Surprise! The dream house has mold! Who is the lucky person that owns that mold? This is not as silly a question as it may seem. Really what we are talking about is who is the responsible party to correct mold problems and what happens when that person is not the person affected by the mold?
Here are some everyday examples where there is a difference between exposure to mold, ownership of the mold, responsibility for the expense of remediation.
Let’s stick to talking about the house for sale. The seller is often unaware of a mold problem. These can gradually evolve over time and just not be noticed. Most of us do not observe how much our hair is growing today. However, we know that our hair grows because it gets longer over time. In that same vein, sometimes the seller never saw mold growing. In some instances, they may not have even lived in the home. It is also often the case that the seller doesn’t believe that mold is a health issue or never understood that fuzzy dirt was mold and a problem to consider.
Then comes along a home inspector or observant buyer and mold is now an issue and BIG potential expense.
Back to the mold ownership issue. The seller owns the mold until the moment of closing. What that means to the seller is that if they pay to clean up or resolve the mold issue, they are taking money from their pocket and spending it on what will soon be somebody else’s house and problem. On the other hand, the buyer assumes mold ownership, health risk and expenses of mold at that closing.
You would probably not be surprised to hear sellers say “what was good enough for me should be good enough for the buyer”. Mold, roofs, wiring problems, sewer backups and more all fall into that basket of fixups a seller doesn’t “want” to do.
By the way, we can all understand that sentiment. If you are like most of us, you don’t want to spend money on a long list of things. Fixing up a house that you are selling is near the top of that list. The problem is that there is “what we want” and “what we must do” and they are often very different matters.