“Ask Kari” – As it was just in May, the mold is surely here to stay
By Kari Negri, CEO of SKY Properties, Inc.
Seasonally, February is usually our wettest month of the year, but here in sunny Southern California, we might never know what we’re going to get. Spring is a favorite season for many people, but as the weather warms we will likely still see rain showers followed by heat. Do April showers bring mold in May or mold in June, July or August? Maybe, but it can be avoided if the water intrusion is dealt with quickly and correctly.
What we, as building owners and managers, need to know about heat and water is that together they are the perfect combination for growing mold. As of January 1, 2016, mold is considered an unsanitary housing condition within the meaning of section 17920.3 of the California Health and Safety Code.
Know your responsibility. Before cutting a ceiling or wet wall, make sure that the person you have for you is both Mold certified and Certified lead. If your building is built after 1978, it is YOUR responsibility to find out if there is lead or asbestos in your building before making any repairs. If asbestos is present, you will need to have it removed by a professional company before proceeding with repairs if it has been disturbed.
One of the big issues housing providers face all the time is water leakage. Whether from a pipe, an air conditioning unit or from the sky above, it is extremely important to deal with water leaks immediately after they occur. If water intrusion into a rental unit is ignored and heat is present, there is the potential for rapid mold growth. After the mold is discovered, how it is treated is “key”. Most maintenance workers think that cutting off the wet area is enough to take care of it, and sometimes it does, but not putting the right barrier between the problem and the tenant’s property can be a huge mistake.
You never know what you will find when you cut into a wall or ceiling. Thus, putting up an adequate barrier is equivalent to wearing safety glasses. You wear safety glasses, for example, just in case a nail soars towards your eye. Think of mold the same way. Every precaution should be taken because you don’t want a tenant’s belongings or your floor to be covered with anything other than plastic. As described in “California Tenants – Guide to the rights and responsibilities of tenants and homeowners,”
“Before renting a rental unit to a tenant, a landlord must make the unit suitable or habitable. In addition, while the unit is rented / occupied, the landlord must repair issues that make the rental unit unfit for life or uninhabitable. The owner has this obligation to repair because of a California Supreme Court case called Green vs. Superior Court, which ruled that all residential leases and rental contracts contain an implied guarantee of habitability. Under the “implied guarantee of livability”, the landlord is legally responsible for repairing conditions that seriously affect the livability of the rental unit. ”
The presence of mold can be seen as a habitability issue and you don’t want to make the situation worse by also exposing the tenant to lead paint which can be especially dangerous for children who tend to put things in their mouths. .
So what is mold? The California Department of Public Health defines mold as “simple microscopic organisms found almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors.” A correct mold test will always include an exterior sample as well as an interior sample from the area in question. Mold growth on surfaces can often be seen as discoloration, often white, gray, brown or black but also green and other colors. Molds, along with fungi and yeasts, are fungi and are needed to break down dead plant and animal matter and to recycle nutrients back into the environment.
What are the signs of mold? Molds often have a discolored appearance to the earth. They appear in many colors, but are often white, gray, brown, or black. Even though there is no earthy or musty smell, if you see water spots (often water damage on ceilings, drywall or wood), it is worth checking out. ‘be inspected and repaired. It is also important to note that sometimes tenants (due to the saturation of misinformation online) may have mold in their caulk and claim it is “black mold”. Still, do not try to solve the problem without having the proper training or without hiring someone who, so that the residents of the apartment as well as you, the owner, are protected from a possible lawsuit.
Here are some steps you can take to prevent mold:
- Visually assess the problem, which can be done by maintenance personnel and / or site manager. If there are already signs of mold, this should be dealt with by someone certified for mold, as the leak has likely been going on for some time and certain precautions need to be taken to fix the problem.
- Humidity test the affected area. Have a plumber check for moisture intrusion and active leaks.
- Repair leaks and / or treat sources of moisture intrusion if applicable.
- Remove wet or damaged ceilings or drywall immediately to prevent mold (Remember to make sure if your property is older than 1978 that you have asbestos and lead testing records or have them done before any major repairs).
- Desiccate areas with high humidity with the proper equipment such as fans and dehumidifiers if you cannot completely remove mold.
- Have a mold test performed by professional mold testers if you have unexplained high humidity readings or see signs of mold after a water intrusion.
Why mold is harmful. Mold can cause allergic reactions (if the exposed person is allergic to mold), inflammation and infection. The depth and severity of mold on health vary with each individual. For example, mold is more harmful to people with current health problems, such as asthma or a weakened immune system (patients with cancer or other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and HIV) .
Stay informed. California has published a lot of information on mold and our laws are constantly changing in this area, so it is necessary to stay current and stay tuned. There are also always new ways to deal with mold quickly and effectively. Last but not least, a discussion with your insurance agent for these types of claims should also be in order so that you know what you are up against.
Kari Negri is CEO of Sky Property Management and a member of the Board of Directors of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles. Do you have a question for me? Please send your questions and comments to me at [email protected].
(Editor’s Note: As of January 1, 2022, the California Department of Public Health “Moisture and Mold Information for Renters in California” booklet must be provided to tenants for all new tenants. This brochure is required by legislation which was passed in 2001 as Senate Bill 732, the “Toxic Mold Protection Act”, but which was not developed by the Department of Public Health. only recently. It is available in English and Spanish on the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles website, Form D.22, or on the State of California website.)