Mold in Luxury Vacation Rental Home

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Jun 24, 2019
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#1
My family and I leased a home, via an owner on VRBO, in Longboat Key, Fl. We arrived Saturday and will be here a month. The owners seemed great to work with, and the home is beautiful—but soon after arriving we noticed mold in most of the upstairs air conditioning vents. The home was also very warm and humid, and smelled damp and mildewy. I attempted to contact home management company and home owner-no response. On Sunday, I did reach management company, who argued with me that her cleaning company would have noticed mold. I sent detailed pics and a video. By this point, she was still arguing with me. I asked for air to be turned down, as moldiest vent has water drilling and humidity levels read over 70%, and house was just hot. She said that she contacted owner and this would be taken care of via an app; owner said this was untrue and had to be done in person by ac company. Manager said she’d send cleaner to “wipe up crud”. I requested someone trained in mold remediation. Today, I get an email that I need to wait around all day to let a/c company in, that I will also need to let mold company in on Tues., and that she cancelled cleaning of vents “at my request.” Neither she or owner answer messages or request for urgent and proper cleaning.My husband is on hospice-late stage early onset dementia. An upper respiratory infection could really harm him. My daughter has asthma. I paid $8000 for the month so cannot just leave. What should I do???
 
May 1, 2018
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#2
Have you contacted VRBO? That seems like the logical first step to me. The whole point of booking a vacation rental through a 3rd party like VRBO is so you have someone to turn to when stuff hits the fan - so make use of it!
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#3
Does the air conditioning work? Many air-conditioned homes in the tropical areas smell like mold when the AC has been off. Turning on the AC usually removes the odor.

You can leave the property open and have the service people let themselves in. Present that to the owner. If the owner wants to have the property secured they (or their designee) can wait at the property for the service people.

You have hopefully already called and emailed VRBO. If you have not done so you risk having VRBO refuse to help you.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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Yes, I did. The home, listed and found on VRBO, but owner provided his own contract and I paid directly to him rather than going through the website. So, they cannot help, although they indicated their hands are tied as each owner has their own contract terms, anyway. What I’m seeking advice on, really, is mold and tenant laws-when it comes to short term leases. I do have insurance via Travel Guard. After speaking w them, it sounds like I could file a claim under owner negligence in providing a healthy and safe guest environment—but I really don’t want to leave. This is our “last” family trip, and going home would break my kids’ hearts. I would like to know what to do or say to get owner to clean his mold appropriately and quickly.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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Does the air conditioning work? Many air-conditioned homes in the tropical areas smell like mold when the AC has been off. Turning on the AC usually removes the odor.

You can leave the property open and have the service people let themselves in. Present that to the owner. If the owner wants to have the property secured they (or their designee) can wait at the property for the service people.

You have hopefully already called and emailed VRBO. If you have not done so you risk having VRBO refuse to help you.
Yes air is working, but owner locks it at 74 and humidity is at 70%, so everything is very damp and some vents are dripping. Definitely agree that is part of issue.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#7
Unfortunately by paying outside VRBO you have shut yourself out of anyone helping you. And because of this, we ca t help you either as our advise is to go up the executive chain at VRBO. But you can’t because you didn’t follow their rules.

Try turning the humidistat all the way on. Our a/c in our Florida home wasn’t working when we first moved in because we didn’t know we had to turn the humidistat to the on position.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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#11
Now that I reread the post, it appears she found the homeowner on VRBO but did not utilize the platform to complete the booking, no?
This is correct. I asked to book via VRBO as I have countless times in the past, submitted booking request, had a “booking number,” but then he sent me a personal contract, saying this was his preferred method. Has all 5 star reviews, and so I went with it. Mistake, I realize.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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Unfortunately by paying outside VRBO you have shut yourself out of anyone helping you. And because of this, we ca t help you either as our advise is to go up the executive chain at VRBO. But you can’t because you didn’t follow their rules.

Try turning the humidistat all the way on. Our a/c in our Florida home wasn’t working when we first moved in because we didn’t know we had to turn the humidistat to the on position.
Ok, thanks. I didn’t realize this shut me out from “anyone” helping me, as I still have a valid short term, 30 day lease, and there are laws regarding tenants and healthy conditions. Thank you anyway.
 
Feb 12, 2019
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#14
I think what they mean is that you're on your own to figure it out since outside of VRBO means they're not involved. If there's nothing addressing this in your lease, you'll have to check the tenet laws for the state/city the rental is in. It'll likely still be best to keep trying to work it out with the owner - it sucks but your greatest option of getting it fixed might be waiting at the house for the workers to show.
 

Carrie Livingston

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Jan 6, 2015
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#15
There may be posters who visit these forums who may have additional options for you so don't please feel that all is lost. I know you now realize you should have trusted your instincts in this case for exactly this reason. I wish you better luck in the future.
 
Likes: jsn55
Dec 19, 2014
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#16
Couple of comments....
1) The home is in a high humidity environment. Unfortunately, most homes in high humidity environments will have some mold. It is unlikely to be 100% mold free.
2) It sounds like the issue is with the air conditioning unit. Possible explanations include an insufficient A/C unit installed for the square footage of the house, or the A/C unit is failing. Decreasing the temperature MAY have the undesired effect of causing the unit to freeze or seize, and that may be why the A/C has a minimum temperature threshold of 74 degrees.
3) Is the home uninhabitable? Yes, mold can exacerbate asthma and allergens, but is it? If so, you may need to move out for 1-2 nights to allow the owner to rectify the situation. Since you are renting the home for 1 month, it really is in your best interest to allow 2 days to rectify the situation. If you were staying only 3 nights, then my opinion would be different.
4) I do not know Florida law regarding short term stay vs being a tenent. Perhaps someone else does. Since you are staying 1 month, it is possible you may have some legal rights.

Again, since you are staying 3+ additional weeks, I would invest the time to try and fix this problem tomorrow.
 
Apr 8, 2019
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#19
Your health is very important. Longboat Key straddles 2 counties (Sarasota and Manatee). If the owner does not adequately respond to your request you may want to contact the proper county official Board of Health. Manatee county # is 941-748-0747 (24 Hours/Day) and Sarasota county is 941-861-2900.
 
Likes: jsn55

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#20
I hope you will work with the owner and/or management company to get this all fixed. If the management company will not supervise the work, it will take some effort on your part to be present when the technicians come to work on the system. If the situation is not resolved by the experts, I would definitely call the Department of Health. Thirty days is a long time to be exposed to mold, so it's important you get this straightened out.