Proper/reasonable way to deal with water damage in an apartment
July 25, 2007 3:29 PM   Subscribe

Water Damage: The apartment I'm moving into has significant water damage from last May, and the landlord has promised to fix it. What should I know about water damage repairs to make sure my health isn't going to be risked from shoddy repairs? This apartment is in Austria, if that's important to know.

The previous tenant tells me some sort of water line broke in the apartment, which led to water damage: one 5 ft^2 area of linoleum and hardwood floor is a bit warped, and the bathroom, closet and water-closet rooms all have some walls with water damage (from the floor up about 3-4 feet, looks a bit yellowed, like on this ceiling from some random picture off of google images [the pale yellowing closer to the camera]:)

So my questions are:
-Given the description, how likely is it that there is some sort of horrible deadly mold that will kill me or hurt my lungs, living in my apartment?

-What is the 100% proper way of dealing with water damage?

-What is the less than 100% proper, but still just fine way of dealing with water damage? For example, if simply cleaning and painting the walls with good paint/sealant will provide good protection from mold, then that would fit in this category.

-What is the wrong way to deal with water damage, that is clearly a cost-cutting maneouver on the part of my landlord, and should not be tolerated? (And one may have legal grounds to force the issue)

-Basically, how much of a stink do I make about this? What's a reasonable request of one's landlord, particularly when I'd like to establish a good landlord-tenant relationship? (I might be wanting to sublet my apartment at various times, which is technically a lease violation, and would benefit from a good relationship with my landlord) I'd also like to be able to live in my apartment without 3 months of construction going on inside of it.

-I've been contacted by the repair firm, which is Fischer Franz, Maler und Anstreicher ( Seems like these guys are for the most part painter/wallpaper guys. Is this the sort of company that might be qualified to deal with water damage repairs?
posted by sirion to Home & Garden (3 answers total)
You will need to know it quickly and how thoroughly it was dried in order to guess about what repairs are necessary, or if mold even had a chance to grow at all. You can hire a company to test for mold spores in the air. You can ask the landlord to pay for this test before you move in. But, from my experiences with mold, it's much more likely to grow in a situation where there was on-and-off exposure to a little moisture than a one-time exposure to a lot of moisture, so I wouldn't worry too much.
posted by Eringatang at 4:51 PM on July 25, 2007

It also depends on what material the walls are made of. Plaster will dry with little or no mold. Sheetrock that is lined with paper will grow mold like crazy. If you should happen to have paperless sheetrock, little or no mold.
posted by JujuB at 8:47 PM on July 25, 2007

It doesn't say in your profile, but in case you're new to Austria: during my time there (renting one bedroom in a 2BR house, so I got to see my housemate interact with her landlord & service providers), everyone I observed was EXTREMELY exacting, attentive to detail, honest and "correct." I think you have a better chance of correct & non-cost-cutting repair there than almost anywhere else I've seen in the world.

(There's also a better-than-average chance -- just offering this as a thought so you can have a Plan B -- that you won't be able to talk the landlord into allowing anything that's explicitly prohibited in the lease.)
posted by allterrainbrain at 9:40 PM on July 25, 2007

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