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Possible Mold in the Walls and an Unresponsive Board

Article originally sourced from The New York Times

"Q. I live in a co-op in Midtown West. My living room wall abuts the wall of a new building. My wall was damaged during its construction, and mold keeps growing on it. Because of a licensing agreement between my co-op board and the new development, the developer’s contractors have cleaned the mold and replaced the dry wall three times in two years. But, they do not share the mold test results with me, nor have they provided me with remediation paperwork; they say that verbal confirmation is enough. My co-op board and managing agent are not helping me get the paperwork either, ignoring my written requests. What can I do?

A. Mold is serious and needs to be taken care of. Although black mold is toxic, common molds can be harmful to your health, too. If you are allergic to mold, it could cause a reaction or exacerbate asthma, and if your immune system is compromised from an illness like HIV or AIDS, such exposure could pose a serious health threat, said Dr. Louis DePalo, a pulmonology professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Even if the mold does not bother you now, you should still insist on removing it because “if you continue to live in that space, you might develop an allergy” to mold eventually, Dr. DePalo said. So how do you make sure the mold is really gone? You need the board to step up because fixing this is the board’s responsibility. The licensing agreement is between the board and the developer, and the board is responsible for problems within the walls, according to Robert J. Braverman, a real estate lawyer. “It is the board, not you, that is in a position to enforce the terms of the agreement” with the developer, Mr. Braverman said.

Because mold was discovered in your walls, there is a good chance that reports exist identifying the type of mold and the extent of the problem. Keep pressing the board to get hold of those reports, and any remediation reports, too, reminding the board that this is its responsibility.

If you cannot make any progress, you may want to hire an environmental consultant to test your apartment for hazardous levels of mold. If your consultant finds that the damage has not been adequately addressed, then the board must fix the problem on your behalf, Mr. Braverman said, and then go after the developer for compensation."

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