Mold: Must a seller disclose?
The family of Lisa Lusk moved out of a house in Roanoke to a house in Roanoke County because the former appeared to be ridden with mold, and the projected costs for remediation totaled tens of thousands of dollars.
Would a real estate professional be obligated to disclose the possible mold problem to a prospective buyer?
Former U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld might say it depends on the “known knowns.”
Virginia law* requires real estate licensees to disclose in writing “all material adverse facts” about the physical condition of the property that are actually known by the licensee, according to Mary Broz-Vaughan, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.
The Virginia Association of Realtors provided a statement: “If the listing agent has actual knowledge that there is a mold condition affecting the property for sale that has not been remediated by a qualified professional she must disclose the condition to prospective buyers and their agents.”
The VAR said that if the mold and the moisture problem that created it return after multiple remediations in the course of a month, then the mold problem likely presents “an ongoing material adverse fact” that must be disclosed.
Claude McGavic, executive director of the National Association of Home Inspectors, noted that some states require that mold inspectors be certified or licensed. In those states, a home inspector lacking mandated credentials likely will be reluctant to identify mold in a building, he said.
McGavic said he has handled similar circumstances by reporting to a client that he spotted something that looked like it could be mold.
Source: Duncan Adams for American Society of Home Inspectors (originally posted in The Roanoke Times)
* About Massachusetts law: Private, individual sellers of residential properties in Massachusetts DO NOT have to voluntarily disclose defects like mold infestation, termites or water leaks.
Massachusetts law places a higher burden on real estate professionals, agents and brokers than it does on other citizens. Chapter 93A of Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act REQUIRES such professionals to voluntarily disclose any fact that may influence the buyer not to purchase the agreement.
For example, if a seller tells his or her real estate agent that there is a water leak on the property that has potentially caused mold growth, the real estate agent HAS TO REVEAL this information to potential buyers.
Buyers who learn that real estate professionals violated this duty to disclose and the buyer wound up purchasing the property can file a Chapter 93A claim against the real estate professional. The buyer can receive damages for his or her actual losses, as well as punitive damages that are double or triple the amount of actual losses. The real estate professional may also be ordered to pay the buyer’s attorney fees and legal costs.
Please contact RJ Home Inspection to schedule a professional home inspection for your home or business: 800-253-4402 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact Aspen Environmental Services for mold testing and removal at (978) 681-5023. Or email email@example.com. Aspen professionals are licensed and insured and members of the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI) and the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). www.aspenenvironmentalservices.com