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What to Do if Your New House Has Toxic Mold

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Published in Toxic Mold on April 11, 2017.

You’ve finally done it. Your offer was accepted and an inspection revealed your home was in good shape. After months of waiting and negotiating, you finally have the keys to your new home. Unfortunately, after a few days, you notice a telltale musty odor. Could you have toxic mold infesting your new home? Is your family safe? Can you hold someone responsible? Learn your next steps if your home has toxic mold.

What Is Toxic Mold?

Mold is a form of fungus that grows both indoors and out. It thrives in areas that are warm, damp, and humid – in a home, it’s most commonly found in bathrooms. There are thousands of different types of mold, and most aren’t harmful to your health. Mold buildup only becomes a health concern in extremely high concentrations of certain types – the so-called “toxic molds.”

Mold is problematic in homes because it can grow out of control without many warning signs. Mold is also able to survive harsh temperature extremes and grows wherever there is moisture, making it a difficult problem to solve.

The term “toxic mold,” however can be somewhat misleading. It’s led to an understandable amount of panic for homeowners, who worry about the health and safety of their families. It’s important to realize there are only a few types of toxigenic molds, and these may cause potentially serious health consequences if inhaled in large concentrations, over a long period of time.

Types of Toxic Mold

The first type of toxic mold is called S. chartarum, or “black mold.” This tarry, greenish-black fungus is most commonly found in flood-damaged buildings

The other type of mold capable of producing toxins is Aspergillus, but only certain strands are mycotoxins. It’s easily distinguishable by its grey, fuzzy appearance.

Toxigenic mold can lead to respiratory problems and cold-like symptoms, especially in children, pregnant women, and those with depressed immune systems.

Who’s Responsible for the Mold in My Home?

If you discover toxic mold in your home, you may be feeling an understandable amount of distress. If you faithfully completed a pre-purchase inspection, you may be wondering if you have a claim against the inspection company. The short answer is, any number of people may be responsible for the mold in your home. Let’s look at some of the options.

  • The inspection company. If their contract specified that they would check for mold, they may have committed negligence, as well as breach of contract. If this is the case, you may have legal grounds for a claim. If they did not specify that they would check for mold, they did not commit negligence.
  • The owner. If an owner knows about the presence of mold (or any other home hazard), they are legally bound to disclose to any buyer. In this case, they would be responsible, as they failed to disclose the presence of a known defect.
  • If your home is a new construction, you may have mold because of negligence on the part of the supplier, contractor, or subcontractors.

Do I Have Legal Grounds for a Suit?

If you have a pervasive mold issue in your home, you may be able to file a civil action against any of the parties listed above. A personal injury attorney will help you find the responsible parties and demand recourse for their negligence.

Keep in mind, however, that in some cases you don’t have any legal recourse. When you purchase a home, you sign documents stating you accept the home’s condition (generally after the inspection). Unless a home inspector breached their contract, you may have to remove the mold out at your own expense. This also applies to certain home purchases, such as foreclosures and short sales, where you agree to purchase a home “as-is.” If you have any other questions, consult an attorney.

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