Jordon Scrinko
Published by Jordon Scrinko
Last Updated On: May 19, 2024

Mold in Condo? (Find Out Who Is Responsible)

Due to water damage, excessive moisture levels, or spore contamination, condominium building managers and property owners face a significant mold problem.

For instance, the presence of mold poses risks on several fronts, including compromising the health of your tenants, tarnishing your brand, and exposing you to costly mold cleanup expenses. 

Who is responsible for addressing mold damage? Does the obligation fall on the unit owners, or is it the duty of the condominium corporation? 

Mold issues within a Homeowners Association (HOA) can lead to complex discussions regarding accountability.

This article aims to clarify who is liable when dealing with mold in a condo setting.


Quick Summary

  • Mold can negatively affect a condo’s resale value. Buyers are often wary of properties with a history of mold, even if the issue has been resolved.
  • Mold exposure can cause significant health problems, especially for individuals with asthma, allergies, or weakened immune systems. Ensuring a mold-free environment is critical for the well-being of residents.
  • Mold-related claims account for approximately 10% of all condo insurance claims in Canada, highlighting the significance of the issue.
  • From my experience, early detection of mold is crucial in preventing extensive damage and higher remediation costs. Regular inspections and maintenance can help identify mold issues before they escalate.

Who Is Responsible For Mold Issues In Condos?

Individuals responsible for an HOA mold problem, such as property managers, HOA board members, and unit owners, are often caught off guard. When molds grow inside the home, there may be a health concern, as they release chemicals and spores.

Mold issues can linger undetected for extended periods, usually identified only by visual cues or distinctive odors. Mold challenges within homeowners associations (HOAs) can escalate into significant disputes, potentially culminating in legal actions against the HOA.

Condominium corporations must maintain and repair the common elements. In contrast, the majority of condominium organizations’ declarations mandate that owners manage their units.

They want them to fix and address any problem that presents a harmful situation to the inhabitants, property, and assets of the company. The issue in question is a serious mold problem in a unit. It originally appeared in 2009 but was only remediated in 2018.

One unit owner argued in court that the mold formed with difficulties linked to common elements, like issues with the exterior windows, the heating system inside the common elements ceiling, and ventilation systems.

Also, the condominium corporation contended in the court that the mold was due to lifestyle choices the owner made, like not properly operating the heating system and placing weather stripping on the entry door, which hindered appropriate ventilation.

After examining competing expert findings, Judge Nakatsuru favored the unit owner. He thought that the mold was generated by causes related to the building’s construction.

The judge ruled that the condominium corporation failed in its duties to restore and maintain the common elements. As a consequence, the court deemed the condominium corporation accountable for covering the mold damage repair cost.

The unit owner further claimed that she was obligated to cover the costs of the damages due to the oppressive remedy provided for in Section 135 of the 1998 Condominium Act [1]. The court denied this plea for relief.

For an oppression remedy to be effective, it must be demonstrated that the condominium corporation acted with unfair prejudice, did any oppressive conduct, or unfairly disregarded pertinent interests.

Identifying Mold Issues In Condos

Mold is a widespread outdoor fungus, especially in moist environments such as woods [2]. Mold performs a vital function in decomposing decaying organic waste. However, mold spores may invade our residences, workplaces, and stores. Mold often grows in wet and moist environments, such as:

  • basements
  • kitchens
  • bathrooms
  • other places with high moisture levels

Alternaria, Fusarium, Memnoniella, Aspergillus, and Trichoderma are some common types of mold found in indoor environments.

Mold may develop on:

  • drywall
  • ceiling
  • tiles (encompassing floor, bathtub/shower, and walls)
  • curtains
  • carpets

It’s a major problem for various reasons. A mold issue is directly linked to a range of health risks, including respiratory difficulties and skin and eye irritation.


Destructive Nature of Mold Diseases

Mold infestations are not just unsightly; they’re structurally devastating. The infiltration of mold into critical areas like drywall and tiles ups the ante for further water damage and subsequent mold growth.

In severe cases, a rampant mold problem can necessitate extensive and expensive reconstruction efforts, which underscores the importance of either preventing or detecting mold early on.

 


Impact on Condominium Livability and Reputation

Mold’s repercussions extend beyond physical damage to properties. A mold outbreak can drive tenants away, diminishing occupancy rates and, by extension, revenue.

Furthermore, mold can tarnish a building’s reputation, making it less attractive to potential homebuyers and renters and potentially depressing property values.

These challenges require condominium management, unit owners, and occupants to deal with or control mold, preferably before a mold breakout.

Even though building management is accountable for specific areas, like ensuring that the plumbing is at no risk of leaks, drying common areas like the gym or swimming pool change rooms), and controlling moisture where they have control, each residential unit is also responsible for its maintenance.

Frequent showering, cooking, cleaning, and other everyday activities might cause increased moisture and water damage. If residents neglect to eliminate moisture (by employing exhaust fans) or maintain dry spaces, their apartments will be more susceptible to mold growth.

If uncontrolled, mold might spread to the building’s structure and other units. Hence, homeowners must take responsibility for maintaining their units and determining if there are any traces of mold growth.


Next Steps After Detecting Mold Problem

Upon the detection of mold in your condominium, it’s imperative to take action swiftly to mitigate the potential health and structural hazards. The process of addressing a mold issue involves several critical steps:

  • Reach out to a certified environmental contractor specializing in mold remediation.
  • Arrange for a thorough inspection of the affected area to determine the extent of the mold problem.
  • Follow the contractor’s recommendations for safely and effectively removing the mold.
  • Ensure that all mold-contaminated materials are disposed of according to safety regulations.
  • After mold removal, take measures to prevent future mold growth by addressing the source of moisture.

Yet, your mold management strategy must ideally begin with preventative steps, such as maintaining low moisture levels in your condo and keeping sensitive areas dry.

It would be good to insure your condominium with specified coverage for mold damage and mold remediation. 

Building managers can make the error of purchasing a comprehensive insurance policy without examining the type of coverage provided. Hence, check and review the insurance you are purchasing.


Effective Mold Prevention and Remediation Strategies

The Condominium Act requires condominium corporations to repair and maintain the shared parts. They must also undertake thorough inquiries into issues and have maintenance obligations.

Yet, you can’t expect perfection from condominium associations. Especially when the matter is a complex issue, a unit owner can only sometimes anticipate a condominium corporation to resolve a problem promptly.

Time may be necessary to investigate and build a cost-effective and efficient response plan.

The violation of a condominium corporation’s responsibility to repair does not inevitably entitle a unit owner to damages under the oppression remedy. The oppression remedy intends to follow severe and burdensome conduct.

For more condo articles & listings in Canada, visit Precondo.

References:

  1. https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/98c19
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/indoorenv/whatismold.html

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