Mold Legal Guide
as an in depth introduction to both
sides of the key mold legal issues
and of the essential claims and defenses
in mold lawsuits.
Please also read:
[Realtor Disclosure] [Tucson-Arizona-Realtor-Q&A]
Q. Can you help me evaluate the attached mold results? Is it
indicative that there is a problem that needs to be addressed? This mold
inspection is of a house I have listed for sale. Thanks---Virginia real
Thank you for asking for my comments on the mold report about the house
involved in your real estate for sale listing. The mold test results showed
higher mold counts of several dangerous molds indoors than the outdoor
control test. Such a finding is prima facie evidence of a significant inside
the home mold growth problem. The basement mold test discovered 1 Chaetomium
mold spore, whereas there were none in the control sampling; 28 Cladosporium
spores, whereas there were only 11 outdoors; Penicillium/Aspergillus 109
mold spores, compared to only 12 outdoors. The bedroom mold test showed 34
Cladosporium mold spores compared to only 11 outdoors. All three molds in
elevated levels indoors are highly dangerous to resident health. The mold
test results are especially alarming because they were collected from by
collecting brief timed air samples for mold lab analysis. Air sampling
almost always UNDERSTATES the true extent of mold levels in a home. Much
more reliable are carpet samplings and direct samplings of seldom cleaned
areas like the wood trim above windows and doorways and above kitchen
cabinets, because mold spores over a period of time will have landed or been
deposited in such areas. People live in homes for many hours per day. Doing
an air test for just a few minutes really minimizes the true mold risk of
living in a tested building. In addition, the following inspector
observations document really serious and likely mold problems---"Visual
Inspection---Elevated moisture in building materials at levels sufficient to
support mold growth, Visible mold in attic area, Seepage through foundation
block wall in crawlspace, MVOC musty odors noted in closet and workshop on
basement level." Water intrusion into a crawl space drives big time mold
growth therein, and from the crawl space, mold can grow upwards into the
floors and walls above the crawl space. The next homeowner step should be to
have the cavities of the floors, walls, and ceiling, plus the
heating/cooling equipment and ducts inspected and test for
mold growth. The inspector's mold remediation proposal is not realistic
because the true extent of the area to be mold remediated and therefore mold
remediation requirements are likely to be much bigger than included in the
remediation proposal. There can be no realistic mold remediation proposal
until the home has been thoroughly mold inspected, including inside wall,
ceiling, and floor cavities and inside the heating/cooling equipment and
ducts. If I may be of further service, please email me. Thanks, Phillip
consultant, Certified Environmental Hygienist,
Mold Inspector, and Certified Mold Remediator.
Health board hears about mold house
but too late to help
June 11, 2004 - PEPPERELL
FREE PRESS -- "How come you didn't come to us first?" Board of Health member
Robert Lambert asked Nancy Davis, former Shawnee Road resident whose family
was forced to abandon their mold-infested home late last year.
Davis, who has a pending lawsuit against both real estate brokers and a
home inspector involved in the original sale of the property, said that had
she done so and the health board condemned the property, her family would
have had no place to go.
"Once we found stachybotris [mold] we had to leave and had no place to
go," Davis said.
The conversation took place last week in the first presentation of the
Davis family's troubles in a public meeting even though the family has been
fighting a well-documented legal battle for more than a year. Chairman
Conrad Eaton was not present.
It was, however, too late for local officials to be of help. Health Agent
Ed Wirtanen explained that the health board could not condemn the property
unless the Davises lived in the house and that any action taken would have
to be against the Davises.
Lambert said the board would like to view the property and hear Davis'
story first hand because it had only heard and seen what has been reported
by the press.
Davis reiterated mold troubles that began after purchase of the 20
Shawnee Road duplex for $249,000 on October 30, 2002. An energy audit
discovered "the worst case of mold they'd ever seen," and a remediation
company discovered "catastrophic roof failure," Davis said.
"He said we could remove the roof and peel the house like a banana for
$26,000 to get rid of the mold," Davis said. "We have no money, so we
started a lawsuit.
"A structural problem was checked and we found the previous owner did not
have proper permits," she said. "I can't say too much because of the suit
but I feel the responsibility should be on the previous owner."
The Davises' homeowner insurance was permanently canceled, Nancy became
seriously ill, and townspeople raised money to relocate the family. They
haven't made mortgage payments since, are acquiring $10,000 worth of
penalties every three months, their cars were totaled because of mold
growth, and recently their credit card limits were lowered and interest
raised to 20 percent.
Davis told the board the house was to be auctioned off but it was
postponed "at the 11th hour" when the auctioneer saw the Davises removing
their belongings clad in hazardous material suits. Nancy Davis said attorney
April Babbitt (who represents the family in foreclosure proceedings) told
her that the bank would be "open to a lawsuit like you've never seen" if it
tries to auction the property knowing its condition.
"The inspector didn't find anything [wrong]?" Lambert asked.
Davis said the inspector listed the roof as "less than satisfactory" and
that she should check with the former owner. "Through the realtors, the
answer came back 'you have a good, solid roof' and good luck," Davis said.
Wirtanen said the board will "definitely" do some research. He said
indoor air quality requirements are being looked at statewide under Chapter
2 so at least "something is happening on the horizon."
Lambert said the board does not want to take action against Davis. "If
you were living in [the house] we could condemn it," he said.
Davis said she wants to work with the town. "There has to be a law. A
person can go bankrupt and run from things like this, or they can fight. I
chose to fight. Is there a chain of command I should follow?" she asked.
Health board member Holly Bradman called Davis a "one-woman powerhouse"
who has raised awareness.
"A friend called me and said that now they are being insured for mold.
That could be your blessing, but without you living [in the house], there is
nothing we can do. Had you come to us earlier we could have been involved,"
She suggested Davis might speak with Rep. Bob Hargraves. The health
board, meanwhile, will maintain a disclosure file. "My heart goes out to
you," Bradman said. Lambert added, "Everyone in town."
Asked about local contractors and State Line Lumber, who volunteered to
help rebuild the house last year, Davis said, "I don't know."