Inspecting for mold/mould prior to renting

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My family and I live in a ground floor apartment in an early 1900s house in Stuttgart, and although we vent and heat regularly and keep furniture a safe distance from the exterior walls, damp mold/mould has developed on exterior walls in several rooms during our first winter here. We moved in last April, and everything was freshly painted and had appeared safe and sound. We discovered that the previous tenant had mold issues, too, and had moved because of this, and the tenants directly above us have an apartment filled with black mold. I took a look around the outside of the house and also see issues corresponding to the places where we are having problems in our apartment, and the sandstone in the garage is so dank it's seeping with a variety of colors of mold. The basement here is also an issue. I've spent a long time reading other mold threads here, and believe we have been taking all the necessary precautions to avoid mold growth. It appears the mold is a structural issue, so we have decided to move.

 

After reading all the threads, I see this is a much more common issue in Germany than I had realized. What I'm wondering is, once we find a new place, is there a way to ensure that it is safe structurally from damp mold? Are there warning signs I missed? Can a professional inspector spot potential mold issues before they're noticeable? And if so, would it make sense it make sense as a tenant to hire an inspector to review a property prior to signing a contract? The last thing I want is to move to another moldy home.

 

Also, are there any resources where tenants can rate a place they live in? 

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What does your landlord say? Is she/he not willing to fix it?

 

Are you a member of the Mietverein? They can tell you your rights. Maybe your landlord needs to pay your moving costs if she/he refuses to make the place livable. 

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I think moving out is the best choice.  Obviously if the previous tenants had an issue then the landlord is aware and does not want to pay for the repairs.  Rather than fighting him which could take some time I think you should move.

 

@bramble posted this link in another thread today

https://www.vermieter-bewertung.net/

 

Here you can rate your apartment.

 

 

In terms of inspection, yes of course you can hire somebody but it will be at your own cost and is highly unusual. They will take samples/swabs from different places to try and find the problem.  

 

I must admit that (excluding Toytown) I have only ever heard of this problem twice before from people I know.

Once was in a apartment where there was nothing visible, but apparently there was some hidden Mold somewhere which caused one of the renters (two girls sharing) health problems (only discovered after an inspection), although the other renter continued to live there for many years with no issues at all.

And the other is in a newly built house, where of course the house is under guarantee but the seller states that it is not their problem and blames insufficient airing of the room, which is not true but difficult to prove.

 

This is not really just a German problem, but can occur anywhere in a similar climate.

 

Maybe also this thread is helpful

 

 

 

 

 

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59 minutes ago, CaliMarie said:

What I'm wondering is, once we find a new place, is there a way to ensure that it is safe structurally from damp mold?

 

Well, you could do a mould test in a prospective flat, for that you would need to open petri dishes and leave one in each room for 2 hours (if the prospective landlord won't agree to that, that's a big red flag), and then put the lids on back again and wait for a few days for the mould cultures to "multiply" in the petri dishes, so as to become visible.

 

Here is one such mould test (= Schimmeltest), at 38.90€ for 6 petri dishes (10 petri dishes 54.80€): https://www.amazon.de/Schimmeltest-f%C3%BCr-Hause-Schimmelpilz-Schimmelpilzbelastung/dp/B01M6CNPXU

5aa7df28b1797_-2018-03-1315_22_17-Schimm

 

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On 3/13/2018, 2:30:21, fraufruit said:

What does your landlord say? Is she/he not willing to fix it?

 

Are you a member of the Mietverein? They can tell you your rights. Maybe your landlord needs to pay your moving costs if she/he refuses to make the place livable. 

 

He is pretty useless and miserly unfortunately. He owns many properties, and in speaking with other tenants, many also experience mold issues. The previous tenant who had lived in our apartment also left due to mold. We want to relocate to Bavaria, and since we aren't a member of the Mietverein in Stuttgart, we'll focus our energy on moving and join a Mietverein membership in the new area we will live in.

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On 3/13/2018, 3:16:49, PandaMunich said:

 

Well, you could do a mould test in a prospective flat,

 

 

Thanks, @PandaMunich, for the great suggestion! Would be a perfect red flag if a landlord refused. Since mould tends to be a problem more often in winter, I wonder if a petri dish would still detect issues in summer? We're now planning to relocate from Stuttgart to Bavaria (possibly Augsburg), so I'll have to think of how we might orchestrate placing petri dishes in a potential new place.

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Thanks, @dj_jay_smith, for the thoughtful reply. In speaking with friends and other neighbors and tenants, I've heard many complain about mould issues. I've lived in a few other wet and cold climates but never heard of people experiencing mould issues as often as I do here. And I never heard people advise against the placement of furniture against exterior walls. That was a new one for me! Perhaps it's the type of building materials and heating systems. Whatever the case, this is not the first time I've moved into a place with mould problems, so I want to do everything I can to avoid this issue again. We are planning on moving, but the last time we tried relocating in Stuttgart, it took us two years of dedicated hunting. We're now broadening our horizons and want to relocate to Bavaria (maybe Augsburg) once new jobs are sorted. My partner has an interview in Augsburg next week. Fingers crossed!

 

That apartment-rating site you shared is great! Some of the photos there are pretty frightening. I wish more people used that site. When we move, I'll be sure to write a rating for this apartment. ;)

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Be aware that when you ask your possible new landlord to place petri dishes or do whatever kind of mold inspection, she/he may just refuse just because you may appear to be a difficult tenant, not necessarily because there is a mold problem. Especially when there are 20+ other people willing to take the flat as is.

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Good point, @fraufruit. That's one of the challenges with such high demand. Well, if the flat isn't vacant, we could interview the current tenants. I guess we could ask the landlord to connect with previous tenants if the flat is vacant; maybe that would be a harmless request. I would assume they shouldn't have a problem with that unless there were some issues they didn't want known. If we had requested to speak with the last tenant of this place, the landlord would have refused since there was a huge blowout and they had to go to court since he regularly harassed them and refused to return their caution. He had painted a very different picture when we first met him, so we didn't think to speak with the tenant.

 

I think we'll call an inspector to see what tips he/she may have on how to spot potential issues without going the professional inspection route. Really hope our next place is a million times better than this one!

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If the place has been recently painted, mold would be hard to detect unless you can smell it.

 

Again, when having an open house to rent out a place, potential renters who make unusual requests might go to the bottom of the pile. I'm not even sure if a landlord would be allowed to give you the contact info of the previous tenant. Perhaps someone else knows more about this.

 

We are in our 3rd flat and have never had a mold problem. Neither have any of our tenants in our little rental apartment.

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1 hour ago, fraufruit said:

 I'm not even sure if a landlord would be allowed to give you the contact info of the previous tenant. Perhaps someone else knows more about this.

 

We are in our 3rd flat and have never had a mold problem. Neither have any of our tenants in our little rental apartment.

 

I meant asking landlord to inquire with the previous tenant if we could contact them, not to give us their contact info. without permission of course.

 

That's great that you and your neighbors have no mold problems. Are you in an old or newer building?

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We were in 2 old buildings and our current one was built in the early 70's. I guess our rental is in about a 40 yr. old building.

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