Legal Question in Real Estate Law in Florida

After the purchase of my home recently, my wife and I discovered when we pulled up the floor tiles that the floor underneath it was wet. We then decided to look into the walls to see if therew as any mold present; there was and is. The more we look, the more we find mold on the inside of one wall and then the next.

On the home sale closing documents the ‘mold disclosure’ form is crossed off with a line drawn through it, with the seller claiming no knowledge of any mold, because as she says, she did not live in the home but only rented it out. Is that simply an easy out for every landlord who wants to pull the wool over a buyers eyes?

When my wife and I pulled two large 5 foot wide x 8 foot tall mirrors off of the bedroom wall, we found mold behind each of them, while the 4 foot span of space in between them was cleanly painted, which indicates that the mold was wiped clean on the section of wall between the mirrors, and fresh paint was applied. This implies a cover up because the.mold did not start and stop at the mirror edges.

In that same room, as we started to open up more walls, we found more mold on the inside of the wall of the master bathroom, and with one side of the wall now opened to expose the water pipes, we can clearly see that the drywall had been replaced in just the area where the new vanity rests, with no mold whatsoever present on that section of wallboard. However, there is heavy black mold on each side of the new section of drywall that the vanity is mounted to. As for the reason for the new vanity and section of drywall, what likely caused the need for this addition; you can clearly see torch (burn) marks where someone had re-soldered the water lines feeding the vanity and toilet, indicating that the old water line had sprung a leak.

Considering that the master bathroom vanity had been replaced, that the wallboard that the vanity is resting against is new with mold on either side of it, but having no mold on itself. Considering that the floor beneath the ceramic tiles was still wet and mold is growing in the interior wall cavities in every wall in the master bedroom, indicating that it was a severe and/or long term leak. Someone was well aware that there was water damage, and mold intrusion. Either the seller themselves took care to conceal the mold presence, or they hired a contractor to clean up the mess, she had to be aprised of this mold.

Is there more to this moldy story? Yes. My wife was out in the yard doing yard work when the 95 year old lady next door came up and introduced herself. In the course of their conversation, the old lady mentioned that the previous owner once had no storm gutters and that she’d tried to warn the previous owner that water could get into her house from the roof. The old lady then said that that’s exactly what happened and water came in and flooded her kitchen, requiring the old flooring to be removed and she said of course the place was all moldy. But even after that incident, the previous owner still didn’t get gutters the old lady said. And what happened next was still another drenching of the kitchen floor from rain water and mold once again appeared and once again the flooring had to be removed and replaced. The neighbor said that the previous owner eventually put up gutters, which we can see. The old lady volunteered this information and didn’t bring it up to my wife about the mold problems because my wife had mentioned it, because my wife never mentioned a word about mold and in fact the old lady still doesn’t know that we’re having mold issues.

So with all that going on in that house, there’s just no way I can believe that the seller was unaware of mold problems, because clearly someone cleaned the mold off of the painted walls in between those two large mirrors in the master bedroom and then repainted walls to make everything look new. It’s just as clear that at some point a water leak began on the inside of the walls of the master bathroom which is located within the master bedroom, and that someone removed the old vanity, resoldered the water pipes, and after cutting out a moldy section of drywall from the wall, a new piece of drywall was installed and the new vanity attached to that new drywall, and the walls closed up, concealing the untreated mold that was growing inside.

I bought the house ‘as is’ – as many homes are listed nowadays, and I figured that if the house had some issues they were on me. But I didn’t count on deliberate deception or a coverup of potentially deadly health issues. To me this was fraudulent, and claiming they didn’t know is beyond acceptibility since so much work was done to conceal the water intrusion problems with the bedroom and the kitchen. I didn’t have a home inspection, aside from a termite inspection and I also had a plumber look at the pipes to ensure that the house didn’t have poly-butylene. Quite honestly, I don’t know that a home inspector would’ve found a mold issue when everything was dressed up to look like new, complete with painted chair rails.

So what do you think I should speak to a lawyer to try to get them to fix it?

Asked on 9/28/13, 2:53 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Barry Stein De Cardenas, Freixas, Stein & Zachary

yes you should consult an attorney. you should have also had inspections done before you purchased which would have revealed these issues and you could have made a better and more informed decision about whether the purchase was a good idea or not .you should have had an attorney representing you throughout the closing process.

Read more
Answered on 9/28/13, 7:43 am

Related Questions & Answers

More Real Estate and Real Property questions and answers in Florida