There's a fungus amoung us.
June 15, 2010 3:47 PM   Subscribe

Should I stay or should I go? (Apartment rental version.)

We're in the middle of an extensive renovation (complete demolition down to struts and base floor) of our bathroom, in a very very old converted rooming house. I've had increased difficulty with what I thought were allergy symptoms since it began. Now roommate has heard from dermatologist that a problem that she's having is likely linked to mold/fungus, etc. released from the work being done.

Lease is up shortly, haven't signed anything, but gave landlord verbal notice that I would stay. Other than the fact I'm having more trouble breathing, the apartment's great! I already own an air filter for the bedroom--what are the odds that the problem will go away once the renovation is complete (with new drywall, tiles, paint job, etc). Or is mold like pandoras box, meaning I just need to move for the sake of my health?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (3 answers total)
Bathrooms are particularly vulnerable to mold since they have all that plumbing which often leaks in various ways which can be hard to track down. IF the plumbing is all fixed and nothing is leaking, then after the full renovation, there is no reason why you should continue to have a mold problem. If you believe that the work is being done competently then you can be confident that the mold problem is temporary. And yes, I do speak from experience.
posted by grizzled at 4:12 PM on June 15, 2010

Is your landlord aware there are mold problems? Is that the reason for the construction? If not, start by letting him/her know about that. Whether or not the mold goes away completely as a result of the renovation depends in part on whether that is the goal of the renovation.

Second, best practices in mold remediation are to sequester the area with plastic sheeting, run a HEPA filter inside the area, and otherwise use care to prevent spreading the mold. You might tell your landlord that you are having problems and ask that either they switch to exercising greater care during the renovation, or that they put you up somewhere else until it's complete.

Next, yes, when cleaning mold, it can contaminate the areas around it. Even dead mold is not good to breathe. Now that they have spread it around your apartment, they may need to clean the apartment. The cleaning process is not horrible, as far as I've heard: basically just HEPA vacuuming and wet wipes (done extremely carefully).

Finally, my question would be whether the bathroom is the only location of the mold. If you're fairly confident of that, if they are renovating the bathroom to prevent future mold, and if they agree to be more careful about impacts to you during and after construction, staying is probably not a terrible idea. YMMV, TINLA.
posted by slidell at 6:54 PM on June 15, 2010

I would explain the situation to the landlord and say I'm willing to stay contingent on the mold situation being solved in a timely manner. So essentially add a clause to the lease that allows you to break it without penalty if the mold isn't fixed in (a reasonable amount of time).

This kind of thing may not fly depending on the size of the place, the demand for apartments in your area, but I think that should be a reasonable request from a tenant, since it IS your health at stake.
posted by ista at 8:20 AM on June 16, 2010

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