Regardless of your role in the real estate world, there's no four-letter word that strikes fear into your heart quicker than mold. Highly destructive to your property and the health of your tenants, mold can wreak havoc on a community - and on profits. Though mold is always present in small amounts, out of control levels of mold can cost thousands of dollars to remove. While you might dismiss mold as a part of apartment living, Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management urges every property manager to take it seriously.
Mutli-family communities present some of the toughest barriers to mold prevention. Since management can't control the ventilation inside each individual units, it's often up to the tenant to ensure that moisture isn't building up inside. Depending upon their knowledge of mold and how it develops, they may not even know to turn on the bathroom fan when taking a shower. Vacant units can be just as bad, with mold growing out of sight of busy landlords.
Even worse, one family's bad habits can spell disaster for others nearby. Failure to vetilate properly could cause mold, which spreads easily between walls. Current residents inherit the problems caused by previous tenants. In many cases, mold is hidden away, showing itself only when the problem is already serious.
So how do you combat mold growth in your properties? The first step is to ensure your exteriors are leak-proof. Since mold loves moisture, it's important to do all you can to prevent rain from dripping in. Be sure to clean gutters and roofs regularly, and use smart landscaping to guide rainwater away from your building. You may even want to invest in mold-resistant plastic to help insulate your property from groundwater seeping in through the foundation.
The other important takeaway for landlords is to hold tenants accountable for their role in mold growth. Spell out requirements to properly ventilate the unit in your lease. That way, should mold develop, you can point to the lease when holding your tenants responsible for their role. While it's not easy to prove where mold starts and why, including language in your lease to communicate a warning is always a good idea.
- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management
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