Property Q&A in Folsom>Question Details

Maray11, Home Buyer in Folsom, CA

Former owner did not disclose mold problem, covered it up. Purchased home in 2005 in CA as a lease to own. Do I have recourse? No inspection was done

Asked by Maray11, Folsom, CA Mon Sep 13, 2010

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Maray...

After you answer Jim Walker's questions and you still want to move further... here's a company that I've used in the kind of circumstance that you are in.

In our case it was a Bank Owned/REO that hired a contractor to cover up the problem.

We used Environmental Services Inc... Don Fueling.. contact them at: services@environmentalserviceco.com and have them evaluate your place if you haven't already contacted a company like this.

He's been involved in several cases and is an "expert" witness.

See how bad it is first.

Let us know what happens... We'd like to hear the feedback from you...

I hope this helps...
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 13, 2010
Did you actually take deed ownership to the moldy house in 2005 ? Or did you enter into a lease with an option to buy some date later than that? (such as 2010) Are you now the owner on title or are you still a lessee with a soon to expire option? If you are now on title, when and how did that occur? How much was lease payment for use of the property? and how much was option payment?

What was the property worth in 2005? what was it worth now? How much will it cost to remove all the mold permanently and completely repair the property. How much in actual damages have you suffered? (medical bills, lost work time?

Property owners have a duty to disclose defects that are known to them, if they believe that the defect materially affects the value, use or enjoyment of the property.

Has the former owner admitted to covering up the problem? Maybe he did not know about it. Maybe he thought he had fixed it. Maybe he was just the lying sack that you just accused him of being. You have your suspicions of the former owner,. but do you have proof of your suspicions?

Was the failure to disclose due to ignorance or negligence by the seller? Or was it a fraudulent intent to deceive?

Have answers to these questions and more ready for your attorney, because she charges by the hour, in six minute increments. ( after the expiration of the first half hour of free consultation ). That free half hour will go by real quick, if you haven't got all of your documents gathered up. and answers ready. Re-read everything in your file, and organize your file with labels, before that appointment, so that you know where to look when she asks you.

another question: the value of an option to buy almost any property in California in 2010 at the 2005 market value is worthless. Even if the property was totally free of mold it would today be worth only a fraction of the value it was in 2005. It does not seem conceivable to be economically sensible to exercise an option that was tied to those bubbly boom time values.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 13, 2010
Jim Walker, Real Estate Pro in Carmichael, CA
MVP'08
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Well when we popped the base boards off, there was some sort of tape over the mold. Also, there was new laminate floors put on the floor prior to us moving in. Between the old and new laminate there was mold. One another side of the house where there was mold, the contractor found different sized sheet rock where mold was present. Apparently there is a date on sheet rock and according to that date, that sheet rock was put up right before we moved in. Neighbors also mentioned prior tenants move out due to flooding problems and other issues with the land lord (the seller). We did not use an agent for the transaction. BTW..owner is a Broker and a licensed contractor. Yes I know, not very smart on our part, but due to our circumstances at the time, this was the only way we could have purchased property.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 13, 2010
Hi Maray,
Here's one other issue to be aware of. Depending on the age of the house you may have to have a lead-based paint certified contractor do the work. As of Sept. 1, the law says that if the house is 1974 or older, you have to have that type of contractor. The fine is $37500 per occurance - meaning anywhere in the house you do work is an occurance.
Check out UPREI, United Professional Real Estate Inspectors, (google them) for more info on that. They also do testing for mold and other hazardous materials. if you want to know what other hidden items exist, this may be the way to start.
Hope that helps,
Krista Johnson, GRI, SFR
ConnectRealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 14, 2010
You could be 100% right and the seller/landlord could be a scum....but you might end up spending a load of money on attorney fees and the only one who wins is the attorney.

I'd suggest you get the scope of the damages, both to the property and possible health related issues, and then determine what you really want the seller to do to compensate you. If you can handle through mediation, do that. If he's licensed through the DRE, check out avenues that way for complaints that you can file there, but really think twice before going in for a long litigation process....sorry, but the only ones who normally win are attorneys....
Web Reference: http://www.suearcher.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 13, 2010
Dear Maray11: Gather all of your documents for the lease /option purchase and seek the counsel of an attorney specializing in real estate transactions.

To me litigation always seems to be the last course of action. Is there any way you can quantify the damages via getting estimates for repairs. That will go a long way towards settlement with the seller if that's what you and your legal cousnel decide based upon the documentaton for the transaction..

Good luck
Eirn Phillips
Keller Williams Realty
Web Reference: http://SoldByErin.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 13, 2010
Maray...

Listen.. I feel your pain... but how do you know that the previous owner covered it up...?

If it existed prior to the time you moved in...? how do you know that..? If you were living there under what appears to be a "lease with option to buy" type of situation, are you sure the mold wasn't created after you moved in.... It's been 5 years since you apparently moved in. You've been in possession all that time right...?

I think we'd like to hear a little more information before you start calling an attorney looking for some kind of remedy from him.

Have you had a Mold Inspection completed...? That would be my first suggestion. After that is completed then you might have some kind of remedy if it can be proven the owner covered it up.

Let us know...

I hope this helps...

Make it a great day....!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 13, 2010
Hi Maray11,

You will want to consult a real estate attorney. Check the Seller Property Questionnaire if there is one. You could also contact the agent that worked with you on the transaction to get a full set of documents. They should still have them.

I work with an attorney in Folsom who could answer your question. A free consultation can be scheduled by calling them. 866-904-4171 is the 24 hour number.

Best of luck to you.

Krista
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 13, 2010
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