Renter Awareness is Crucial
I was called to inspect a property by a tenant, a single female. She lives in a large complex in RSM which had a water heater leak that affected a wall in her laundry. These types of leaks are not usually noticed right away and as such this grew mold inside the wall on the insulation and wall studs as well as behind the removed baseboard.
To make a long story short the management sent a company’ to deal with the situation. Drywall was removed and a dehumidifier installed in the room for about 1 day. The next day they were going to use a ‘mold paint/primer’ to cover over the ‘dark’ areas without removing/cleaning the area before making repairs. There are specific guidelines and protocol to remove mold. However, the personnel doing the work made statements saying ‘we don’t know that it is mold’ and later said that ‘it is not mold’ to the tenant. They cannot make such statement as they are not qualified to say it.
I inspected the property yesterday (after seeing pictures from the tenant showing obvious mold) and determined, with information from the tenant, that proper protocol was never followed by this company to protect the tenant and remediate the area.
Because of not following industry procedure the tenant was exposed to mold, mycotoxins, and category 3 water dangerous bacteria. The wood studs and flooring was also still wet (meaning well above the 18% threshold for dryness) up to 99% in some areas. They were still going to put the drywall back and the baseboard with everything still wet. This would continue to help mold and dangerous bacteria grow and affecting any persons living there. Much more work has to be done before repairs can begin.
She had not allowed the crew to repair the drywall leaving a bunch of visible mold there and had them leave. The management was apparently not liking this and tried to tell her that she was keeping them from doing their job and even said that she did not have permission for an inspector, like myself, to assess the situation and that it was not allowed. Of course, California law does allow for this and tenants have this right especially since it is a ‘Health and Safety Issue’. The tenant said the management threatened her in some legal fashion.
This is sad and outrageous at the same time. FYI: you can get information about Renter’s Rights and Responsibilities on the net for California by just typing that in the search and will find a pdf with this information. You can also contact fairhousingfoundation.com. They have various locations/phone numbers that cover different areas of the state. They can help you understand your rights better with your particular situation.
Renter’s rights let’s renters hold back rent until certain work is performed that would normally be required by the landlord. Of course, the rent would need to be paid once the work is done. Renters also have the right to ‘repair and deduct’ twice per year as long as it does not go over the monthly rent when following the guidelines.
Usually, when a landlord knows you are serious and you show them your rights that require them to remove mold and toxic organisms, like bacteria, many will get to doing what is needed especially if a potential law suit is threatened. You do need to insist that the people doing the work of water mitigation or mold remediation be certified for this work and you can even ask for their certifications.
Anyway, my report will be forthcoming next week after I get samples back from the lab to send to the tenant who will then pass it along to the landlord. In these situations I will always cite CA Senate bill 655 that requires landlords to keep the property free of dampness and mold (which also includes microorganisms like bacteria) and help the landlord understand what there obligations are.
Continue to stay safe during our pandemic.