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Everything You Need to Know About Mold Inspections

December 3, 2023

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As a landlord, mold is something you need to take seriously. 

It can seem like a small problem at first, but it can quickly turn into a big problem. 

If you haven’t had a mold problem before, there are some basic things you’ll want to understand about mold inspections. 

Even if you don’t have a mold problem right now, it’s wise to know what to do in case this is something you deal with in the future. 

So, without further ado, let’s look at what you need to know about mold inspections. 

What is Mold? 

Mold is a kind of fungus. It can come in different shapes and colors (black, white, gray, or green). Some mold appears grotesque and smells awful. Some is hard to distinguish and hidden in places like attics. 

Mold typically grows on water-soaked materials. It’s more likely to appear in humid climates. That said, mold can develop anywhere there is moisture.  

Why is Mold a Problem? 

Mold is a health risk. And you don’t want to put your tenants at risk. Respiratory infections, asthma attacks, bleeding lungs, eczema, and allergic reactions are just some of the risks involved. 

Additionally, mold is a problem for you because it can lead to extensive property damage. Mold spreads and can even ruin carpet and furniture. 

However, it’s important to mention that not all mold isn’t necessarily harmful to your tenant’s health. Mold that grows on shower tiles typically isn’t toxic (this doesn’t mean it’s harmless, though). This is another reason inspections are important; experts know the difference between dangerous mold and mold that is less dangerous. And they’ll know the next steps that need to be taken depending on what they find. 

Mold Inspections and Mold Remediation 

When it comes to mold, you may hear “inspection” and “remediation” used interchangeably. There is a difference, however, between these words related to mold. 

What is a Mold Inspection? 

A mold inspection occurs when a mold inspector checks a property for the presence of mold to see whether there is an issue or not. 

These inspections, which involve the physical act of checking for mold and testing the property, usually take one or two hours. 

What is Mold Remediation? 

If the specialist finds a mold problem, then mold remediation is the following step. This is the overarching term for the process of removing mold. 

The specific solution, though, depends on the discovery and the extent of the issue in your property.  

How to Handle Mold in Your Property 

Some landlords want to handle a mold problem on their own. This is certainly an option, but you should be very careful. Mold removal is usually a somewhat extensive process.  

Not only do you need to get rid of mold, but there are also preventive measures necessary like dealing with the moisture’s source.  

Most places where mold grows aren’t easy to see, so this adds another layer as well. Often, mold isn’t discovered until it’s grown for a little while. And the more widespread the mold issue is, the more you’ll want professionals to handle it. 

Free Mold Inspections 

While this may seem far-fetched, free mold inspections are available. The reason they’re free is because you’ll want to pay for removal services if dangerous mold is discovered.  

This leads to an obvious question, though: Should you look for a free mold inspection? Giving a definitive answer here wouldn’t be fair, but you should be wary. 

There are potential pitfalls to any company that performs a free mold inspection and can only receive financial benefit by finding issues. Thus, proceed with caution. 

What some companies that do both don’t explain is that there is mold present in the air in every home and environment. It’s the level and type of mold that determines whether remediation services are necessary.  

So, it may be in your best interest to seek out an independent testing firm. Independent testing firms obviously charge for testing, but they don’t have the same conflict of interest. Although it will cost more money up front, it could save you money in the long run. 

Mold Inspection Costs 

If you don’t choose to go with a free mold inspection, then the cost of mold inspection varies by location, but the difference is typically minimal.  

Generally speaking, a mold inspection costs $300 to $400 for small to medium-sized houses (e.g., under 4,000 square feet). Above 4,000 square feet, the cost typically falls in the $700 to $900 range. These costs are usually for the inspection only and don’t necessarily include testing. 

Note: Certain kinds of mold testing can also add to this cost, so keep that in mind as well. 

Landlord Responsibilities 

For the most part, landlord responsibilities related to mold aren’t clarified in building codes or regulations. Some states like California and Texas took steps to change this by enacting permissible mold guidelines for mold in indoor air. 

Check with your state department of environmental protection or your state department of health for more information on your specific state. 

Regarding local regulations, reach out to your city manager, mayor’s office or local government department.  

Even if your state or locality doesn’t have mold regulations, you may still be held liable for mold issues per the landlords’ responsibility to provide safe and livable housing. Thus, it’s important to be cognizant of these issues no matter what the local regulations stipulate or don’t stipulate.  

Tenant Responsibilities 

The onus of responsibility can shift to tenants if mold grows because of their actions or negligence. If they facilitate high humidity or fail to clean the unit, then they may be held liable for mold issues. 

Timing 

If your property has a confirmed mold problem, check your local laws to learn how long you have to remedy the issue.  

For example, in Texas, landlords get a reasonable amount of time to remove mold after receiving a notice. Try to get the issue fixed as soon as possible, but around seven days is typically considered reasonable. This timing could fluctuate based on the severity of the issue, the reasonable availability of materials and labor, and when notice is received. 

Conclusion: How to Avoid Scams 

Let’s end with some critical tips about mold inspections. If you take nothing else away from this article, be sure to store these in your memory bank: 

  • Be wary of free mold inspections: It’s probably in your best interest to pay for separate inspection and remediation services from different providers. 
  • Find the Right Mold Inspector: Look for a contractor with specific experience and expertise in mold inspections. Ask them how many inspections they’ve done in the last few months. Call different providers and get a few estimates. Essentially, do the best you can to find someone competent and affordable. 
  • Consider clearance testing: After the cleanup work has been completed, consider having the original inspector (not the remediator) return and re-test to ensure the mold is gone. 
  • “Bandaids” won’t solve the issue: “Solutions” like ozone generators and other mold-killing measures can be more toxic than the mold itself and they don’t get rid of the source. Mold must be removed, and you do that by fixing the moisture problem and taking care of wet materials. 
  • Focus on the root problem: You probably don’t need secondary samples or testing of clothing and furnishings. If you’re dealing with a mold infestation, it’s probably on clothes and furnishings. Finding the root cause and understanding how to take care of it is the key. 
  • Be present for the Inspection: Scammers may turn up a property’s heat or even shake out rugs to send more spores into the air to manufacture significant issues. If you’re there the whole time, it prevents this from happening. 

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