As an investment property owner in Chicago, you’ve likely come across a deal at least once in your career that sounded great at first, only to turn into a mess after you found out about electrical problems, a shaky, non-level foundation, or mold within the property. Whether you saw the sale through or walked away, chances are you learned some lessons about damage levels or other issues in properties that make your investment worth it, as well as when you should throw in the towel.
When it comes to mold in properties, it can be an insidious problem, and one that is difficult to “diagnose” and solve, but in the long run, making sure your property is mold-free can save you a lot of trouble. As a property management company in Chicago, we at Lofty understand that mold can be a frustrating issue to deal with in investment properties, whether you’re negotiating a sale or you’ve already purchased a building. For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of aspects to consider when purchasing a property that has any mold–what you need to know, what’s fixable and how to go about doing so, and when you should walk away from a sale.
What Is Household Mold, How Does it Grow in Chicago Investment Properties, and How Can You Prevent It?
Before you get worked up and nervous, it’s important for us to point out that while no one wants to hear that their property has mold in it, it’s not the end of the line for your building. In other words, finding mold doesn’t mean you’ll have to level the building and start from scratch to truly get rid of it.
Mold, if you don’t already know, is a simple microscopic organism that exists everywhere— they’re required for the breakdown of organic matter, and they help recycle nutrients back into the environment. Great when it’s outdoors (except for those of you lucky ones with seasonal allergies!), but not great at all when it’s indoors.
Molds reproduce extremely quickly, which is why managing and getting rid of it can be a difficult job. The spores are miniscule, and unfortunately, can grow on just about any surface, which makes homes and interiors the perfect spot for them—they can grow on wood, paper, carpet, dust, insulation, fabrics, and near windows, just to name a few spots.
Mold doesn’t mean you’ve got a dirty building, though—many spores are invisible to the naked eye, and you’d never notice if your tenants or any pets are tracking them in from outside. However, they can grow and take hold of a building before you know it.
Some of the health problems it can cause include:
- Allergy-like symptoms, such as sneezing, a runny nose, itchy and red eyes, and skin rashes.
- Asthma attacks
- Throat and lung irritation
Being exposed to mold most often causes a reaction that’s similar to the feeling of being sick with a cold, so it’s important to make sure you do everything you can to prevent it spreading.
The best thing you can do prevent mold within your properties is to make sure that moisture is controlled. Respond to any requests of water damage or broken windows promptly, as well as any basement leaking or other issues that could cause mold growth, like a leaking roof. Make sure your buildings are well-ventilated as well, so that moisture that does accumulate can evaporate.
What to Do If You Find Mold in a Chicago Investment Property
If you or a tenant finds mold on the premises of one of your buildings, you’ll need to work with mold remediation companies, and even possibly the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine the best course of action. Discuss with your property management company when to bring in mold cleanup contractors, as they’re likely already working with reputable businesses in your area.
As a landlord, you’re required to ensure that your rentals are habitable, which means that unless the cause of the mold is tenant behavior, you’ll be responsible for getting rid of it at your own cost.
To find out whether there is mold in an apartment building or other investment property you are considering, inspectors can conduct an assessment, and there are also do-it-yourself mold testing kits available. Depending on the severity of the mold’s takeover, repairs can be done at an affordable rate. However, if you’ve yet to purchase the property, how can you know if it’s worth spending the money to repair mold issues, or if you should just abandon the sale?
Should You Walk Away from Purchasing Investment Property in Chicago that has Mold?
One way you can safeguard yourself when negotiating a deal on a property that’s been found to have mold is to ask for contingencies to be added to your written offer. These contingencies allow you to walk away from the sale if major problems are found—or, alternatively. Purchase at a reduced price or require the seller to cover the repairs.
If you find visible mold, more extensive testing should be done to find the moisture source, seeking out where the problem truly lies. While mold can be fixed, the root of the issue can be an indication that much more expensive repairs will be necessary. For instance, poor drainage, roof or foundation problems, faulty plumbing, and flooding damage can all be very expensive to mediate and repair.
Inspectors will be able to determine the extent of any mold damage, as well as what kind of mold is within the property. From there, you can work with your property management company to determine what the relative cost would be to repair the associated issues.
Whether you stay the course or walk away will come down to your own preferences as well as whether you see value in a property even with required maintenance costs added to the buying price. Your Chicago property management company will be able to offer some insight as well, based on previous experience with repairs related to mold problems.
If you do decide to walk away from a specific property, worry not—your property managers will be able to steer you toward a comparable, or perhaps even better, property investment opportunity.
Need More Advice?
Whether you’re dealing with mold issues in a property you already own, or you’re considering purchasing investment property and you just learned that there are mold issues to be dealt with, a property management company will be able to lend a hand. At Lofty, our goal is to help property investors make the best decisions for their business, as well as take care of the issues that are pressing with potential or current investments. Maybe you don’t have the time to schedule all of the maintenance associated with mold remediation, or perhaps you don’t live in the area and can’t be on site when contractors are there. Whatever the case may be, we’ll take care of everything so that you can do other important work and live the life you deserve.
For more information about how Lofty can help you with your Chicago investment properties and beyond, contact us today.