Looking for a form to move tenants out temporarily - mold

7 Replies

I have a tenant who heard "the toilet running" for "over a week, I guess" - but it turned out to be a big hot water leak spraying the subfloor under the bathroom in an enclosed crawlspace.  So there is mold.  Lots of mold.  The remediation company will not give an absolute move out recommendation, because they refer to a third party company for environmental assessment (minimum 300-1200 not covered by insurance), but the tech has indicated it would be a good idea for them to move out for 5-7 days.  Their renter insurance is lapsed (I now know to add our company as an interest, thanks to this board), so they are resistant.  For their health (and our liability risk) I am going to tell them they are required to move out for the duration of the remediation.  Obviously, they have been told they need to immediately secure their coverage, with us listed as an interest.

Anyone happen to have a letter for a temporary move out due to repairs/environmental risk?  I know it is a long shot, but have not been able to find anything through the insurance or remediation companies or online searching.

Thanks for any help.

We don't have a letter, but we moved a family to a hotel for a week when we remodeled their apartment. We paid for the hotel and the tenants arranged for the moving of their stuff. It was a business expense and an investment we were willing to make for good long term tenants.

Since the unit you rent to them is currently uninhabitable, you could offer them some choices: 1. They find temporary housing elsewhere, such as with family or friends, and you prorate back to them rent for the days they are unable to use the unit and perhaps something more for the inconvenience. 2. You keep the rent they paid, but house them in a hotel at your expense for the duration. 3. Allow them to move-out permanently, break the lease without penalty, if they would like to.

Unfortunately, unforeseen events happen. What does your insurance cover? Do you have healthy reserves? How will you guard against such an event happening again?

Thanks for your reply.  I am putting everything down here in case our little journey is of any help or interest to anyone else.  We have been able to learn a lot on these boards, which is much more fun than learning it through an experience like this. 

After speaking with the mitigation manager at the remediation company as well as our county's Department of Public Health - Environmental Services department it has been determined that the property is not uninhabitable.  The on-site tech was expressing a personal opinion that he would prefer to move out if he was living there (with every conversation I am getting more of "the sky is falling!" form of communication).  Per the mitigation firm, the mold is contained to the crawlspace, with no indication it is in the living space.

Environmental Services said that he feels that the home is safe to stay in since the mold is 1) in the crawlspace, 2) there is a plastic tent over the access trapdoor, 3) the furnace is not located in the crawlspace, 4) the mitigation company has established negative air pressure in the crawlspace 5) as well as using anti microbial treatments and 6) water remediation efforts.

I consulted with a real estate attorney.  He advised to put everything in writing, specifically that there was an offer to help pay for alternate accommodations and that the tenants chose to stay, stating that they have been advised to talk to their family physicians to assess their personal risks, and have the property manager and both tenants sign.  I am also having them read and sign off on documents from the CDC and the state Department of Public Health and Environment that give facts about mold and health.

Luckily the reserves are in great shape.  

The homeowner's insurance policy:  Insurance does not cover plumbing repairs attributed to general wear and tear. Insurance has a $2500 cap on mold mitigation (since the estimate yesterday JUST for mold is over $8100, trying to see if we can increase that number going forward).  Insurance will pay water remediation up to a much higher number than for mold, and does a good job separating the two causes and associated charges.  A homeowner's policy does not cover the expense to move out a tenant - that is covered by renter's insurance policy.  Which our tenants did not have at the time of the leak.

Going forward:  

Waiting for a call back from the insurance company to see if it is possible and cost to increase the mold mitigation cap on the policy for any future claims.

Changing the wording of the Renter's Insurance clause in the lease to state proof of coverage with the landlord listed as an interest is required within 48 hours after the lease is signed, prior to the keys being handed over.  

Some wording about any water noises needing to be reported immediately.

Moisture alarms for any properties with crawlspaces.  Per the plumber - one underneath each bathroom is ideal.

Notices out to all other tenants requesting proof of coverage with the landlord listed as an interest to be provided within 2 business days.

As always - any additional advice is always appreciated!

I would be interested to know how old the tank was??

 We lucked out a few years ago when ours burst but it was 3 years past it service life & was a utility company rental. The entire $24,000 in damages was covered by their insurance.

(Another reason I am installing on-demand systems.)

Also make sure the alarm is annoying as the constant rush of water didn't seem to concern them or your interests.

these are the guys we buy from for audible alarms etc

http://www.signalguys.com/p/MT4-115-S.html

Dehumidifiers, bleach, and hydrogen peroxide, along with removing any porous materials will solve just about any mold issue. Most mold is not toxic, but protective suits and respirators should always be used.

Pat L.  - The leak was actually a copper line underneath the master bathroom.  One bad section of pipe surrounded by lots of good copper.

Wilson - FEMA recommends any mold growth greater than 25 square feet should be handled by a professional mitigation firm. The 1200 foot crawlspace is approximately 80% covered in mold growth. The approach so far is containment, water extraction, dehumidifiers, anti-microbials, manually removing mold, sanding all wood surfaces once dry, hepa vac, kilz coating of all surfaces, hepa vac again.

Perfect storm:

enclosed crawlspace, still air, hot water, spraying water leak for at least one and up to two weeks straight.  Dew point is evidently 100 grams per pound - the crawlspace was at 107.  I think this space could have been used to teach kids about the water cycle, as it was continuing to drip and form new condensation droplets on the mold for the first few days after the leak was stopped and mitigation in process.

That's quite the mold project. This is why a drainage system for water heaters is so important. I would imagine they will be installing a pump or something just in case the next water heater fails like this. I always add drain pans if there is no floor drain present.

wilson-  this wasn't the water heater.  It was a 1/2" copper hot water line underneath the master bathroom.