My tenant just contacted me to let me know his son became ill, went to the doctor and the doctor told him the symptoms we related to mold. He was tested and showed mold in his system. I am having the house tested for mold and then plan on fixing the issue if comes back positive.
Any advice or things to be careful of as I know this can be an expensive? The house is in Charleston, SC and is a crawl spcae underneath as most houses in SC are like this. I just want to do everything right legally.
@Dave Madoch No legal advice here, but here are my thoughts.
What your tenant tells you may or may not be true. If the son does indeed have a diagnosis of an illness caused by mold, it may or may not be related to his dwelling. It may be related to his school, office building, or any other place where he spends significant time. Be aware that mold spores are EVERYWHERE. Be sure you understand how testing for mold works and what the results mean.
Don't assume responsibility for your tenant's illness, but if it gets close to that, be sure you have a good attorney available to help you if necessary. Do what you can to mitigate tenant exposure to mold and moisture in your properties. Be aware that some people have a higher sensitivity to mold spores that others. They may be living in a property that is not a good match for them.
THIS IS KEY.... PREPARE YOURSELF WITH KNOWLEDGE.
Look up information on the EPA website: https://www.epa.gov/mold
I especially like their brochure "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home". This brochure is good to give to all tenants. It teaches them what they too can do to prevent mold and moisture problems.
I would also take this opportunity to do a comprehensive inspection of the unit.
Testing your property for mold may rule out or confirm a possible connection to the tenant's illness, or the results may be inconclusive. Are you aware of any moisture and/or mold problems at the property? Focus on making sure your property is clean, dry and any evidence of mold has been removed.
Also, make sure you obtain and maintain appropriate insurance, not only for the dwelling but also other coverage such as flood insurance (depending on the location of your building) and an additional umbrella policy for added liability protection for you. Some property damage may be covered by your insurance, so check that out with your insurance agent.
Be proactive in keeping your properties clean and dry. Also teach your tenants what they can do too. If you suspect a problem with mold and moisture, certainly have that checked out and remedied.
Idk that Sounds fishy . How can a doctor make such a diagnosis like that specifically linked to mold especially to your house.dont panic and don’t assume liability and don’t tell the tenant that you are responsible . Wait to learn more to find out tenants intentions . If it looks like it’s going to be a lawsuit call a lawyer and have no more back and fourth conversations
Here is something we have in all of our rental agreements:
"Mold may grow and exist in any structure where there is, or ever has been, a presence of moisture and a food source for mold to grow. Its presence may exist without the knowledge of the structure owner and may be concealed from the untrained observer. Some varieties of mold are toxic and may cause adverse reactions in certain individuals. Tenant and Landlord will complete a Mold and Moisture Hazards addendum that will become part of this rental agreement."
Then in the "Mold & Mositure Hazards" addendum we disclose if a) "Landlord is aware of present or past mold and/or moisture hazards in the housing unit." or b) "Landlord has no knowledge of mold and/or moisture hazards in the housing unit." (which is what we primarily choose, since we work hard to keep our properties hazard free.) With their signature, the tenant acknowledges they have received the information on this form and also the EPA pamphlet "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home".
This helps protect us in the case of future litigation, so we keep this document in permanent archive, even years after a tenant has moved out. But primarily it serves to keep the tenant on notice that they too have a duty to do what they can to prevent a build up of moisture, mildew, and mold in the home. As well as to notify us in a timely manner if there appears to be a problem.
Documentation is important to demonstrate that you are acting in good faith to reduce hazards in the dwelling and on the premises. Also, as our memories fade, documentation helps preserve significant history.