Living in a warm and humid climate like Florida’s puts your home at risk for mold growth. The risk only increases during hurricane season (June 1 – November 30). Mold prevention should not only be a regular part of maintaining your Florida condo, but it is also important to your health and well-being. Understanding how to prevent mold growth, what to do if you discover mold in your condo, how to remove it, and who is responsible for any damage to your property, can bring you peace of mind and help you to be well-prepared and well-informed should you experience mold or water damage in your home.
As set forth below, the Florida Department of Health has developed a lot of useful information to address common concerns about indoor mold. An experienced Florida condo attorney can help you to understand your rights and obligations and maximize your recovery for a mold or water damage claim.
According to the Department of Health, there are four kinds of health problems that come from exposure to mold:
For those who are sensitive to molds, symptoms such as nasal and sinus irritation or congestion, dry hacking cough, wheezing, skin rashes, or burning, watery or reddened eyes may occur. People with severe allergies to mold may have more serious reactions, such as shortness of breath. Those with chronic illnesses or immune system problems may be more likely to get infections from certain molds, viruses and bacteria. Molds can also trigger asthma attacks in asthmatics.
Headaches, memory problems, mood swings, nosebleeds and body aches and pains are sometimes reported in mold complaints, but the causes of these physical symptoms are not yet understood. Indeed, the toxic effects of certain molds are a controversial topic in the medical and scientific communities. Very little is known about the actual health risks from breathing in or having skin contact with mold toxins. Currently, allergic disease is considered the most likely health problem related to mold exposure.
Mold needs moisture in order to grow. Indoors, mold growth can be found where humidity levels are high, like basements and showers. Many building materials, such as wood and sheetrock, provide “food” that can support mold growth. Because molds can grow almost anywhere there is enough moisture or high humidity, controlling moisture is the key to stopping indoor mold growth. Keep your home clean and dry. When water stands for even 24 hours, common molds can take hold. Among other things, the Florida Department of Health recommends keeping humidity levels in your home below 60% and venting moisture from showering and cooking to the outside.
Many Florida Condominiums are owned by “Snowbirds” who only stay in the unit part of the year. If you plan on leaving your Florida condo for more than a couple of weeks you need to make sure you run your air conditioner at a minimum setting of 78 degrees to avoid moisture-driven mold. You should also shut off the water supply coming into the unit, if possible, to avoid any sudden leaks while you are away. You may even want to consider hiring someone to check on your unit.
Mold should be cleaned as soon as it appears. If it is a small enough area of mold (less than 10 square feet), you may be able to do the job yourself. Just be sure to wear gloves and goggles. Use a detergent/soapy water or a commercial mildew or mold cleaner. In most cases, bleach is unnecessary. Once the area is cleaned, be sure that is thoroughly dried. If the mold returns quickly, it may mean that you have an underlying problem, such as a water leak, which must be addressed. If there is a lot of water damage and/or mold growth covers more than 10 square feet, check the EPA guidelines and consider hiring a professional.
Mold and water damage to your home can be overwhelming. Fortunately, in the case of an unexpected event, your condo association will likely be responsible for repairing the common elements (damaged ceilings and drywall), while your homeowner’s insurance should cover damage to the finished interior surface and your personal property. A more detailed discussion of who will pay for water damage to your Florida condo can be found here.
If you have suffered water or mold damage to your Florida condominium and your association is disputing its obligations, we welcome you to contact us at (954) 966-3909. We serve the legal needs of individual condominium owners, homeowners and cooperative owners in resolving disputes with their associations throughout Florida, including Broward, Dade and Palm Beach Counties, as well as Hollywood, Davie, Pembroke Pines, Hallandale, Sunny Isles, Aventura, Miami, North Miami, Brickell, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and Naples. We never represent associations.
Please note that free case evaluation is by telephone and does not include legal advice. Office consults with legal advice are available on a flat fee basis.