02-13-2013 11:04 PM
I bought my first house through Redfin and we closed this past July. We dont venture into the finished basement much but now 6 months later Im seeing some small signs of mold in the basement. The house was a flip and during inspection there was a dehumidifyer in that room. Also paint cans throughout the house and the walls looked freshly painted. Do I have any recourse with the seller here? I also met someone that knew the previous owner (before forclosure) and even he said the basement was moldy.
02-19-2013 09:02 AM
Unless you specifically ASKED the seller whether there was mold and he or she specifically denied it, you have no recourse against the seller. Massachusetts, unlike some other states, is not a required-disclosure state, which means that sellers don't have to disclose things to you unless you ask. This is why inspections are especially important. And if you look at the document that you signed for the inspector, you will see that you have no recourse against him, either - and, of course, a real estate agent is not required to know anything about the property other than what s/he is told. A dehumidifier would have at least hinted that there is a moisture problem, if not mold. Many basements are damp even if they don't flood, and you need to run a dehumidifier during the wetter months - I had to do that in two previous houses and never had mold because I used the dehumidifier. So the cheapest and easiest thing for you to do is to buy one. They aren't prohibitively expensive, you can buy portable ones at any home improvement store, and they can be set to run when the humidity reaches a certain level - or continuously, if you prefer.
Also, you should determine for certain whether what you're seeing is actually mold. If it's a tiny area, you can always remove it yourself with something like Clorox. However, to be sure that it's not more rampant, you should have a professional look at it (being aware, of course, that there are some unscrupulous "professionals" who will tell you that there's mold because they want to earn money from its removal, even if there isn't really any.) Do a little research to find a reputable company to be sure.
Seek legal advice if you are anxious to find someone to hold accountable; do not rely on this posting.
02-19-2013 12:53 PM
There's mold and then there's mold.
I'd bet that EVERY basement in New England has SOME mold in it. That's normal and there's a pretty simple solution to keep it in check - keep your basement as dry as possible.
So your first step shoud be a mold test an then to turn on a dehumidifier. I f the mold test reveals the mold is of a toxic variety (i.e. black mold) you might want to contact your lawyer for advice. If it isn't a toxic variety, congrats! You have a normal basement. Keep the dehumidifier running...
02-20-2013 12:57 PM
It sounds as though the home might have been a foreclosure when you bought it? In that case, the seller (the bank) likely included documentation in your purchase and sale agreement that stated they had never lived in the property and didnt know much about it - which, frustratingly, is likely true. They dont look very closely.
It is typical for a bank to do really light cosmetic stuff (like paint the whole house primer cream color) to sell it - whether or not they are trying to conceal anything.
The list agent has a different professional standard of disclosure than a private seller, but even then, you'd have to prove that he or she knew positively that there was mold and avoided disclosing it (which might be tough if even an inspector didnt catch it).
If you specifically asked the seller about mold . . .and the seller had owned the property a while, lived there, and would definitely KNOW . . . and he/she said "no mold", you MIGHT chat with an attorney.
Other than that, unfortunately, if it wasnt actually moldy at inspection (or, not enough so that the inspector caught it or was able to comment on it), I'm not sure what you could do other than have it professionally inspected, remediated if necessary, and improved (by way of a dehumidifier for maintenance, water proofing if applicable, and active removal of anything that is already there).
As many have said, I think most new england basements do require ongoing moisture remediation, but I dont think that is of much comfort here - sorry about that. Act now before the problem gets worse, and get professional advice as to how to minimize maintenance in the future.
02-22-2013 09:12 PM
I've had a dehumidifier in the basement since the first week just bc "it's a basement" and had humidity in the air in August. It's not black mold that's visible but small green dots coming through the white paint on an outside wall and the carpet below that area looks dirty. Only spot in the entire basement that appears "wet".
The house was a foreclosure that was bought at auction in February by a real estate agent....then put up for sale by himself in June and I closed on it end of July so he owned it for 6 months or so.
02-25-2013 03:04 PM
If the seller was an agent, he/she is held to a higher standard of disclosure. Still, it would be an uphill battle.
If you feel in your heart of hearts that he deliberately concealed something and that you have reasonable evidence to suspect it, you might start with the local real estate ethics bureau.