Many believe that mold/fungal growth is unregulated, and that there are no real processes or procedures for handling a mold complaint. However, more and more Housing Authorities, local municipalities, and states that are passing their own mold remediation regulations/guidelines. District of Columbia and New York City have been some of the first regions to create mold regulations. There are also written standards of care through the National Apartment Association (NAA), Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American Society for Testing and Materials, and others.
What do you do when an email comes in from a tenant saying, “I have mold in my unit?” Typically, a service ticket is generated, then maintenance enters unit and talks to the tenant. Maintenance then assesses the situation and attempts to solve the service ticket.
Depending on the magnitude of the mold or moisture infiltration problem, you may wonder if you should contact a third-party mold professional. For example, in the event of a flood, mold remediation contractors, duct cleaners, and mold inspectors/ assessors are typically called.
But what if you don’t ask for help from a third-party professional?
What happens if you decide that the issue is something that can be handled in-house, and you decide to treat the affected area and to resolve the ticket? This depends on your training and documented procedures for handling each case. However, typically, you end up getting another call from the resident that they think there is still a problem because they smell mold, or their breathing has been affected ever since property staff have been there.
Now what do you do, as a property manager? Do you send maintenance back in to look at the unit?
If so, maintenance staff make a decision to do more work, or maybe they decide there is nothing wrong and close the ticket. However, time goes by and the resident is still making complaints. The tenant becomes progressively more combative, and any potential issues not resolved from the first visit are getting worse.
You reach the point that the problem is worse, the tenant is extremely dissatisfied, and you have no choice but to call in third party professionals as a last option.
Calls to duct cleaners, carpet cleaners, mold remediation contractors, individually attack the problem with no real process or direction. Involving these types of contractors can be appropriate, however, without a clear direction these can be costly, timely, and ineffective.
The best thing to do when a service ticket comes in saying, “I have mold in my unit”, is to call a mold professional inspector/ assessor.
The assessor/ inspector will complete an investigation, not only to identify if there is in fact a fungal/ moisture infiltration issue, but to identify the source.
The investigation can involve, but is not limited to – moisture readings, humidity, interview of tenant/ property management, infrared scanning, visual and olfactory observations, borescope technology, and air/ surface sampling.
Once the investigation is complete your professional mold inspector/ assessor should be able to tell you if you have a fungal/ moisture infiltration issue. If you don’t have a fungal/ moisture issue, you can close out the ticket and rest assured that you have ample data to support the closing of the ticket. If you do have an issue your mold professional can write a scope of work with parameters on setup, scope, clean up, clearance, contractor selection, and project oversight.
Through this process, your mold professional can document all the steps taken to solve the issue, the reconstruction, the safety precautions taken, the clean-up, and clearance. Once completed you will receive a full report with all the data to support closing out the ticket.
Of course, all situations are different. This is a mere example. However, having a clear and concise direction start to finish not only can save money and time, but the appearance to care for the property’s residents.