Whether you’re juggling a handful of rental properties or thousands of multifamily apartments, COVID-19 has left you with vacancies — and we all know what vacant rental units can lead to rampant mold and mildew growth. 

To help you keep your vacant rental properties in perfect shape during the remainder of the pandemic — so they don’t become Petri dishes for mold and mildew — we’ve compiled this brief overview of how PointCentral’s property automation technology can help. But first, let’s take a quick look at the reasons behind the mold/mildew problem you could be running up against.

Why Vacancies Lead to Mold and Mildew

The pandemic has resulted in rampant vacancies around the United States. Office buildings, restaurants, hotels, apartments, and vacation rental units are sitting empty. This is because we have either been sheltering in place at home, and not traveling, staying in hotels, reserving vacation rentals, or using Airbnbs. Office buildings and commercial units are also sitting empty due to business shutdowns from worsening economic conditions caused by COVID-19. 

According to the CDC, real estate vacancies resulting from COVID-19 are a health concern — not because of the virus — but because vacant buildings grow mold:

“Mold will grow on building materials where there is moisture, produced from leaks or condensation from roofs, windows, or pipes, or from a flood. Mold can grow on a variety of surfaces, such as ceiling tiles, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, and fabric.”

Sometimes these conditions lead to the most dangerous type of mold — Legionella pneumophila — which causes the deadly Legionnaires’ disease

According to Greg Bukowski, CEO of the mold removal business Moldman USA, “homes that have been unoccupied for months have a high likelihood of having water-intrusion issues and subsequent mold issues.” While leaks are one cause of this water intrusion and moisture intrusion, the most common cause is high humidity. 

Without people occupying offices and rental units, air conditioners stay off — which means that humidity doesn’t get cycled out of the units. On top of that, the high temperature in unairconditioned units combines with the humidity to become a breeding ground for mold. After a few weeks or months, you’ll open an unoccupied space and encounter the musty smell of mold and mildew. By this time, it’s too late. You’ll need to spend thousands of dollars on mold removal services to repair the units and get them ready for renters. 

How PointCentral Prevents Mold and Mildew in Vacant Units

Considering the high cost of correcting mold damage, property managers need to do everything they can to prevent this serious problem from developing in their vacant units. The CDC recommends the following

“Maintain indoor humidity as low as possible, not exceeding 50%, as measured with a humidity meter. Building managers may consider continuous monitoring of indoor humidity using a digital hygrometer, ideally more than once daily, to minimize the need to access the building.”

Following a similar vein, PointCentral’s property automation technologies allow you to remotely monitor and control humidity levels to keep them below 50% in your apartment units. Whether you’re dealing with a handful of units or thousands, you can use your PointCentral system to remotely check humidity and temperature levels in your units, monitor for water leaks, and adjust thermostat temperatures — all without setting foot in the unit itself. By eliminating the need to physically enter units, PointCentral saves a lot of time and employment hours; it also helps you keep track of all units without any falling through the cracks.

PointCentral uses the following devices to make this possible:

  • Humidity sensors: PointCentral uses Alarm.com smart thermostats which include sensors that monitor humidity. These sensors can trigger the HVAC systems to activate to cool when vacant in a way that is both economically efficient and keeps them cool and dry enough to prevent mold. 
  • Minimum/maximum temperature settings: PointCentral Alarm.com smart thermostats also offer minimum and maximum temperature settings to ensure that when a unit is vacant the HVAC system will maintain a safe temperature range to prevent mold.
  • Water sensors: PointCentral systems can include water alarm sensors installed under sinks and in other sensitive areas to detect leaks in vacant rental units so that you can repair them as soon as they arise and before mold damage appears. 
  • Smart water valves: PointCentral systems can also include Alarm.com smart water valves, which automatically shut off the water supply to a unit in the event that a leak is detected.

Learn More About Automated Mold and Mildew Prevention Now

With a PointCentral smart property automation system, you can monitor and control humidity, temperature, and water intrusion for all of your properties under management — all from a single internet-connected smart device, no matter where you happen to be. This allows you to minimize travel time because you can bypass the need to physically enter vacant units by remotely adjusting thermostat settings and check for leaks without setting foot in the property itself.

Want to learn more about how PointCentral can keep your vacant units safe and mold-free during the COVID-19 pandemic? Contact the PointCentral team for a free demo of our products and technologies now!