Potential Mold Issue (Tenant claims)

8 Replies

Hi everyone, I just bought a single family unit in Dallas 9 months.  It's considered a Class A property, and in an area where schools are all rated highly.  My tenants just moved in 6 months ago and claims that they have been having health issues and are moving out because of potential mold issues.  Thing is, they can't find the mold, nor can my property manager. When I bought the house 9 months ago, the inspector didn't see any mold either.   I live out of state so it's tough for me to go in take a look myself.   It is also a possibility that the tenants are just trying to get out of their lease  (they'd have to pay the rest of the lease out if they broke the lease without cause).  I'm not sure what the best thing to do at this point is. 

Should I get a mold remediation test done?  If I rent it out to another tenant, will I need to have this test done to prove there's no mold?  What are my risks? 

I hear that mold issues are very state dependent which is why I'm reaching out to all the Texas folks.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated! 

Mold is the biggest scam in Texas Real Estate. When mold is seen it is usually confined to a small area and can easily be wiped away with Lysol or bleach. I sometimes get mold in my shower. I spray Lysol on it and wipe it away.

There's an entire cottage industry that has developed that deals with mold. They'll charge you $1500 to spray the area with what amounts to nothing more than a water/bleach blend.

The fact that they can't point to a specific source of the alleged mold, and that the inspections haven't shown any evidence of mold, tells me your tenants are jerking you around.

Having said that, there are legitimate cases where mold is a problem. This usually involves an undetected leak inside the walls or a flooding situation. It doesn't sound like either of these apply to your situation.


Thanks Fred. There’s no leakage or any obvious water damage. The tenant just says that his doctor suggests there might be mold because the tenant has been experiencing cough, fatigue, headache, running nose, rash etc.... and they requested I get the house tested to prove no mold. But then they decided to move out a few weeks later.  It’s definitely possible they were just trying to get out of the lease. 

I guess with new tenants, would I need to get any kinds of test done? Or if I had my PM company look over the house, and there are no water/leak issues (definitely no flooding), I’d be good to rent out the house again? 

Teresa,

I would get a mold test done right away, as well as a plumber to verify that there is no water intrusion, moisture meter to verify that there is no water or leak inside the walls. Then if no mold, I would claim on their security deposit. People here in Florida do the same thing.
Last year I had someone try and do this very same thing, but I too have all my houses professionally inspected prior to occupancy and there were no problems, we won and the tenant has been sent to collections. Now when they want to buy a house, car or anything significant, they will need to pay that off

Inform your tenants that you will be having a mold test done, make sure your PM is present to prevent your tenants from interfering. Let your tenants know if the test results do not indicate a mold risk they will be billed the cost of the inspection. You should also request a written notice from their doctor. Put them on notice that if they break their lease they will be held responsible for the duration of the lease.

Do not allow them to break their lease.  

Kim has a valid point, these type of tenants do not want any blemishes on their records. Small Claims Court will be your best friend.

@Teresa Hickey

Personally, I would not get the house tested and would/would have marketed it immediately in order to mitigate my lost rent. 

The Dr was purely guessing and nothing more.  Much more likely would be it is allergy season in Texas.  As far as disclosure, you are only required to disclose known issues which this does not meet that standard

Hi Teresa

If your tenant is claiming they’re having health issues due to mold, I suggest that you get your rental unit tested by a Mold Assessor.The Mold Assessor can test for spore counts, which will tell you if there’s a mold problem or not. Remember, not all mold is visible, and everybody’s sensitivity level is different. Mold will never have an impact on some individuals, and will make others very ill. Also, if you get another tenant to rent the property, and this new tenant also claim to have health issues due to mold, now you’re opening yourself up to potential legal problems, since you were already forewarned of the issue, and did not rectify it. In addition, by posting here you’ve put yourself on record that somebody complained about mold. I have over 35 years of industry experience. The best suggestion that I can give you, is you can never be over cautious when you’re dealing with tenants or other people. Mold is a real hot button, especially here in Texas. I highly suggest you get a reputable Mold Assessor in your area to come out and do some tests for you. If there are no issues, there’s a document, called a CMDR (Certificate of Mold Damage Remediation), and this document is provided by the Dept. of Insurance and will certify that the mold spore count in your home is safe for occupancy. The person who tests your house will have to sign this form.  I hope this information helps you. I do not do work in Dallas, but I’m sure there’s a lot of good Mold Assessors in your area.  Please don't take this lightly.

Nobody in Texas ever thought about mold until after TS Allison. A lot of homes were sitting in water for a long time, and mold did become a problem because of that. A lot of insurance companies stopped writing policies altogether or added exclusions for mold coverage.

I'm not trying to be cavalier about it. Mold can be a big issue. I've seen what mold can do if left untreated. I looked at a foreclosure a few years ago, and I remember smelling the mold from the front yard. The house was literally being consumed by mold and it was eating away at the walls and ceilings. I couldn't get that smell out of my mind for days no matter how many showers I took.

Find a good full-service environmental consulting company, not a home inspector or guy who only does mold and  have them collect non-viable air samples.   Texas has a license for mold inspectors:

https://www.tdlr.texas.gov/mld/mld.htm

 

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