The sale was moving along, until tenant talked about mold

Real Estate Agent with Alain Pinel BRE 01367196

The sale was moving along, until tenant talked about mold

There was a fabulous offer, and it was promptly accepted. Buyer ordered inspections. Things were moving along quite well.

Until the tenant mentioned mold. Buyer freaks out and bails.

But is it really mold?

The seller said he’s had no complaints from previous tenants about this particular unit, until this tenant moved in. The tenant rarely opens the windows for natural ventilation.  So naturally, mildew could form.

I remember when I first moved to San Francisco and stayed at my sister’s flat. The bathroom window was rarely cracked open, and as such, mildew formed in the ceiling and corners. My sister was afraid it was mold. Simple enough solution: I opened the windows, and washed down the mildew with bleach. Voila!

But how does one know for sure?

Here’s a A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home published by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).

Mold control

  • The key to mold control is moisture control.
  • If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem.
  • It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.

Moisture and Mold Prevention and Control Tips

  • When water leaks or spills occur indoors - ACT QUICKLY.  If wet or damp materials or areas are dried 24-48 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most     cases mold will not grow.
  • Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
  • Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation, so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
  • Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
  • Keep indoor humidity low.  If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60 percent (ideally between 30 and 50 percent) relative humidity.      Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter, a small, inexpensive ($10-$50) instrument available at many hardware stores.
  • If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes ACT QUICKLY to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source.      Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.

Addressing the tenant situation

The landlord was apprised of the tenant’s concerns and will take action.

But how do we educate the tenant on what he should do to control the mold situation? Or is he hoping to scuttle the sale by scaring buyers? Or is he hoping for cash for keys? We already know that tenants from hell can, do and will jeopardize a sale.




Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Wallace S. Gibson, CPM 08/27/2012 01:07 PM
  2. Erica Ramus 08/27/2012 06:04 PM
  3. Charles Stallions 09/07/2012 08:11 PM
Home Selling
California Alameda County
Diary of a Realtor
Bartender, Make it a Double
Club Chaos
mold inspection
preventing mold
tenant to buyer
epa guide to mold
correcting mold
tenant landlord buyer

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Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents

Pacita unfortanately tenants fear new owners and can do things to wreck a sale. What they dont realize is that a new onwer who was intending to keep them can be scared away for an owner who wants everyone out so they can be the cause of their own demise. Communication with tenants is key to educate them on the sale.

Aug 28, 2012 05:31 AM #34
Amanda and Jared Christiansen
Century 21 Bradley (260)704-0843 - Fort Wayne, IN
Century 21 Bradley Realtors

I'll never forget a house I saw a few years ago.  The entire basement was full of black mold.  I didn't go down.  It was pretty disgusting.  Mold is scary.  

Aug 28, 2012 05:46 AM #35
Harry F. D'Elia
Real Estate and Beyond, LLC - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

Nobody likes that four letter world MOLD because it means possible lawsuit so we avoid it.

Aug 28, 2012 06:19 AM #36
Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group
Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001 - Gaithersburg, MD
301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA

Tenants can be so vicious sometimes. . why is that?

I heard that MOLD is really like an alien invasion. . and the Government is secretly looking at it. .yeah, that's the scoop!. .that is why we went to Mars. .

Aug 28, 2012 06:36 AM #37
Wayne Bennett
One Home Team Realty/Charlotte,NC 704-293-3931 - Charlotte, NC
Real Estate...As It Should Be

Water, mildew, and mold has cost me more deals than I care to mention....good information, thx for sharing

Aug 28, 2012 06:55 AM #38
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

This subject is the KISS OF DEATH....Once mentioned, it is logged in forever as part of the history of the property

Aug 28, 2012 07:05 AM #39
Kathryn Maguire (757) 560-0881 - Chesapeake, VA
Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach

Gotta love tenants!  Sometimes mold is no big deal, sometimes not.  But you should rely on a professional to tell you if you have to be worried or not.

Aug 28, 2012 07:57 AM #40
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Jean --- it is important to know the difference, true. But we have to learn how and what to look for.

Laura -- we communicate regularly with the tenants and are very careful with scheduling.  The landlord met with the tenant and he denied saying anything negatve about the property. He admitted that his choice of word may have been porrly chosen because what he really wanted to say is that there could be mildew, not mold.

Christine --- good for you and for the buyer

Karen --- lucky that your inspector also knows mold. You've got two inspectors for the price of one :)

Gita --- glad you found this helpful.

Aug 28, 2012 09:07 AM #41
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Scott -- I once had someone tell me that water gives us life, but it can kill a house.

Scott G --- tenants need to understand that if they want to stay, they should be on their best behavior or the new landlord may get rid of them.

Christensen team --- that must have been awful!

Harry -- lawsuit and remediation. I read about Erin Brockovich' house being mold-infested. Can you imagine, going up against her?

Fernando -- it's because of all the horror stories about mold that people may overreact at the simplest evidence of mildew




Aug 28, 2012 09:11 AM #42
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Wayne -- glad you found this information helpful

Richie -- that's why we have to be very careful about using this word anywhere unless we are absolutely certain. Only professionals will really know.

Kathryn -- and professional opinions are the only ones that count

Aug 28, 2012 09:13 AM #43
Gay E. Rosen
Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty - Larchmont, NY
As Real as Real Estate Gets!

Pacita - congrats on the feature. I just had contracts signed on a home with all types of mold.. We had it tested, and that heped us negotiate for some more money off.. and my buyers will be taking special measures.... It can be scary, but as long as it is tested, and the buyers know how to remediate it... first getting rid of the mositure/leaks, etc. and using a good reputable company, then all good.. 

Aug 28, 2012 09:58 AM #44
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA


Congrats on closing the transaction and good luck during the remediation. As you said, there is bound to be a resolution...and from there, preventive measures.

Take care

Aug 28, 2012 10:13 AM #45
Kevin Mackessy
Blue Olive Properties, LLC - Highlands Ranch, CO
Dedicated. Qualified. Local.
I understand people getting nervous at thirst mention of mold. But is it really always toxic mold that's found? Only after making a 100% guarantee on the identity of the fungus should a decision to leave be made.
Aug 28, 2012 12:18 PM #46
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA


I agree...the buyers should have waitied for the mold inspector's report (they paid for it, after all) before making a decision. But buyers backed out before they got the news: no mold. What the tenants talked about was mildew! A

Aug 28, 2012 12:22 PM #47
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Pacita, that is a classic case of overreacting - can't believe they didn't even wait until the report was back to make the decision.


Aug 28, 2012 08:37 PM #48
Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411

Pacita, never a dull moment.  Maybe the buyer was looking for a way out?  The tenant sounds like they may become bigger problems in the future, but it's hard to be 100% certain.  IF they're correct it could be a real problem. There is testing for the type of mold spores.  I've seen owners who had to replace sheet rock because the spores live inside the sheet rock and can survive bleaching and sealing.

Aug 28, 2012 09:58 PM #49
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Leesburg, VA

Paciya, we now require tenants to sign on the move in inspection that " There is no visible evidence of mold". Some tenants have tried to create mold in order to use that as an excuse to withhold rent payments. Sound slike those buyers were just looking for any excuse to bail? Mold can be treated and eliminated, no matter how bad it is.

Aug 29, 2012 02:45 PM #50
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Frank and Sharon -- funny thing, the buyers have another change of heart and would like to get back in contract. Told them they'll have to resubmit offer after a group showing on Friday at 11 am...And there's no guarantee their offer will be the best this time.

Lloyd -- buyers came back. And tenants denied they mentioned mold (but I know they did).

Jeff -- what a good idea! But if there really was mold but it was concealed by new paint and wasn't discovered until much later ....then what?

Aug 29, 2012 04:23 PM #51
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Leesburg, VA

Pacita, Well if the landlord painted over mold, and it grew back, then there is probably a source of moisture somewhere, and it should be fixed. The sooner it is treated , the better.

Aug 29, 2012 05:29 PM #52
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Jeff -- this landlord didn't paint. I was just curious about other possible scenarios  for other properties if the attempt was made to contain and then conceal.

Sep 03, 2012 06:42 PM #53
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Pacita Dimacali

Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

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