Renter’s Guide to Spotting Mold


Rental unit mold can lead to short and long term health consequences. It can be difficult to get away from rental unit mold, as you spend a great deal of time in your residence. Many renters find that a unit seems great when they view it, but actually has a lot of mold. Once they’ve moved in they have to begin the process of urging the landlord to address it. Noticing mold during the unit viewing lets you bring your concerns to the landlord before you’ve moved in. These tips will help you spot mold before you move into a rental unit.


Steps to Spotting Mold

Rental unit mold hides behind appliances

The first place you should check for rental unit mold is behind appliances like in-unit washer, dryer, or dishwasher. Also check behind the stove, and above the stove as steam can create a warm, moist environment for mold spores. It can be difficult to do this discreetly. Obviously, if the property manager or owner is watching you want to keep your inspection respectful. You shouldn’t have to pry a stove away from the wall to check behind it. Simply shine a flashlight in the back in order to look behind it.

Be aware of dirt build up

If the rental unit is otherwise clean, beware of any “dirty” build up around window sills. Mold can look like grime from a distance. A thorough examination of the material will let you know whether you’re dealing with a stubborn mold colony or previous tenants who didn’t deep clean before they moved out. While neither scenario is appealing, dirt can be removed with a little elbow grease.

Check the shower area and bathroom especially carefully for mold. The moisture in the air makes these areas of the house the perfect place for mold to grow. Grout is porous. Mold can get inside of porous objects and take hold. If the grout in the bathroom seems discolored, damp, or crumbly, ask the property manager or representative about it.

Look out for mold-promoting conditions

You can check for mold even if you’re not comfortable inspecting the shower grout or peering behind the stove. Be on the lookout for mold-promoting conditions in the rental unit. High humidity and a lack of central air conditioning are big warning signs. Stagnant, damp air provides plenty of nourishment for molds.

Conversely, sunny, well-ventilated rooms are less likely to harbor mold. Easy to clean tile and wood floors are also positive signs. Recently purchased and/or well-maintained appliances are less likely to leak.

Watch out for discolored patches

Mold can stain wallpaper or paint even after it’s been scrubbed away. Rental unit mold is often easier to find by these discolorations than by its presence. Many rental units are cleaned before they’re available for viewing. This can eliminate obvious mold problems. A proper deep-cleaning can drive the mold away temporarily, but not the signs it left behind.

Renters need to keep their wits about them when inspecting a rental unit. Discolorations on the wall, dirt or grime in the bathroom, and smudges behind appliances are all signs that mold is a problem in the unit. Keeping an eye out for signs can help you start the cleanup discussion with your potential landlord before you’re locked into the lease.

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