Mold at rental property

I am located in NY have two rental homes in the Richmond area of VA, been in the rental game for about 10 years with much success. (mostly minor issues nothing major, always collected rent on time). About four months ago there was a water leak from the upstairs bathroom drain, some water did come down to the main floor ceiling and leaked through. I had it repaired by a plumber the next day and the ceiling spackled and repainted the next week. (I always make repairs quickly, this is a house I would live in, I’m not a slumlord). Now three months later, the tenant is calling saying she smells mold.

They pay rent on time and take care of the property. I have a home warranty and home owners insurance, neither cover mold issues. I am having my painter go check it out this week.

My questions are:

  1. Should I have it looked at by a mold company? Concerned about disclosure of mold as well as the cost.

  2. Concered about legal issues, being sued by tenant.

  3. Has anybody had any real life experience they can share.

  4. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  5. The home is in my name, I have rental insurance on home, should I have any other insurance?

Thank you

There is no insurance that I know of that will cover mold.

We had a lesson last year in mold, also in an out-of-state house that our PH.D tenant was watching over. Like in watching over the slow leak from the dishwasher that ran slowly into and under all the kitchen cupboards.

Finally the tenant complained of mold smell and we flew out there. She “Hadn’t wanted to bother us before, it didn’t look serious.”

You need to get a reputable mold mitigation company out there. This is not easy to do–there are all kinds of shysters in the apparently unregulated mold business.

Finally we found a reputable company by calling a couple of MOLD LAWYERS and asking who they use locally for their clients.

The mold mitigation people came out and took air and heat duct samples. They documented the species of molds and the unhealthful levels. They next showed up in space suits and re-breathing masks, sealed off the kitchen with hanging plastic curtains, and took out ALL THE LOWER KITCHEN CABINETS and put them in the garage. They bagged and took out the mold-blackened wood cabinet pieces. They had stuck in some kind of big machine to suck out air.

They returned the next day or two once everything settled and re-tested the air to rule out dangerously high levels of mold spores. They then pronounced the house safe in writing. The tenants elected to stay in the house during this procedure, they just stayed in their rooms and did not use the kitchen. The alternative would be to put them up in a motel.

I believe this all cost around $2000. That would still be way cheaper than responding to a mold lawsuit because your tenants now have asthma or allergic-type illnesses.

Do not take this lightly. You might even offer to rescind the tenant’s lease so that they could move out of your house right now until you determine if it is safe. The first time that tenant (or their children) gets a cough or a sore throat they will think, “MOLD!”

You other landlords out there…never allow a tenant to “watch a leak.” Any water leak is a red-flag emergency. A plumber is way cheaper than a mold remediator.

Please let us know how your story ends. We did not get sued, and we were able to pass the clean bill of house health onto the buyer when we sold this year.


Thanks for the info. in the long run that sounds like the cheaper option. I have no plans of selling in the near future and want to keep the house a high quality rental.
Thanks Billy

I think it’s unlikely that the water leak caused the mold. If the sheetrock got dry enough to repaint it should have allowed the stud cavities behind it to dry out too. Water vapor will migrate through sheetrock enough to dry it out to some extent, and mold usually doesn’t grow too quickly.

I would hire someone to come in and make a recommendation and share this with the tenant. If there is mold present I would not allow the tenant to stay there. Cancel the lease immediately!

I have someone checking it out this week. Hoping for the best.

Thanks for the help. Had the home checked out this week, no mold issues. Great news!
Thanks again Billy