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Mold in Your Home: Were the Previous Owners Hiding Something?

Imagine you purchased a home one or two years ago. You searched long and hard, testing your options, watching the market and waiting for the right moment. Finally, you found a house that seemed to meet all your needs and goals. Sure, there were a few compromises. But overall, you’re happy with the deal you were able to negotiate. Things have been going along fairly smoothly and you’re enjoying life in your new home.

Then you notice mold growing in the basement, or in a certain spot behind the walls in the bathroom; or under the floor in the kitchen. You’re somewhat concerned about how extensive the problem could be, since you’ve heard about the adverse effects of toxic mold exposure. You’ve also heard that mold infestations can be much worse than just what’s visible with the naked eye.

So you call in a mold remediation specialist, who arrived on site and makes a detailed mold assessment using special equipment, including infrared cameras. After an hour or two, your specialist delivers the troublesome news.

You’ve got a significant mold problem on your hands.

How could this have happened? How could you have prevented it? Is there any way to hold the previous owners accountable, or is this just the luck of the draw?

Unfortunately, the answer may not be as cut and dry as you might have hoped. The good news is, there are laws in many states that require sellers and real estate agents to disclose prior mold infestations; and if it comes to light that such documentation was not shared or disclosed, the buyer may have grounds for legal action. It would be very important to use all available options, since you as the current owner will have “inherited” the situation; and if you ever decide to sell, you will be required to provide documentation of the very mold problems that were withheld from you. What’s more, it’s been proven that homes with documented mold problems take a hit in terms of market value and overall market appeal.

You may find that you have no legal options; and it could also be that mold has only recently become a problem in your home. If this is the case, follow the advice of a reputable mold inspector. Keep in mind that the decisions you make now could affect your home’s legacy for a long time, even after the offending mold problem has been taken care of. Once the cleanup efforts are complete, a renewed vigilance with regard to mold prevention will keep the problem from resurfacing in the future.

Focus on mold prevention

Every mold specialist agrees that prevention is the most important part of dealing with mold, whether it’s a home or business. You can hire the most skilled and reputable mold remediation specialist out there, and the cleanup effort can be carried out to a very high professional standard — but if you haven’t made an effort to understanding the underlying causes of mold, and step up your prevention game, you might find yourself in the same situation again.