Sellers Should…… and Buyers Should….
..disclose if the home had any leaks or water intrusion issues in the last 10 years per California law. However, this does not always happen for a number of reasons. It sometimes may be forgotten, temporarily! There may not be any records kept of the incident that can be accessed. And sometimes it is deliberate deception on the part of the current owners not to disclose water related events. It is best to be open so that the owner, after selling, is not liable for issues not disclosed.
Many times people don’t think there was much of an issue and may ignore it after a time then forget or decide not to disclose it. This, of course, is not right and is against the law.
There are those owners who are very transparent and disclose all information that is needed for a prospective buyer to make their decision to buy.
Buyers should ask direct questions related to possible past leaks and water events that could have grown mold or bacteria. Most people don’t think about the bacteria aspect that can and usually does accompany mold growth. It is important to be cognizant of that fact since bacteria can be as much or more dangerous than the mold growth.
Ask the owners if a current report from their insurance carrier for claims against the home can be made available going back 10 years of possible and get permission to confirm the information with their carrier.
Now since a claim may not have been filed for a water issue that insurance report cannot be considered conclusive or the end of this information gathering. Having a ‘Due Diligence Inspection’ for potential Moisture or mold issues is important to help rule out potential issues. Many realtors will recommend to their clients to have this type of inspection performed for that reason and many realtors want to stay away from the dreaded ‘Mold Inspector’ as they fear the sale being delayed or even canceled. So it is the buyer’s responsibility to direct that the Mold Inspection (Inspection for potential mold/moisture and water damage issues) be done.
Keep in mind this is not the same as a Certified Home Inspector performing his/her inspection of the property as these look for building defects or code violations that should be addressed. These inspectors are not trained or Certified for Mold/Bacteria or water damage issues and are thus not qualified to evaluate such. Many of these inspectors will carry a moisture meter with them to check some areas for moisture but are not qualified to evaluated the moisture that may be found. They will normally recommend a ‘Mold Inspector’ to come in and evaluate areas in question, but not always.
Recent Inspection: I performed an inspection this month (early March) for a family that had just moved into their new home they just purchased because they were informed by the previous tenant with pictures and videos of leaks that had occurred within the last 8 months and not disclosed by the then current owners. It was evident that 2 issues were not addressed properly and one not at all. Thus, this left the Wife greatly concerned about her family with 2 young children and possible exposure to mold and bacteria.
During the inspection 2 additional water related issues were found, wax ring leaks from 2 bathrooms, which required remediations in both areas. The cost will be in the $10k + range with repairs.
This is the most recent example of a home buyer not having the ‘Due Diligence Mold Inspection’ performed so that these issues can be addressed and compensated for. My client may have legal recourse due to at least 2 leaks not being disclosed and be financially compensated for these. The 2 additional issues that were found with 2 bathrooms they likely cannot get compensation for since the previous owners likely were not aware of them and the buyers did not have a ‘Due Diligence Mold Inspection’ done during the buying process or while the home was in escrow. Things you want to keep in mind when buying a home.
Steve Mullins (i.e. Mold Detector)
Certified Microbial Consultant (CMC)
Moisture and Mold Detection, Inc.