Toxic mold infestation has been an area of concern for property owners and tenants for a number of years. While mold can pose a significant threat to the health of individuals who are exposed to its harmful spores, and property damage can be considerable, many individuals feel forced to remain living in their infested homes, simply because they don’t know where to turn, who can be held liable, or how to get out of a legal lease or purchase contract.
There are a number of factors that should be considered when an infestation of mold is discovered in an Illinois home in order to determine what legal options may be available. A good place to start is to evaluate the status of property ownership.
Legal Options for Property Owners
Property owners may have a variety of legal options available to them when they discover a mold infestation.
* Individuals should check to see if mold damage is excluded from their homeowner’s insurance coverage. If not excluded, a claim can be filed to recoup some of the damages caused by the mold. While helpful from a financial perspective, however, the compensation awarded may not be enough to remedy the problem in its entirety.
* A property disclosure form is almost always a component of an Illinois real estate transaction. If the former property owner was aware of the mold problem and did not disclose the infestation to the buyer, he or she can be held liable for failure to disclose.
* Builders and material suppliers can sometimes be held liable if their products or services were responsible for the mold.
* Real estate agents and home inspectors who were aware of a mold infestation and did not disclose the issue to the buyer can sometimes be held liable as well.
Legal Options for Tenants
The legal options for tenants who have discovered a mold infestation are a bit different. Like property owners, tenants may be able to recover damages for injuries and property loss. Many individuals are not aware, however, that they may legally be able to evacuate the home as well, regardless of any lease they may have. In Illinois, landlords are responsible for keeping rental property free of health hazards like mold under the “implied warranty of habitability”. This doctrine overrides the terms of a lease, enabling tenants to require that the landlord remedy the mold infestation or release them from financial obligations required by the lease.
Barry C. Zachary, Esq.
Barry C. Zachary P.C.
2700 Patriot Blvd., Suite 250
Glenview, Illinois 60026