fully understood by the science community. According to the EPA, certain types of mycotoxins produced by mold species Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus have been linked to cancer. However, the EPA has stated, “Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus are not commonly found on building materials or in indoor environments.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also states: “There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. These case reports are rare, and a causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven.”
However, those suffering from allergies can be affected by the presence of mold, and the jury is still out on whether mold poses a serious health risk for everyone And if it does, removing it is really the only option anyway. Your job as the property manager is to make sure this gets done. And as with any of the situations covered above, what will make you an exceptional property manager is if you are responsive and can simultaneously ease your resident’s anxieties in the process.