Written by David Lowrey, Owner of SFPM
As a Tampa Property Manager, I get calls regularly about mold being present in the home. Since we are a licensed mold remediator, we send out our tech and cut out the moldy material, treat with the proper chemical agent and repair damage. No big deal for most small issues.
However occasionally, you get a call saying they think mold is there and are reporting headaches, breathing issues, or worst of all, bloody noses. We send our mold tech from our Tampa property management company and find absolutely nothing. There is no visible mold. What do you do?
First off, it depends on your expertise. The typical thing to do is to call a mold company. However, they have a natural conflict of interest, and at least ½ of them will say you have mold, and you really don’t. You get presented a bill for $2000 or more to remediate something that doesn’t exist. I’ve had this happen to me 6 times in the last two years when the tenant calls a mold company to inspect.
The thing to always remember is there are mold spores in every part of the world, at all times, including Antarctica. If you see no visible signs of mold, the best bet is to call an Indoor Air Quality Specialist. They have a 4-year degree and are experts in identifying if there is a mold problem in homes or businesses where nothing can be seen. In Florida, they are not allowed to do remediation, so there is no conflict of interest.
You pay them $500-$600 and in a week you’ll have a comprehensive report that indicates if there is a mold issue or not. The key is to choose one that does mold reports for your local mold remediators. Some indoor air quality specialists will give you such a generic report to cover their butt, you can’t make heads or tales of it. You need one who will give you the report but also tell you over the phone if you have a problem, and how it should be fixed. Companies like Serve-Pro hire these specialists all the time for that very purpose.
An Indoor Air Quality Specialist is much more qualified than a tech from a mold company. They have specialized training and tools and will take samples and send to an outside laboratory for analysis. Since they aren’t getting paid to do the mold work, they won’t be inclined to lie to you.
I just had a tenant who called me telling me there was a mold problem. I went out personally because she told me her kids were getting bloody noses (I’ve had mold training and certification). Nothing was visible anywhere and my instruments did not show elevated moisture or a lot of particles in the air. So, I hired an Indoor Air Quality Specialist with the owner’s permission. By the way, this was a two-year-old home in a great neighborhood renting for $2700 a month.
A week later the report came back clean. There was nothing wrong. The owner still let them out of their lease because they had just moved from a home with a sever mold issue. We think they were extremely sensitive to dust or something from the dangerous exposure. They were exposed to a very dangerous, rare mold type.
It all ended well, but it could have easily gone into court had I not acted in this way. Did the owner waste $550 for the report? No, that was proof there was nothing wrong, but more importantly, if there had been something wrong we could fix it immediately before it got worse. This sort of event is rare, but it is important to have some knowledge of it. You don’t want to be standing in front of a judge just saying, “I didn’t see any mold.”
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