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Ask a real estate pro: Could growing green patch on ceiling be mold?

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Q: I recently noticed a damp spot on the ceiling of my rented apartment. I mentioned it to my landlord, who ignored the issue, wiping the area with a towel and spray cleaner. Now, it is getting larger with a small green patch. I am concerned that this may be mold, and my landlord does seem to take it seriously. What should I do? — Irma

A: You are right to be concerned and investigate further.

While some mold is almost unavoidable, especially in more humid climates, certain types of mold are dangerous, and a mold outbreak can damage both your health and the property you are living in. The earthy or musty smell of mold usually precedes visual signs. Health issues can be similar to seasonal allergies and can be severe for people with underlying conditions like asthma. Some types of mold can cause much worse problems.

This is not to suggest that every damp spot or strange odor is a sign of a problem, but you should investigate the cause to determine if you should be concerned.

You took the proper first step when you notified your landlord. Now, you should inform him that the problem is worsening and insist it is appropriately addressed. Take dated notes and plenty of photos, as this is helpful to help your landlord solve the issue, and in case you need to take action later if your landlord does not resolve it.

The apartment will need to be properly inspected to see what is causing the problem and determine if there is a mold outbreak.

Something is causing the issue, and the problem needs to be solved. Ask for a copy of the results.

If the problem is small, it might be fixable with proper cleaning and repairs. A more significant issue will require professional remediation, which can be expensive for your landlord and disruptive for you.

One of the best ways to deal with mold is to avoid having a problem to begin with. Keep the humidity in your home low. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers are great tools. Open the window on dry, cool days, but remember not to run your AC when you do. Keep your home clean and the clutter to a minimum. Use exhaust fans and generally maintain a good airflow around the house.

If you notice a leak or even a drip, fix it quickly before it causes a larger issue.

Board-certified real estate lawyer Gary Singer writes about industry legal matters and the housing market. To ask him a question, email him at gary@garysingerlaw.com, or go to SunSentinel.com/askpro. 

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