How should I handle this landlord situation?

I live in a rowhouse in eastern Baltimore. The neighborhood is very good. The area is clean. I live across the street from a large park (yes, you Baltimorians will be able to know exactly where I live based on that ;)). I have friendly neighbors. My house is fairly large and has decent amenities for the rent I pay, which isn’t excessive at all.

I’m happy here. However, there’s one issue with the house that’s been pretty taxing on my nerves.

The bathroom is very small. It has absolutely no ventilation whatsoever. I’m not talking about a vent that doesn’t do anything… I mean it has no vents. None in the walls, ceiling, floor, or doors. As you can imagine, it gets plenty humid in there after a shower.

The humidity has caused problems. The mildew is sickening. A top-to-bottom scrub-down will cover the smell, but one shower later and everything’s the same as before. The grout and tub sealants have turned black with mold. It’s not healthy. Taking a shower with the door open is not an option as I have a female roommate.

When my first year’s lease was up, I told the landlord that I would like to stay, but the bathroom is a problem. He said the bathroom used to have ventilation, but it leaked, so they took it out. He told me he’d let me know if he comes up with a fix. I told him even installing a vent on the door would be a major help.

I called him a week later and he told me he’s not really willing to do anything about it, not even install a vent on the door. He said if there’s mold, then I should give it a good bleach scrub-down. That’s it. :dubious:

I should also report that this 100-year-old house is actually owned by my landlord’s wife. She grew up in it and it has a ton of sentimental value to her. When we moved in, even minor alterations were pretty much prohibited. No painting, no holes in the walls (from picture hangers), no changing the blinds without approval, etc.

So what do I do? I like the house a lot and don’t want to move, but the bathroom’s becoming unbearable. I realize that mold is a health hazard and I could put the rent in escrow until he does something about it, but we’re on a month-to-month basis and I don’t want to piss him off. Suggestions? Thanks in advance.

Cut 6 inches off the top of the door? Put in a dehumidifier? Get one of those over-the-top stove vents and pipe it into the hallway?

Sorry. I got nothing.

The landlord knows about a health-threatening, not-to-code problem, and he is doing nothing; the way I see it, you have two choices - take him to court and go the distance with that, or move out. You already know that making any alterations on your own will not be approved and might cost you more in the long run (keeping your damage deposit, etc.). You could try a fan in the bathroom - open the door as soon as the shower is over and blow the moist air out, and keep bleaching it down regularly.

I’m pretty sure the code for bathrooms in Baltimore is the same as here - they must be vented in some way to prevent just this problem. As far as I know, old houses are grandfathered for code until you start messing with them; when your landlord messed with the bathroom, he was obligated to bring it up to modern code, which he obviously has not.

Here’s a small dehumidifier for less than $90.

Buy a really high capacity dehumidifier and stick it in the doorway of your bathroom when you’re through.

And bill him for it, and for the resultant increases in gas and electricity and heat.

As a dehumidifier is just an airconditioner, our heat bill more than doubled…

I don’t have a solution for you, but I know someone who shares your pain. I used to date someone who had a similar problem. I’m not quite sure how this works, but the mold got so bad that paint won’t stick to the walls. She has repainted several times, but it just peels off. I got really tired of walking on paint chips everytime I got out of the shower.

a dehumidifier exhausts the heat back into the room. Unless the laws of physics change, the loss of efficiency means it would heat the room slightly.

Put a window vent in and cover it when not in use. Plan B is to offer to revert the house back to original and have a full roof vent system put back in. Millions of homes have them and they don’t leak. This won’t be cheap which leads me to plan-c which is to piss the landlord off until he changes the currently acceptable rent to something that is not lower.

I have the tools and material to make things so that’s how I think. I you can’t reconsider leaving the door open, then you could construct a portable door that was open at the top and bottom. It could be a folding door or a rigid frame on wheels. You could find one of those accordion type doors like they use in mobile homes. Cut ventilation in the top and bottom.

Investigate a product called Concrobium that removes mold easily and promises to keep it from returning.

Does anyone know if a call to the city’s health department and/or the code enforcement people would do anything?

Why not report him to the building code office in the city? Complaints about lack of proper heating and mold are usually taken pretty seriously where I am.

Also, never sign a lease or renew unless you get it in writing, or hold out on renewing till he does it in the future :slight_smile:

I would move and then report the landlord. He might try to screw with you on the security deposit. You’ll win when its in court, but why not try to avoid the headache.

I’d be surprised if there isn’t a mold problem already, and I wouldn’t trust this guy to fix it right.

You could take the existing door off its hinges & store it. Buy a louvered door to install in its place, then re-install the original door when you eventually move.

Mold is something that should be taken seriously. Primarily because it can either shorten your life span by a large or small amount of time or out right kill you. It’s a gamble.

With that you have three choices;

  1. Get your landlord to fix it.

  2. Move out.

  3. Call the Health department and buckle down for a battle of wills.

I suspect from what you described your landlord is the lazy ass type like Larry from Three’s Company or whatever his name was.

That shit ain’t getting fixed unless you do it yourself.

Or post nasty reviews of him and call the health department/building inspections with fire code violations. They take those the most serious, IMO.

Only black mold is deadly dangerous. Other forms of mold (most of the ones you see in homes/apartments) are not lethal, though they are aggravating aesthetically and respiratorially. Just because you see mold, doesn’t mean it’s going to kill you.

I vote to report him to the health department in your city, then give him your 30 days’ notice and move. You’re on a month to month and if you make a big deal about anything, he’ll just tell you to get out in 30 days and wouldn’t need a reason to do so. You could sue him, but that would only make it better for the next guy at the expense of your own time and money. And even just small claims court is one of the biggest headaches imaginable. Getting a lawyer is even worse.

I do like the idea of taking the original door off and putting a temporary one on that would allow much better ventilation - that might help a lot.

if the bathroom was up to building code at its construction it might not be in violation now.

after a shower then place a fan (box fan on floor, pedestal fan higher or both) in the doorway exhausting air out of the bathroom. if too humid after that then run a dehumidifier.

You could get a tension rod curtain, then you don’t even have to take the door down. Just put that up in the doorway when someone is in the shower, with maybe a foot or so of space at the top, and leave the bathroom door open. It should be passable for a few weeks, you could try that and it it helps then you can think about something more permanent involving a different door.

The landlord probably blew that when he took the existing ventilation out - I am not sure about the laws in Baltimore, but my educated guess is that when you renovate, you are required to renovate up to current codes, not just take stuff out and leave it that way.