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To prevent mold, you have to control moisture in your home.

Black mold sounds like Death. Who wants THAT around the house?
However, the fact is that mold is everywhere-in the air we breathe, in the soil, in our food (think of cheese). Here's some more facts.

  • Common mildew is mold. You are accustomed to seeing it in the shower stall and wiping it off.

  • Mold comes in all colors, but color doesn't tell you anything about mold's potential risk.

  • Mold becomes a problem when it comes in contact with moisture and starts to grow. 

  • The primary danger mold poses to humans is respiratory--mold can trigger allergic reactions that make it hard to breathe. We often call this reaction asthma but mold also aggravates Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other breathing conditions. 

    Mold needs moisture to become a problem to you in your home. When you encounter mold at home, find the water source. A leaky pipe or drain under a sink, condensation water dripping from an air conditioner, or rain water coming in thru a window, wall or ceiling. The most common form of mold at home is mildew which is often a result of bad ventilation when you shower.

    Sometimes it's hard to get landlords to address mold problems. Local health departments in Ohio view mold as an substance that can cause an allergic reaction...but not a disease. Often the health inspector will tell the tenant to clean up the mold with bleach. That rarely solves the problem. Without health department orders, a landlord may take the position that it's not a "health and safety violation." The key is for the tenants to give a written notice of the water leak. Water in the unit is usually a housing code a violation that the landlord is responsible to address.

    So what are the steps to take when you encounter mold?

1. Don't panic. If you are having allergy symptoms (trouble breathing, congestion, etc.) you may need immediate medical attention.

2. If the moldy area is less than 10 square feet, you may clean the area with DILUTE household bleach. Be careful.  Never mix bleach with ammonia.  If the area is larger, have your landlord arrange for professional cleaning.

3. Identify the water source and report the leak in writing to your landlord. The Ohio Landlord Tenant Law says you should wait a "reasonable time" before taking legal action. You may also want to call the HOUSING inspector to verify the leak.

4. After the water leak is fixed, then your landlord should remove and replace the contaminated material (wall board, ceiling tile or carpeting) that the mold was growing on and then seal the surrounding area. Just painting over the molded material is not enough. Be sure you share mold remediation information with your landlord and/or maintenance man. Don't assume that they know the proper way to address the problem. You can find remediation steps at

5. Improve indoor ventilation by using vent fans, dehumidifiers or air conditioning when you can't get air circulation from windows. If your rental home doesn't have bathroom and kitchen vent fans, you may ask for them to be installed. If you have asthma or other breathing problems or a known allergy to mold, you may be able to have this work done as a reasonable modification for a person with a disability.

Should you pay for a mold test? Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says no.   "Since the effect of mold on people can vary greatly, either because of the amount or type of mold, you can not rely on sampling and culturing to know your health risk. Also, good sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable quantity of mold have not been set. The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth."

More on mold here.

Mold, another healthy homes issue 
     Harvard’s Joint Center on Housing Studies recently made the point that tenants, not just owners, are interested in healthy homes. “One of the more compelling findings of the study was that renters expressed healthy housing concerns at a higher rate than homeowners.” .
      This week’s question from a RHINO member is “We have mold in our apartment due to a water leak that maintenance first said was just condensation dripping into the kitchen cupboard and making food wet. After 4 months the ceiling started to leak and we had to argue with maintenance about fixing the problem and that there is mold present. They're moving like turtles on taking care of the mold and we are all noticing headaches and bloody noses due to this mold in the kitchen. we would like some help with proving this is mold and making them move faster to provide us a safe living place.”
     RHINO suggests:
1. There’s no mold without a water source. While “officials” will dispute the health effects of mold, no one can doubt that water in cupboards is a code violation. Finding the source of the water can be important.
    • Take photos and ask friends & neighbors to be witnesses and write out statements about what they experienced (sights, smells, touch) 
    • Call your housing inspector whenever there’s water where it’s not supposed to be. Get a copy of the inspector’s report. 
2. See your doctor. Mold can cause a wide variety of unpleasant or dangerous symptoms. You may have grounds for a personal injury claim.
3. Give a written notice to correct the problem to the person or at the place where you normally pay rent (not the maintenance man). Wait for a reasonable time, not more than 30 days. If your MD tells you this is a ‘health emergency’ contact an attorney to get a “motion to compel repairs.”. Then put your next rent payment in escrow with your local municipal court. ( Ohio Revised Code 5321.07 )

Frequently Asked Questions
What should my landlord do about mold in my rental home?
Generally, the landlord is responsible for repairing moisture problems and cleaning up mold, unless it is a minor issue related to the tenant's behavior.

Common moisture problems in homes include pipe leaks, roof leaks, sewage back-ups, and over flowing toilets/sinks/bathtubs. If there is a known leak or water source that is contributing to mold growth in your rental home, request to have the leak repaired and/or water removed from your landlord in writing. Be sure to keep a copy of this letter for yourself.

What should tenants do about mold?
Tenants should also look at their own behaviors to determine whether they may be contributing to the moisture problem that is causing mold. Here are some tips:
    • Always use bathroom fans during and after bathing/showering.
    • Avoid spilling liquids on carpet. If this occurs, quickly dry carpets (if carpets stay wet, notify the landlord).
    • Use the kitchen fans when cooking.
    • Avoid using humidifiers unless there is a medical reason to use one.
    • Open windows when possible,
    • Don't block supply and return registers with your furniture
    • Keep a few inches of space between your furniture and the walls
    • Watch what you put down drains to avoid clogging and over-flows
    • use a dehumidifier
What is mold and why does it grow in my home?
Mold is type of fungus that is present in our natural environment. Mold spores, which are tiny microscopic "seeds", can be found virtually everywhere, including in homes, and are a part of the general dust found in homes. These spores can grow on building materials and furnishings if conditions are correct. Excess moisture is the critical factor in any indoor mold problem.

Can my health be in danger because of mold?
Molds are everywhere, making our exposure to molds unavoidable, whether indoors or outdoors, at home or at work. Health effects from exposure to mold can vary greatly depending on the person, the amount of mold in their home. The type of symptoms that may occur include coughing, wheezing, nasal symptoms and throat symptoms. People with asthma or allergies who are sensitive to mold may notice their asthma or allergy symptoms worsen. Individuals with severely weakened immune system who are exposed to moldy environments are at risk of developing serious fungal respiratory infections.

Subpages (1): Mold in the news
Spencer Wells,
Jul 30, 2015, 6:20 PM
Spencer Wells,
Jul 30, 2015, 6:23 PM
Spencer Wells,
Jul 30, 2015, 6:20 PM