Mold in Your South Florida CondoDr. Cohen is a snowbird, who usually resides in his South Florida condo six months out of the year. Upon returning from his stay up north, he finds that while he was away, his toilet overflowed, causing mold all over his bathroom.

This is a common issue for many snowbirds that do not reside in their condos for months at a time. Depending on the extent of the damage, this issue may not only affect Dr. Cohen, but may also affect his neighbors. If the incident is covered by Dr. Cohen’s insurance or the condo association’s insurance, they must notify the insurance company within 14 days of the occurrence. If not, Dr. Cohen or the association must cover all the costs.

However, since Dr. Cohen and the association may not have known about the mold for months, since Dr. Cohen was out of town, the 14 day notice may have lapsed, leaving Dr. Cohen and/or the association responsible for the entire cost of the mold remediation, which can run up to $6,000.

Situations like the one mentioned above, brings many condo associations to consider if the association should conduct checks during the months the units are vacant. By law, condo associations have the right to access all units for maintenance, at reasonable hours, with notice. Condo associations also have the right to require unit owners to provide keys to their units. If condo associations are able to conduct periodic checks of the snowbirds’ units, it could prevent mold from becoming a major issue.

Mold can be extremely dangerous causing respiratory problems, infections and asthmatic episodes.

Mold can easily be prevented by noticing the following signs and acting immediately:

  • Leaks from showers or bathtubs
  • Any flooding in a unit
  • AC issues causing water leakage
  • Leaky roofs or damp crawl spaces, usually caused by leaky roofs
  • Prolonged or constant plumbing leaks
  • Any prolonged running of water (toilet, etc.)

Here are the beginning signs of mold to look out for:

  • Peeling or cracked paint
  • Discoloration and bulging on drywall
  • The smell of a moldy odor
  • Small mold spots on any surfaces

Types of Mold:

  • Alternaria -found in showers or under sinks with leaky pipes. Also common in buildings that have had water damage. This type of mold can easily spread through an entire condo unit and into adjacent units.
  • Aureobasidium– found in units that have wooden surfaces, wallpaper, painted surfaces and window frames. It is pink and black.
  • Botrytis – grows in areas with high levels of humidity, like bathrooms with poor ventilation. Chaetomium – usually grows on drywall with water damage. It can usually be identified by its musty odor.
  • Cladosporium –Can grows on fabrics, like carpets, and on wood surfaces, like cabinets and floorboards.
  • Trichoderma– This usually grows on damp carpet or wallpaper.
  • Stachybotrys chartarum-This is more commonly known as “black mold” because it is slimy and black. This can be a very toxic mold, producing toxic compounds that cause severe health issues. This grows in areas that are consistently damp and in air conditioning ducts with leaking pipes or high levels of condensation.

Mold Remediation:
If you discover a water leakage in your condo or suspect mold damage, contact your insurance company right away. Also, contact a mold remediation specialist immediately. The specialist will inspect the surroundings to figure out the scope of the infestation, as well as the source. It is estimated that mold remediation can cost anywhere from $500 to $6,000, depending on the type of mold and the severity.

Have you or your condo association experienced an issue with mold? Tell us how you handled it in the comments section below.

by Ashley Dietz, Marketing Director, Campbell Property Management

  1. Ana k says:

    I have been living in my unit for 7 years.. two years ago I woke up and there was water coming from my ceiling… knocked on board memeber door and was told it had to be neighbors shower Pam from upstairs.. contacted management company and all they said was that is between you and the unit owner… unit owner would not allow plumber to investigate he had no leaks at the time… fast forward to a few year later same issue.. now we have a new management company and they told me he same thing… property manager called unit owner who said he called the plumber but he didn’t… I called managment company and sent a video of leak and informed them of my neighbors failure to comply.. hey did nothing . On feb6 I went into my guest bathroom that coonect to my master bath. The paint was warped.. the managment company said I had to call a plumber again.. plumber had to come when he could access both units.. which wasn’t until Friday… plumber thought it was a hippie that connected to soil socket but informed me the ceiling and dry wall was covered in black mold. Had someone come and removed black molded drywall and reloaded the leak wasn’t coming from the small pipe took videos of the main pipe leakinf and wasn’t contacted by plumber until Monday.my unit is 403 Unit 503 had a crack in the main pipe to the building the pipe that runs down the walls in the half bathrooms in the 1 1 and a half units. any time anyone from 703,603 or 503 used the toilet or sink sewage water was leaking into my drywall.. and going underneath my bathtub in the master bathroom.., the dry wall and ceiling was covered in black mold.. which explains why my husband and I have been getting so sick. The plumber told me that they were coming back this morning at 9am to replace the pipe in his unit. He did not have mold because all the dripping into my unit this is the pic from his unit of the cracked pipe all this could have been avoided if the hoa would have sent there plumber sooner. Who is responsible for the damage in my unit

  2. Inna Johnson says:

    Hello,
    For 12 years I own condo at Windsor West, Fort Myers on Broadway Ave. Im keep contacting my HOA Towne Properties about mold in hallway already for 3 years and nothing been done, nothing, not even bleach spray. Mold is growing. First time I contacted them when mold spot was 20in in diameter. Now its 5 feet in diameter, it getting close to my unit, but HOA still replying to me: we will fix it. What can I do in this situation? Three years its a long time. I already can smell it.

  3. Michael kirkbride says:

    Tools for snowbirds/second home owners: two thermostats that that can help are the Nest Thermostat and the Honeywell Wifi series. Both allow you to control the temperature remotely and monitor humidity. The Nest has a “cool to dry” feature that will maintain a humidity level even with out a HVAC system having a humidity control feature with low fan speed setting. My home can easily go into the 70% humidity range in the winter in Florida when no AC is required for cool periods, mold can follow if it is not caught, or someone leaves for an extended travel period. Additionally having been through a large mold remediation project with the homeowners insurance having a mold coverage feature, sad part was the mold insurance only covered $5,000 of the $35,000 bill so mold coverage is really pretty much a joke. In this case the home was a rental and the renter kept the thermostat at 68 degrees which meant lots of condensation which led to mold. All could have been avoided with wifi humidity notification via a Nest thermostat, or in this case 4 of them.
    If your investing in a new HVAC system consider variable speed units with built in Humidity features which will be much more efficient than the “cool to dry” feature used on a single speed HVAC. Make sure to add the remote monitor type thermostat also.

    • Brian Fuller says:

      These articles are very informative and can save hundreds of dollars to residents and business owners who are lucky to receive and read them. There are services that can treat the unoccupied or occupied residential and commercial structures that perform electrostatic disinfection spraying that is EPA approved and non-toxic to treat any and all of the above mold, bacteria or dangerous pathogens problems. check out http://www.byoplanet.com and http://www.cleanupagents.com

      We specialize in quarterly, monthly, weekly electrostatic disinfection spraying to kill mold, mildew, and other dangerous pathogens. This service costs less than pest control and will guarantee your home or business free from all of the above.

    • William King says:

      I have lived in my unit in a Fl. HOA for Over, 26 years and the exterior walls (stucco over reinforced poured concrete) are mildewed, cracks and the plastic screens under the sourfitts are also 26 years old and disengaging.
      These exterior walls have never been repainted or sealed. Not only that but our painting reserve ( was around $18,000.00 6 years ago) that was voted in by our members at the initial HOA meeting was removed and put in to a contingency fund which was illegal.
      Our members health is being jepogized by this mold and mildew condition?
      How can I get our management co. And Board to take action ??
      Our Management Co. Does not even check on our buildings or grounds !!!

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