Mold can not only lead to structural damage to your property but also cause serious health risks to you and your tenants if not caught and treated timely. Because of the severe and broad effects that mold can have, responsible evaluation and detection will require both physical examinations of your property as well as open communication with your tenants and/or on-site building manager. Here are some tips:
- Mold spores or dark spots: Let’s start with the most severe. If you can see mold, you likely have a significant problem on your hand. Visible mold usually indicates just a small portion of a problem that lies underneath what is visible.
- Water or moisture collection: Mold needs moisture and dampness to settle and grow. Elevated moisture levels in building materials can be another sign of possible mold. A common complaint, for instance, may be a water stain on the ceiling. Official assessment will require a professional with the appropriate materials to confirm whether it’s just a leak to be fixed or mold.
- Musty or damp smell: Not all mold has the same scent, so this may be hard to pinpoint. Generally, the scent of mold is unpleasant and as though something is moist in the area. Some compare the smell to rotten wood or wet socks. Bottom line—if it is not a common scent in the building or apartment, it should be investigated.
- Flooding: If your building or any apartment within it has a history of flooding, you should keep a watchful eye on that space. If the flood was not handled by an appropriate professional, you stand the risk of growing mold on both a short and long-term basis.
- Health Symptoms: Last, but certainly not least, there are several symptoms that could mean exposure to mold. These can be tricky since the symptoms alone cannot prove a mold problem. However, if you are evaluating all of the above factors on a periodic basis, any additional health reactions can help you determine whether you have a problem. Signs of health symptoms from residents (or others who spend significant time on your property) that may be problematic:
- A lingering cold or flu-like symptoms
- Frequent headaches that perpetuate and/or get worse
- Difficulty breathing or other respiratory issues
- Irritated eyes, skin, throat or nose
Mold detection should be part of your regularly scheduled property inspections. Keep in mind that problem areas can include places that have the most exposure to moisture and little access to light, such as basements, bathroom ceilings and ductwork of your HVAC systems. However, if you notice (or your residents report) any of the listed red flags in the interim, don’t wait to take action. A mold problem will only get worse and cannot be solved by a simple cleaning. If you stay proactive, you will be better positioned to minimize your mold risks, keep costs down and keep your tenants happy.