Last year when I rented a “fixer upper” house in the Atlanta area, I got a good deal on the rent in exchange for doing some cosmetic work to the interior of the house. Little did I know, the house needed more than a bit of lipstick.
After I ripped up the carpet, refinished the floors, and painted the whole interior, a foul odor still lingered. I tried everything to get rid of the smell – from air purifiers to specialized cleaning solutions. Nothing seemed to work.
The first time it rained, I realized why the odor wouldn’t go away. Every time it rained, water flooded the front sunroom. The water didn’t come from one particular place, as with a single leak; rather, it streamed down the walls like a waterfall, making a large puddle on the floor. There was something fundamentally wrong with the construction of this room. Talk about sick building syndrome!
Of course I informed my landlord about the problem, and he said that he would fix it, but he never did. After a couple of weeks, I realized that he probably had no intention of fixing the problem; I believe that he was only interested in the property as an investment in the land and not the actual house.
I certainly wasn’t going to spend my own time and money to fix the place. Sure, I had agreed to do some specific cosmetic work to the house, but demolitition and construction were not included! So I simply sealed off the front room from the rest of the house. I moved out as soon as possible (because the odor still didn’t disappear completely) and subletted the place to someone else. While sealing off the room only encouraged mold growth, at least it prevented the majority of the spores from contaminating the rest of the house.
Months passed. The landlord never made the repairs, and I decided that it was time to wash my hands of this rental disaster since I was actually losing money by subletting. The only problem was that I had signed an extended lease, and I still had several months left on the lease. I didn’t want to pay the fines associated with terminating the lease early. As it turns out, I didn’t have to.
I had a secret weapon up my sleeve: the Toxic Mold Test Kit.
Toxic mold, or black mold, grows in areas with heavy water damage (like in rooms where extensive leaks are never repaired). Only certain types of mold, like Aspergillus Niger and Stachybotrys, are truly toxic. Toxic molds produce mycotoxins. These fungal toxins can lead to a wide variety of serious health problems, including asthma, hearing loss, bleeding in the lungs, pulmonary hemorrhage, and even permanent cognitive defects. That’s right, toxic mold can cause permanent brain damage.
(By the way, my favorite TV show is House MD. If you’ve ever watched the program, you know that Dr. House pays close attention to environmental health concerns. He often sends his assistants to break into patient’s houses to look for diagnostic clues. Toxic mold has been featured more than once on the show.)
If you think toxic mold may be growing in your home or office, take action immediately. A toxic mold test kit provides you with fast results. In just five minutes, you’ll know if toxic mold is present. The kit also includes bio-scan tape that you send to the Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory for a more detailed analysis of the mold specimens.
Needless to say, when I told the landlord that my test results were positive for toxic mold, he decided to simply let me move out without paying the early termination fees. (Landlords who allow toxic mold to grow on their properties typically don’t have much luck in court.) I paid about a hundred bucks for the test kit, but it saved me several hundred dollars in fines.