The High Stakes of Neglecting Rental Unit Maintenance: Legal Liability, Health Risks, and Mold

Improved Rental Health

Monica Gilroy, a real estate lawyer and founding principal of The Gilroy Firm in Atlanta, emphasizes that neglecting any of the basic maintenance services required for rental units can lead to legal liability for owners and landlords, obstacles for property managers, and severe health issues for tenants.

Every state mandates that rental unit owners must provide basic maintenance services such as heating and plumbing systems. This includes ensuring clean running water and ensuring the structure is sound and does not pose any unreasonable safety risks. Property managers must also be aware of potential risks associated with lead-based paint and mold.

Gilroy recently discussed ways to reduce risks associated with lead-based paint and mold with property managers. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed an update to the rule in July, requiring property managers to hire certified professionals to deal with repair, renovation, and remediation involving lead-based paint. If implemented, property managers may need to obtain certification for dealing with lead-based paint repair and remediation. Gilroy suggests that property management firms could have one person become certified to ensure compliance.

When tenants report mold in their living space or the building, Gilroy stresses the importance of investigating the situation promptly. It is crucial to review any test results obtained by the tenant and develop a checklist and written procedures in response to mold reports. Additionally, provide clear instructions to tenants on what steps they should take if they suspect they have encountered mold.

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