Condo Owner or HOA: Who Abates Toxic Mold?
With recent rains in California, three neighbors with units on both sides had water intrusion into both bedrooms of our ground floor two-unit condos. One brought it to the attention of the homeowners association when it occurred, in January. Since that time they have had numerous contractors inspect the property to find the source of the leak, and it is still not fixed. They were informed that I have toxic mold behind my walls.
The HOA is aware of the mold toxicity, as it chose the industrial hygienist to come and take samples of the mold to send for analysis. When I was informed that there was mold, which was early on in January, one tenant told the HOA that they felt that it is responsible not only for prompt repairs to the building, but to do the mold abatement as well since it was the leaky building that caused this. It has informed me that it has no intention of taking care of this. The HOA claims that even if there is “toxic mold,” it does not always release mycotoxins, therefore it is not necessary to repair. They have since now hired an attorney to represent them in this dispute.
All they want is to have this repaired so they can sell their unit, as they are moving in the near future. It is my impression that the HOA is entirely responsible for the mold abatement since it is its building that caused this.
Be sure to document and photograph all of these problems. Communicate these problems in writing to the HOA board members and insist on an acknowledgment that your letters have been received. Review your HOA bylaws and your master and unit insurance policy to determine coverage. Attend HOA board meetings, bring up this issue and get it on the record. Delaying a solution — which is often a characteristic of HOA boards — will hurt you the most, given the desire to sell the unit. It is a good idea to hire an attorney, but one can be in a Catch-22 position from the perspective of working with a HOA that is making decisions about legal, biological and insurance matters that it is unqualified to make.
This is unfortunate but often the case. Above all, monitor your health and any possible ill effects resulting from the mold.