Maintenance, Multimedia

Mildew and Mold in Rental Properties: Video Extra

In this video, Chris and Eli from the Landlord Gurus discuss mildew and mold in rental properties. Learn more about the issues that it can cause, how to prevent it, and what to do if it is already present.

Topics in this video include:

  • Issues that mildew and mold can present [0:45]
  • Dealing with mildew and mold in rental units [1:29]
  • Preventing mildew and mold [2:53]
  • Preventing leaks [5:32]
  • Managing rental property maintenance [6:53]


Chris Lee: Hey there, this is Chris and Eli from Landlord Gurus. Recently, we spoke about one of my tenants who was having issues with cleanliness and sanitation and hazards in his apartment. We briefly touched on the subject of moisture and mold and mildew and the dangers that those present. I think we will talk about that more in this video here. Eli will take it away. 

Eli Secor: Yeah, thanks Chris. I’ve had a fair bit of experience with remodeling and building. I’ve gone through quite a bit in terms of what one can do with moisture in the building. Anyway, first off, a touch just generally on what the issues are. Surface mildew or mold, especially if it’s on kind of a higher gloss paint, is not terrible if it’s dealt with. The longer that, that type of thing is left, the more it’ll damage the finishes, it’ll stain, it is then difficult to paint over. You have to cover it with a sealer. You have to put a primer again before you repaint.

Then, it can become a health issue as well, some people are terribly allergic to mold. That can run into all kinds of costly repairs and people not being able to be in their places. So, you gotta deal with it. And as we touched on with Chris, with his tenant who was not very clean or sanitary, you’ve gotta have a good lease. You have to have good clauses within that lease that deal with these issues. So Chris, I think you said you used EZLandlordForms, or you took a look at EZLandlordForms to see what notices there were to deal with issues like this.

CL: Yeah, they have various notices and you can select what state you’re in and it will display the notices that are relevant to you, specific to your state. And they’re all lawyer reviewed. In this case, I needed a 10-day comply or vacate. They’ve got all of that, as well as other notices that you need if you want to do an inspection, which we briefly touched on last time. But, you do have to give notice. They got all kinds of stuff that you can either purchase or some are free or you can just subscribe to a lifetime subscription so that you always have them. 

ES: As you viewers might be able to tell, they’re a partner of ours. There are other services that provide a similar set of forms that are all updated. Avail is one, they’re a partner as well. We write about all kinds of them and the reasons to have a strong lease and good notices, cause you really gotta do things by the book. Anyway, end of plug there. Now the main thing I would watch out for, or take care of, in terms of ventilation, mildew, moisture in the building is actually the ventilation that’s in there. Bathroom fans and kitchen fans are really important. In some places, it’s really difficult, but it’s worth an effort to get them venting out.

With the forms for Seattle, for example, we need to give the tenants an actual information packet or sheet on what mold is, how it happens, and what to do about it. And then there’s another form to say it’s your responsibility to take care of this and notify us if it’s happening. Essentially, the responsibility’s on the tenant to not allow moisture issues to happen in their unit. Having the right forms is really important no matter where you get ’em, that are up to date.

One other element on ventilation there is that I’ve started to put moisture detecting switches in, automatic switches. I’ve removed switches, like I just did it in a laundry room, and put a moisture sensor in there. So that fan always goes on, when the moisture becomes an elevated level. Then in newer buildings, I put actual fans in that are moisture and or motion detecting. I’ve disabled the motion detecting, cause if you’ve got the moisture detecting, it runs as long as you need it to. And the tenant doesn’t leave and turn the fan off, which is what anybody’s likely to do so.

CL: I think one thing, especially in our area here, where it’s pretty wet often, and it gets cold. In my case, I’ve got tenants who like to seal up the building when it’s cold out, right? They close all the windows, close all the doors, but then they don’t run the fans. Then they cook and things just get wet inside. So I do have to send a reminder, at the start of the winter saying, here’s some steps you have to take to keep your place ventilated. I know that it’s cold, but you may have to turn the fan on or you may have to open windows.

ES: That’s a good practice to be in. One of those many things to stay on top of. Another thought is, how to prevent leaks. Chris, I don’t know, have you ever had a water heater go on you?  

CL: Uh, in my house. 

ES: I’ve had a number of ’em in rental units. One of ’em happened to be on a second story, so right above another apartment. So, that was a problem. The bad was on me because I hadn’t replaced the water heater when the manufacturer said the water heater should be replaced. You know, it was probably 17 years instead of 15, and they mean it these days. It’s not gonna last longer, they don’t build it to last longer. As painful as it is, you have to stay on top of that type of thing. And a draining pan is a good idea too, it drains to outside, so it doesn’t end up flooding. 

Another measure that I’ve just started playing with, I have it in my home, but it’s a leak detector that goes under my sink and it’s got a little alarm that goes off. It’s sitting on the bottom of the cabinet and it goes off if there’s any water there. Some of ’em now have apps, so you get a notification even if you’re not there. We write about some of these things.

One of our best resources I think is an article that we wrote on managing rental property maintenance using property management software. There’s a lot in there aside from all the other benefits of applications and screening and, and automated leases and all that. It becomes a hub of communication around maintenance. You can bring vendors in and have communication all in one place. You can set reminders for inspections and all that type of thing. So that’s a good one. And then we’ve done a three-part series on rental maintenance checklist. One of ’em is on plumbing, there’s electrical and HVAC and pest control. It’s all broken down into three. So we’ll link to those. 

CL: You can download those checklists so you can have it offline and print.

ES: I’ll tell you, it’s thorough. I put pretty much everything in there. It’ll take some work to follow it all, but it’s all good practice and can save you trouble. 

CL: It does and when you think about it, your rental properties are very expensive investments and you want those to last for a long, long, long time. So take care of it. 

ES: A thousand-dollar water heater can turn into a many thousand dollar repair job. 

CL: Well good, thanks for all that knowledge that you unloaded on us. It’s all good that we need to be reminded of that, even I need to be reminded of that on a regular basis. If you like this video, please like it and subscribe to our channel, Landlord Gurus. We’ll be back again with our next installment. 

ES: Thanks for watching.

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About Landlord Gurus

Here at Landlord Gurus, our commitment is to provide expert advice on the complex and important issues faced by landlords and property managers. Together we have over 30 years of experience in residential property ownership and management. In addition to sharing our own expertise and experiences, we call on specialists in fields including maintenance, law, tenant management, and more. Where we see topics that require more in-depth discussion, we create insightful articles that provide valuable information and guidance.
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