Mold Next Door

(WSVN) - You have heard many stories about renters who have mold and can’t get rid of it, but what if you live in a townhouse or condo, and your neighbor has mold and won’t do anything about it? Do you have to wait for it to spread to your home to fight back? The answer is in tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

One reason people like to buy a townhouse is that you have more privacy than a condo, and it’s not as expensive as a single family home.

Steve Bailey: “This is my first home, so I take a lot a pride in my home. I’m passionate about it.”

Of course, with a townhouse, you share at least one wall with your neighbor. Steve shares two.

Steve Bailey: “We are adjacent to two units. I have one on the left, one on the right. I’m the middle unit.”

Steve Bailey
Steve Bailey

The neighbors on his left are a nice family. The unit on the right? Not so nice.

Steve Bailey: “When you look at the front of his unit, all you see is mold covering the windows. You see visible damage to the wood structure outside, you see spider webs, cobwebs.”

The unit was a rental that’s been empty for over a year.

Steve Bailey: “I’ve never met the owner. I have no idea who owns the place.”

And Steve says no one is taking good care of the property.

Steve Bailey: “My biggest concern is, this mold can spread. We have shared walls, shared attic space, so the mold and termites can definitely spread. I know eventually I will receive damage from this.”

This is the downside to a townhouse: If there is mold on one side of the wall, it will soon be on the other side.

Steve Bailey: “And that will affect the integrity of my unit, the health of my wife, my pets and myself, which, to me, is my biggest concern.”

Give Steve credit. He has tried to get someone to do something.

Steve Bailey: “I can’t get any help from my association. I can’t get any help from the city. I can’t get any help from the county.”

No one can help, and so Steve has to just sit and wait.

Steve Bailey: “Every day I wake up wondering if, all of a sudden, my ceilings are going to start turning black or I’m going to get water damage.”

Well, Howard, no agency will do anything about the townhouse. If you are next door, do you have to live with it?

Howard Finkelstein: “The problem? Nothing has started to affect Steve’s townhouse yet. And the law does not provide a remedy to prevent harm; it only provides it once the harm occurs.”

We tracked down the owners of the townhouse. It was an elderly couple that lived in Massachusetts, and they told us they were not aware of the problem, that they paid a property manager to handle the townhouse.

We contacted him. He said there was no mold in the property, there was nothing wrong there — just a few minor things. He said that the proof there was no mold was that someone was moving in in September.

They didn’t.

But by November, the property was cleaned up, repaired and painted. And now ready for rental.

Howard Finkelstein: “If mold or something dangerous is about to spread to your townhouse or condo, find a way to track down the owner of the property or the person responsible for it. If they won’t correct the problem, put them on notice in writing that they have created a nuisance and you are going to sue them. Let them know that when you win, they will have to pay your legal bills.”

Steve Bailey: “Every day, someone has been here doing something.”

Steve is happy the place has been cleaned up, and happy he called that little group from Channel 7.

Steve Bailey: “I am very happy that I called Help Me Howard. I am glad we came to a conclusion now, and I think everybody is going to be happy.”

Glad it’s working out for Steve. Now, of course we read the homeowner’s association documents, and they don’t have to help. But according to the documents, they have the legal right to step in and fix the problem. They just chose not to.

So, if you are in a spot like Steve, pressure the management company and the board to help before it’s too late.

Had a problem so long it’s growing mold? Wanna be walled off from it? Let us house it, so we can sprinkle a few legal solutions around to clean things up.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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