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Old 19.05.2010, 20:43
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Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

We live in a 4 bedroom apartment in Geneva. Two bedrooms have mold in the corners. I informed the owner, who is very lazy and just had someone paint over the mold. I wrote the owner a polite letter asking him to please inform us what he would do to fix the issue. I was shocked to receive a very arrogant letter informing me that he did not like the tone of my letter and that he would accept that we leave the apartment. In other words, like it or lump it. I have a family, and the rental situation in Geneva in a disaster. We do not want to move. We just want him to fix the mold problem as this could be very unhealthy for my children. What are my rights ?
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Old 19.05.2010, 20:45
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Re: Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

Get in touch with ASLOCA, they will be able to advise and help you.

http://www.asloca.ch/?q=node/102

Mrs. T
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Old 19.05.2010, 20:50
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Re: Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

Thank you Mrs T. I've used ASLOCA in the past, and they were helpful. However, I wanted to gain as much knowledge as possible on the matter, before taking a day off from work to consult with them. I will surely end up going there though.

Last edited by question_tennant; 19.05.2010 at 21:07.
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Old 19.05.2010, 21:05
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Re: Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

It really depends how significant the mould is. Mould can be treated firstly with a mould rid agent and then painted over using an anti mould paint. It might be best to wait and see if the mould returns before taking more action as the landlord may have used appropriate paint to destroy the mould.
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Old 19.05.2010, 21:11
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Re: Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

Hi AnAustralian, the mold came after a couple of weeks. I guess the landlord wanted to scare us to shut us up. However, I am really concerned about the impact it could have on small children. My son is 17 months old and my wife is expecting another child for September.
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Old 19.05.2010, 21:22
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Re: Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

We had similar mould in our apartment..after some paint it went away. He told us that it happened due to poor ventilation. Now its six months and its fine.
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Old 19.05.2010, 21:24
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Re: Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

Well, I have no idea really about tennant's rights etc. but I do certainly know about mould.

Trouble with mould is that it can be very tricky to get rid of. Unless you have an actual damp problem (that could be fixed) as well that is causing the mould chances are that whatever your landlord does it will come back at some point.

I would recommend investing in some mould killer - you can get this in DIY shops and some supermarkets - get one that has bleach in it - the more eco-friendly ones don't work well. And then treat it youself whenever it appears. And also the longer you leave it the worse it is to get rid of because the spores can spread - so don't hang about waiting for your landlord to pull his finger out when you can do it yourself. Anti-mould paint on top after you've killed the stuff will probably keep it away for 6 months or so, but as I said, chances are it will come back at some point.

In terms of health of your kids - that really depends on the scale of the problem. A little bit in the corner of the room is not a big deal, not pretty but not health threatening. A room that smells damp and has significant patches of mould is not somewhere I'd want my kids to be.

Another thing I'd say though - do you really want to live somewhere where the landlord couldn't care less? I mean what if you had a serious problem (e.g. heating broke in mid winter) what would his response be? Long term I'd think about moving if the landlord is useless.
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Old 19.05.2010, 21:25
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Re: Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

You definitely need to get that dealt with - it's not good for developing bodies to be exposed to mould!
Is the mould on (the inside of) an outer wall of the building, or an internal wall? This can make a difference in terms of getting rid of it, as mould can grow easily within outer walls and removing it completely can be a very expensive job for the owner: hence his hostile response ...

As the first reply said, though, make sure you have professional advice before saying anything more to the landlord.
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Old 19.05.2010, 21:49
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Re: Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

If the mould is caused by poor ventilation, such as leaving laundry to dry with nowhere for the condesation to go by not airing the rooms etc, then it is not the landlords problem. If the moisture is caused by water ingress then it is his problem, so you need to know where the moisture is coming from.

Unfortunately 9 times out of 10 it is down to a lack of airing by the tennant, and as such not actually anything to do with the landlord. So his reaction is not untypical, and it may simply just not be his problem.

I would wash down the areas with an anti-fungal wash, or a weak bleach soloution to ensure that any traces of mould are removed, and ensure the areas get proper ventilation. This may well clear the problem, if not then get a specialist report done to establish the cause, and who is responsible for correcting the problem.
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Old 19.05.2010, 23:22
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Re: Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

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Unfortunately 9 times out of 10 it is down to a lack of airing by the tennant, and as such not actually anything to do with the landlord. So his reaction is not untypical, and it may simply just not be his problem.
Yeah I used to have an apartment with the same issue about needing to be "aired out". The problem was the building was built in the early 50's using absolutely no insulation in the walls. Then in the 90's the landlord decided to improve the property by installing double glazed windows that sealed as tight as tupperware, that's when the mold started growing inside of the building. In the end the tenants were forced to keep at least one window open in each apartment at all times during the winter in order to keep the mold problem in check (it reduced but didn't eliminate the mold growth). It really defeated the whole point of installing insulated windows in the first place as the place was draftier with the new windows than it was with the old ones.
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Old 20.05.2010, 03:50
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Re: Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

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Hi AnAustralian, the mold came after a couple of weeks. I guess the landlord wanted to scare us to shut us up. However, I am really concerned about the impact it could have on small children. My son is 17 months old and my wife is expecting another child for September.
I would definitely get that checked out and fixed...I myself am extremely allergic to mold; it triggers asthma attacks for me (which I can get from other things sometimes, but mold is unique in that it makes my chest hurt really bad as well as constricting my breathing). Not everyone is as sensitive to it as I am though.
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Old 20.05.2010, 07:04
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Re: Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

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We live in a 4 bedroom apartment in Geneva. Two bedrooms have mold in the corners. I informed the owner, who is very lazy and just had someone paint over the mold. I wrote the owner a polite letter asking him to please inform us what he would do to fix the issue. I was shocked to receive a very arrogant letter informing me that he did not like the tone of my letter and that he would accept that we leave the apartment. In other words, like it or lump it. I have a family, and the rental situation in Geneva in a disaster. We do not want to move. We just want him to fix the mold problem as this could be very unhealthy for my children. What are my rights ?
The basic rights for any tenant include the ability to fully use the apartment he or she is renting. Mold in the apartment limits the objects usability (mold is proven to hurt you) so it's the landlords task to get rid of the problem. The usually course of action is:

- Write a letter (as you already did), outlining the problem. Send it via signed mail.

Your landlord reacted to the problem by sending someone to paint over the mold. Painting over the mold CAN get rid of it, if the mold was treated before and if the paint used is mold-resistant. However, the mold was there for a reason in the first place: either, the apartment was badly ventilated and / or heated. Mold develops when the optimal room climate of 21 degrees C and a relative humidity of under 50% isn't maintained. That either happens if you don't ventilate enough (open ALL (not just the one in the room that's hit by mold) windows in the apartment for 10-15 minutes 1-2 a day. It can also happen (and that's the case most of the time, unfortunately), if there's a problem with the insulation of the room. Either it's badly insulated or it's over-insulated. The latter is frequently the case in cellars and ground-level rooms - because there's the danger of humidity pushing in through the walls, the outer walls are completely sealed and cannot breathe anymore. Anyway - if the humidity is coming in from the outside, the landlord has to make sure the problem is fixed.

Here's what I'd do right now:

- get a de-humidifier and completely dry the rooms that are affected. At the same time, start cross-venting the apartment 1-2 (or more, if someone's home during the day) a day. Also get a hygrometer and make sure the humidity doesn't rise above 60% (closer to 50% would be ideal). If venting doesn't help after a couple of weeks, it's more than likely that the humidity is pushing in from the outside. That way, the mold will probably return within 2-3 weeks.

If the mold returns, sign another (signed) letter to the landlord. Also take pictures and send them. This time, while staying polite, state that you intend to seek a solution to the problem through the mediation office for renting issues. This is an community-run institution that's free of charge for you. Ask your community about the contact details. To open a case with them, simply send them a (signed) letter with the pictures etc. From now on, make sure you send all the correspondence to the landlord to the mediation board as well so they stay informed about your steps. They will contact the landlord and summon him for a mediation talk together with you. Usually at this time, the landlord will back down. If not: go to the mediation - it's free and they (at least when mold is the issue) usually decide in favor of the tenant.

Things to avoid:

- don't lose your calm. Always remain polite and don't threaten the landlord
- don't cancel your lease - you're more than likely to win this.

Don't worry too much: most of these cases are decided in favor of the tenant. Mold issues are extremely common, you're not alone (I know all this because we went through the same thing - we ended up getting the wall fixed and receiving 500 Fr. from the landlord in damages).

Peter
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Old 20.05.2010, 08:31
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Re: Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

Thank you for your replies. Our apartment consists of a basement where we have our laundry facilities (no mold there), ground floor (no mold) and the 1st floor where the 4 bedrooms are located. We open the windows every day to air out the apartment. The problem is due to poor ventilation (concrete does not breathe as well as bricks). We are treating the mold with a product once a month. The issue for me is, is that we pay a huge amount of money for rent and the landlord is always so slow and neglectful in resolving any issues. We had problems with the heating during the winter and it took him a month to resolve it. My family and I all had colds as a result of this. So i remain polite, but he clearly is just very neglectful. I will try the mediator in our commune to see if that will help. I should mention that the tenants in the same building, located on the opposite side have exactly the same issue. The bought humidifiers. I feel strongly that this should be at the cost of the landlord and not ours.
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Old 20.05.2010, 08:42
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Re: Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

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I feel strongly that this should be at the cost of the landlord and not ours.
I agree - and the heating issue probably caused the mold problem in the first place. I'd definitely contact the mediation board. Since your neighbors are having the same problem, you have an even stronger case here. Perhaps you could ask them to give you a written statement, outlining their own issues.

Peter
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Old 20.05.2010, 09:29
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Re: Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

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. I should mention that the tenants in the same building, located on the opposite side have exactly the same issue. The bought humidifiers. I feel strongly that this should be at the cost of the landlord and not ours.
Do you actually mean de-humidifiers?

You can buy a cheap humidity measurement tool at a DIY place. You can then measure the Relative humidity in all the rooms.

This will give you some idea at to whether it's a problem with damp in one place or a general problem with bad ventilation.
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Old 20.05.2010, 13:05
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Re: Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

apologies, I meant that the neighbors bought de-humidifiers.
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Old 24.05.2010, 09:44
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Re: Landlord refuses to fix mold problem in apartment

Excellent advice in this thread. Mould can be a health issue. Mould can also be treated by ensuring the room infected is well ventilated. Ie make sure windows remain open after showers. Use heating in the bathroom to reduce dampness etc. As a tenant there is a lot you can do yourself to ensure mould does not return. Without dampness, mould will not survive. It does need to be treated with anti mould agent and most likely anti mould paint.
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