Mold and mildew can be a serious health hazard in homes. I represented a gentleman when I was still practicing real estate law about 13 years ago who purchased a home in Sequim that was full of high levels of mold and mildew. He sued the seller for misrepresenting the condition of the home. While this kind of litigation often results in huge judgments in California and Texas and elsewhere, in Washington judges didn’t know what standard to use to make their decisions, because no standard has been established. What standards of mold levels identify health endangering levels is difficult, especially because mold effects each person differently.
Mold in Sequim Homes?
The Plaintiff purchased his home and moved in. He was a bachelor, but would have friends come over to play cards and his granddaughter would come to visit. Coughing, sneezing, runny noses and itchy eyes triggered questions by the Plaintiff until he decided to hire an expert from the Seattle area to take samples and get lab results. The expert’s testimony at court was that after 14 years of doing this kind of testing in Washington, this home rated in the 97th percentile of the most polluted homes in the State.
Sequim Buyer Discovers Mold
The Sellers had made changes to the heating and circulation system that were not according to design and installation specifications. The crawl space acted as the plenum for the forced air, but the design called for a concrete floor, but the Sellers only used visqueen on the dirt ground. The mold built up throughout the house to very high levels, which would have required very expensive cleaning and replacement to make it inhabitable. The Sellers had not disclosed this to the Buyer and so it was misrepresentation and fraud.
The judge granted judgment in favor of the Defendant Sellers based on his decision that every human being is different, and that there are no medical standards that define what is unacceptable or dangerous. After the judgment, the Seller had a problem: he had to sell the house and disclose the mold problem, but who would want to buy it then?
Mold in Older Homes
If you’re buying an older home, or even a home that is only a few years old, due diligence in hiring the right professionals to put you on notice of health hazards is obviously very important. Wisdom would dictate that you have the right contingency language in your offer that gives you the right to have a professional inspect the house before you buy it. Does your real estate agent have the depth of knowledge and experience to protect you from mold in your Sequim home?
Last Updated on September 19, 2019 by Chuck Marunde