This week the question for Ask Landlord Hank is about tenants refusing to heat bathrooms and whether it can can cause mold. Remember Landlord Hank is not an attorney and is not giving legal advice.
Dear Landlord Hank,
I have several tenants who refuse to run the heat in the bedrooms and bathroom because they say it costs too much for the electricity.
They also leave all the doors shut in their units, thus causing black microbial growth in the unit.
My questions are: First, did not using the heat in these rooms in fact cause this growth? And second, how do I get them to understand that they need the heat and air flow?
Dear Landlord David,
Black mold can grow on material that has a high cellulose content such as drywall, paper, and so on in moist and damp conditions.
The area has to be constantly damp or moist.
If the rooms are cold and not damp, I don’t think you have mold, but you might want to buy a mold test kit from Home Depot or Lowe’s and check.
I would worry about water pipes bursting in freezing temperatures; I put out freeze warnings when the temperature drops to the mid-20s on my multifamily properties, with instructions to drip water in all faucets and leave cabinet doors open under vanities and the kitchen sink to allow warm air to keep pipes from freezing.
My tenants know that if a pipe breaks in their unit because of their negligence they are responsible for repair costs.
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