Tenant Mold Tests & Tenant's Notice to Landlord of Moldy Apartment, Home, Office
This document discusses the steps that a tenant in a rental apartment or rental home can take to deal with an actual or suspected mold problem and we discuss how to notify building management of a mold problem.
If you are not certain of the presence of unsafe conditions in the rental apartment,
your letter should state your observations, complaints, concerns, and ask the building management to bring in the appropriate
professional to inspect, diagnose, and if needed, specify what repairs, cleaning, or remediation are needed.
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What a tenant can do about a moldy apartment
1. Notify building management in writing: You should notify building management in writing of unhealthy unsafe conditions that need attention and that you are
unable to live in the apartment.
Most building maintenance employees lack the training to recognize mold, conduct appropriate
mold inspection and testing, diagnose the extent and causes of problem mold, and evaluate the risk of mold
to rental tenants, nor specify the mold remediation procedures necessary.
2. Simple mold testing: You might be successful in identifying some of the mold suspect material you see as problematic, and you might
collect a settled dust sample to see you can pick up indications of other problem molds or allergens.
Mold tests do not measure mold exposure: However
identifying mold in an apartment, while it may convince building management to act, does not and cannot establish the
level of exposure that an individual has had to the mold found, nor does it assure that the mold identified is the only
or even the main hazard. The prime use of tenant sampling in this case is to show management that there is at
least some evidence of problem mold in the building
Our MOLD TEST KITS web page contains sampling instructions you can
follow. I'm on assignment out of the U.S. and won't be processing any lab samples until after 9/10 so if you are in a
rush you should use another lab but you can still follow our sampling procedures.
3. If building mangement responds: If building management elects to make some effort to deal with the problem:
3.a. Proper dust control: be sure that the work does not create demolition debris and mess which contaminates or further contaminates your
belongings, especially soft goods like curtains, carpets, bedcovers, which may then require cleaning, and worse,
upholstered furniture which might not be able to be cleaned adequately.
3.b. Possible contents cleaning: if your possessions are already likely to be contaminated with moldy dust they should be cleaned before taking them
to a new home; soft goods can be laundered or dry cleaned; hard surfaces can simply be washed or wiped.
upholstered furniture is in question depending on how bad it is; surface dust can be vacuumed off of it; if upholstered
furniture has been wet or has had mold growing on or in it is probably not salvageable without complete
reupholstering from the frame up.
4. If building management will not respond to a tenant's mold complaint: be sure that your mold complaint is reasonable. Getting excited because of a few square inches of mold on bathroom tile grout is often not justified - unless there is evidence of leaks inside the bathroom walls, ceilings, floors. But seeing thirty square feet of contiguous moldy surfaces in your home or apartment is in most cases adequate reason to require professional inspection, preparation of a cleanup and leak repair plan, and professional cleaning.
We do not advise getting into an argument or legal dispute if it can possibly be avoided. The costs in time and money are large and possibly worse, if the environment is actually one that is unsafe, spending months arguing is a distraction from the need to decide on and take prompt action to protect the building occupants.
Continue reading at TENANT LANDLORD MOLD DISPUTE or select a topic from the More Reading links or topic ARTICLE INDEX shown below.
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE to TEST CLEAN PREVENT - home page for reading about how to clean up or remove mold and how to prevent its growth in buildings
Suggested citation for this web page
TENANT HELP for MOLDY RENTAL at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.
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- RENTERS & TENANTS: MOLD ADVICE
- MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE - home
- ACCEPTABLE MOLD LEVEL
- ACCURACY OF VARIOUS MOLD TEST METHODS
- ACTION GUIDE - WHAT TO DO ABOUT INDOOR MOLD
- AIR TEST FOR MOLD: ACCURACY
- CARPET MOLD CONTAMINATION
- CRAWLSPACE MOLD ADVICE
- DISASTERS: BUILDING INSPECTION & REPAIR - home
- DRYWALL MOLD TESTING
- DUST SAMPLING PROCEDURE
- EMERGENCY RESPONSE, IAQ, GAS, MOLD
- HIDDEN MOLD, HOW TO FIND
- INDOOR AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT GUIDE - home
- INSULATION MOLD CONTAMINATION TEST
- MILDEW in BUILDINGS ?
- MOLD ACTION GUIDE - WHAT TO DO ABOUT MOLD
- MOLD AGE, HOW OLD is the MOLD?
- MOLD APPEARANCE - WHAT MOLD LOOKS LIKE
- MOLD APPEARANCE on VARIOUS SURFACES
- MOLD APPEARANCE - STUFF THAT IS NOT MOLD
- MOLD CLEANERS - WHAT TO USE
- MOLD CLEANUP, DO IT YOURSELF
- MOLD CLEANUP GUIDE to GET RID OF MOLD
- MOLD CLEARANCE INSPECTIONS
- MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT, HIRE ?
- MOLD EXPOSURE STANDARDS
- MOLD PRODUCTS, INEFFECTIVE
- MOLD RELATED ILLNESS SYMPTOMS
- MOLD SPRAYS, SEALANTS, PAINTS
- MOLD TEST vs. PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS
- MOLD TEST KITS
- MOLD TEST METHOD ACCURACY
- MOLD TEST REASONS
- MOLD TESTING METHOD VALIDITY
- MOLD TESTING SERVICES
- MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
- MYCOTOXIN EFFECTS of MOLD EXPOSURE
- OZONE for MOLD OR ODORS
- FAQs below discusses field reports of problems & solutions for this topic
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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Questions & answers or comments about getting help with a moldy rental apartment, home, office, or other building.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman
Click to Show or Hide Citations & References
- MOLD ACTION GUIDE What to do about mold, mildew, and other indoor allergens. Review all of the sections of this document, particularly the section "Correct the Causes of and Prevent Mold or other indoor environment problems" also outlines the basic steps of mold prevention in buildings.
- How to Prevent Mold: how to avoid mold growth in buildings: priorities, repairs, products
- Condensation: Detecting and Correcting Attic Condensation and Preventing Ice Dam Leaks in Buildings
- Humidity: How Low Should You Keep Indoor Humidity to Avoid a Mold Problem
- IAQ or Anti Mold Products:Allergy/Asthma, Air Quality, Cleaning, Filtering, Ventilating, Dehumidification Products
- Ozone Warnings - Use of Ozone as a "mold" remedy is ineffective and may be dangerous.
- Products - Mold & Allergy Products: Allergy/Asthma, Air Quality, Cleaning, Filtering, Ventilating, Dehumidification
- Allergen Detection What various indoor allergens look like - identification photos to help identify pollen, dust mites, animal dander, toxic or allergenic mold - Common Mold and other Allergens, Irritants, Remedies & Advice
- FAQs on Mold - Frequently Asked Questions About Mold -- check this FAQ List & Site Map to see if you can find a quick answer to your mold concern
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
- Environmental Health & Investigation Bibliography - our technical library on indoor air quality inspection, testing, laboratory procedures, forensic microscopy, etc.
- Adkins and Adkins Dictionary of Roman Religion discusses Robigus, the Roman god of crop protection and the legendary progenitor of wheat rust fungus.
- Kansas State University, department of plant pathology, extension plant pathology web page on wheat rust fungus: see http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/path-ext/factSheets/Wheat/Wheat%20Leaf%20Rust.asp
- "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home",
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency US EPA - includes basic advice for building owners, occupants, and mold cleanup operations. See http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.htm
- US EPA - Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Building [Copy on file at /sickhouse/EPA_Mold_Remediation_in_Schools.pdf ] - US EPA
- US EPA - Una Breva Guia a Moho - Hongo [Copy on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Moho_Guia_sp.pdf - en Espanol
Allergies, Allergens, Allergy Testing in Buildings - References & Products
- Air Conditioning System Blower Fans & Filters Cascading for Optimum Indoor Air Quality
- Allergen Tests in Buildings advice about how to test, what to look for, in evaluating the level of dog, cat, or other animal allergens in a building
- "IgG Food Allergy Testing by ELISA/EIA, What do they really tell us?" Sheryl B. Miller, MT (ASCP), PhD, Clinical Laboratory Director, Bastyr University Natural Health Clinic - ELISA testing accuracy: Here is an example of Miller's critique of ELISA
http://www.betterhealthusa.com/public/282.cfm - Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients
The critique included in that article raises compelling questions about IgG testing assays, which prompts our interest in actually screening for the presence of high levels of particles that could carry allergens - dog dander or cat dander in the case at hand.
http://www.tldp.com/issue/174/IgG%20Food%20Allergy.html contains similar criticism in another venue but interestingly by the same author, Sheryl Miller. Sheryl Miller, MT (ASCP), PhD, is an Immunologist and Associate Professor of Basic and Medical Sciences at Bastyr University in Bothell, Washington. She is also the Laboratory Director of the Bastyr Natural Health Clinic Laboratory.
- Allergens: Testing for the level of exposure to animal allergens is discussed at http://www.animalhealthchannel.com/animalallergy/diagnosis.shtml (lab animal exposure study is interesting because it involves a higher exposure level in some cases
- Allergens: WebMD discusses allergy tests for humans at webmd.com/allergies/allergy-tests
- Animal Allergens: Dog, Cat, and Other Animal Dander - Cleanup & Prevention Information for Asthmatics and regarding Indoor Air Quality.
- Atlas of Mold Related Illness Symptoms & Complaints - long list of both documented, studied mold related illness, and complaints ascribed to mold contamination or allergens in buildings
- Cat Dander: how to inspect and test a building for past or current presence of cats, cat hair, cat dander, and cat allergens
- Clinical Atlas of Mold Toxicity - An Online Description of Toxic, Pathogenic, Allergenic Fungi, Fungal Diseases
- Fiberglass Insulation Contains Mold© 2005 comments about a field study in process, & more about health hazards from fiberglass insulation
- Humidity: What indoor humidity should we maintain in order to avoid a mold problem?
- Mold Action Guide detailed guide on finding, removing, and preventing indoor mold contamination
- Odors, Odor Detection, Smells, & Gases how to find and identify sources of noxious or toxic odors and gases
- Other environmental risks, Our much longer list: Asbestos, carbon monoxide, electromagnetic fields, etc.
- Ozone: The Use of Ozone Indoors for Control of Odors and Mold
Removal in Buildings: A Summary of Hazards and False Claims.
- Pollen Allergens: identification, plant pollen and indoor air quality
- Products to Reduce Mold & Allergy Problems to reduce indoor mold or allergen levels: air cleaners, air purifiers, dust mite covers, vacuum cleaners, crawl space vents
- Recognizing Allergens: What various indoor allergens look like - identification photos to help identify pollen, dust mites, animal dander, toxic or allergenic mold - Common Mold and other Allergens, Irritants, Remedies & Advice
- Rodent control issues, including dander, fecal, and urine contamination of Buildings and Building insulation are discussed at our
- Sewage and Septic backup contamination in Buildings: inspection, testing, remediation, & references to expert sources
- Action Guide: What to do about mold, mildew, and other indoor allergens
Mold Contamination Testing, Cleanup, Prevention: references & products
- The Mold Information Center: What to Do About Mold in Buildings, When and How
to Inspect for Mold, Clean Up Mold, or Avoid Mold Problems
- Aerobiology, Building Science, Microscopy, & Laboratory References, an extensive technical bibliography
- Allergens: what they look like in buildings
- Associations: Sick House, Sick Building, SBS - Air Quality, Government, Private Associations and Information Resources
- Atlas of Clinical Fungi, 2nd Ed., GS deHoog, J Guarro, J Gene, & MJ Figueras, Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures, Universitat Rovira I Virgili, 2000, ISBN 90-70351-43-9 (you can buy this book at Amazon) - The Atlas of Clinical Fungi is also available on CD ROM
- Atlas of Mold Related Illness: Index of Symptoms and health, physical, neurological, psychological, and other complaint which people suspect may be mold or building-related.
- Atlas of Indoor Mold, Online Clinical Mold Atlas, Toxins, Pathogens, Allergens and Other Indoor Particles - Medical Health Effects of Mold (separate online document)
- Black Mold that is Harmless Photos of recognizable, usually harmless black mold on wood, bluestain, ceratocystis, ophistoma
- Building Floods: quick steps after a building flood or plumbing leak can prevent costly mold contamination
- Classes of Mold: what types of cosmetic, allergenic, or toxic mold are a problem? Can mold be cleaned-up successfully?
- Clinical Mold References - Detailed bibliography of mold reference texts
- "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home", U.S. Environmental Protection Agency US EPA - includes basic advice for building owners, occupants, and mold cleanup operations. See http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.htm
- "Disease Prevention Program for Certain Vegetable Crops," David B. Langston, Jr., Extension Plant Pathologist - Vegetables, University of Georgia (PDF document) original source: www.reeis.usda.gov/web/crisprojectpages/209797.html
- "Disease Prevention in Home Vegetable Gardens,"
Department of Plant Microbiology and Pathology,
Department of Horticulture, University of Missouri Extension - extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G6202
- "Management of Powdery Mildew, Leveillula taurica, in Greenhouse Peppers," Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, British Columbia - Original source: www.agf.gov.bc.ca/cropprot/peppermildew.htm
- Environmental Health & Investigation Bibliography - our own technical library on indoor air quality inspection, testing, laboratory procedures, forensic microscopy, etc.
- Fiberglass: Mold in Fiberglass Insulation© 2005 comments about a field study in process, & more about health hazards from fiberglass insulation - DJF
- Fifth Kingdom, Bryce Kendrick, ISBN13: 9781585100224, is available from the InspectAPedia online bookstore - we recommend the CD-ROM version of this book. This 3rd/edition is a compact but comprehensive encyclopedia of all things mycological. Every aspect of the fungi, from aflatoxin to zppspores, with an accessible blend of verve and wit. The 24 chapters are filled with up-to-date information of classification, yeast, lichens, spore dispersal, allergies, ecology, genetics, plant pathology, predatory fungi, biological control, mutualistic symbioses with animals and plants, fungi as food, food spoilage and mycotoxins.
- Fungi, Identifying Filamentous, A Clinical Laboratory Handbook, Guy St-Germain, Richard Summerbell, Star Publishing, 1996, ISBN 0-89863-177-7 (English) (buy at Amazon)
- MOLD in BUILDINGS Procedure: what mold is often found where in buildings - simple technical presentation
- Meruliporia: the house eating fungus or "poria"
- MOLD ACTION GUIDE Step-by-Step Instructions, What to do about mold, mildew, and other indoor allergens
- MOLD APPEARANCE - WHAT MOLD LOOKS LIKE Photos of what mold looks like in buildings
- MOLD APPEARANCE - STUFF THAT IS NOT MOLD Photos of NOT-mold material that is sometimes mistaken for mold
- MOLD ATLAS & PARTICLES INDEX, Pathogens, Allergens and Other Indoor Particles - Medical Health Effects of Mold (separate online document)
- MOLD BY MICROSCOPE Mold under the microscope - photo identification of the most common indoor molds found in buildings
- Mold FAQs Answers to Most Questions about Indoor Mold, Mold Related Illness, Mold Cleanup, Mold Prevention
- US EPA: Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Building [Copy on file at /sickhouse/EPA_Mold_Remediation_in_Schools.pdf ] - US EPA
- Mold spores in the Home - a Photo ID Library for detection and identification of mold allergens
- Mold Test Kits - How to Collect and Send Your Own Mold Sample to our mold testing lab or to any mold lab you wish
- Most Common Indoor Molds Found in Buildings, A Table of
- Mycology, Fundamentals of Diagnostic, Fran Fisher, Norma B. Cook, W.B. Saunders Co. 1998, ISBN 0-7216-5006-6 (buy this book at Amazon)
- Ozone Warnings - Use of Ozone as a "mold" remedy is ineffective and may be dangerous.
- Rot concerns in buildings-some building mold such as Meruliporia incrassata "Poria" risks serious rot and hidden structural damage
- US EPA: Una Breva Guia a Moho - Hongo [Copy on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Moho_Guia_sp.pdf - en Espanol
OTHER IAQ ISSUES: How To Find and Address Other Indoor Air or Indoor Environment Contaminants Besides Mold
Mold or allergens may not be the only or even the main indoor environmental contaminant. Don't let media attention to mold
cause so much enviro-scare fear that other, possibly more urgent hazards go un-addressed.
- Fiberglass building insulation and HVAC duct work insulation hazards
- Sewage and Septic backup contamination in buildings: inspection, testing, remediation, & references to expert sources
- Other environmental risks: Asbestos, carbon monoxide,
electromagnetic fields, environmental illness, fiberglass, MCS - multiple chemical sensitivity, toxic gases, etc
- Indoor Gas Sampling Plan
for Residential Buildings lists a number of toxic indoor gases which we test for, depending on the building
complaint and building conditions
- Ozone Warnings - Use of Ozone as a "mold"
remedy is ineffective and may be dangerous.
- Pet control - if you can't say goodbye to your bird, cat, dog, guinea pig, hamster, tropical fish, then limit the
areas they occupy and limit the airflow from that area to sleeping or other areas of the building, use allergenic
bedding, eliminate wall-to-wall carpeting, improve housecleaning including use of a HEPA-rated vacuum cleaner. For more details
see our article Dog, Cat, and Other Animal Dander - Information for Asthmatics and Indoor Air Quality
- Rodents, Mice, Squirrel Control - I find high levels of mouse and rodent dander, fecal dust, and urine-contaminated dust in some buildings,
and high levels of these materials in building insulation in those locations. If you have a mouse problem, particularly if mice and their waste (fecals or urine) are contaminating
the building HVAC or building insulation, may need both steps to clean up or remove infected materials and steps to stop an ongoing
rodent problem. If squirrels are a problem, the cleanup needs to include closing off entry openings into the building. Get some
help from a licensed pest control expert.