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Whose Mold Is It Anyway?

by Stuart Lieberman

You live in an apartment and it has a lot of mold. Good news? Bad news? News at all? The answer is all three.

It's good news if you are a mold hobbiest. What an opportunity. And if you can harvest the penicillin, so much the better.

It's bad news if you are one of the many people who react poorly to mold. Some of us just sneeze. Others can become pretty ill.

And in a way its no news at all. Because every room has some amount of mold. It's the large number of mold colonies, the out of control mold problem, that's really notable.

If you live in an apartment and you have what amounts to a mold infestation, do something about it.

Out of control mold is a likely result of chronic moisture, perhaps caused by leaking pipes, condensation, or a bad roof, coupled with a warm, dark space for mold nurturing. Bathrooms are prone to develop this problem, but any room can be a target.

Your landlord most likely has a duty to maintain your apartment in a liveable or "habitable" condition. Chronic mold, especially mold caused by faulty maintenance, may very well be a problem for which your landlord is legally responsible to cure.

How about a condominium? Often, the condominium association is responsible for the common areas, which may include roofing and exterior walls. In such case, the question becomes whether the mold growth is a result of water penetration from the roof or the exterior walls.

How about mold at the work place? While laws vary, and claims may be limited by workers compensation laws, an employer generally must provide employees with safe, healthy working conditions. One may perhaps successfully argue that allowing a mold garden to grow does not translate into a safe working climate.

Finally, how about mold in your own home? If you own the home, suing the owner may not be productive. But, consider whether the mold is in fact attributable to faulty repairs by a service company. If that is the case you may have something to talk about. If you just purchased the home and the mold condition was known and hidden by the prior owner, that too may provide for interesting conversation.

Ultimately, these issues are very fact sensitive. No two cases are the same. And state laws, as well as leases, condominium documents, and home sale agreements, all vary. All of this means that serious require professional review.

Every state requires legal action within a certain time period. This is called a statute of limitations. So if you must take legal action, do so before your case becomes old and moldy.

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