The entire real estate industry - from owners and developers to contractors and architects - has been focused on the issue of mold contamination during the past year. However, no segment of industry has been more watchful than cooperative and condominium boards. It has become increasingly clear that in the current environment, co-ops and condos must take a leadership position to maintain control over this issue.
With this in mind, many boards have begun to implement comprehensive mold management programs. Unfortunately, in some instances the "mold experts" being utilized by co-ops and condos are not properly pre-qualified. Inexperienced companies with limited expertise in mold contamination and mold management are doing more harm than good.
While there is still some dispute over the nature and extent of health risks associated with mold, there can be no doubt that the mere presence of mold in a residential building can become a serious problem - even if only through the negative perception and publicity that mold exposure can generate. This is true despite the lack of a definitive connection between mold and specific health problems.
Concern over liability and potential litigation risk clearly increased this past December when a "toxic mold" jury verdict (
The case involved Katrine Stevens, a female graphic designer, who sued her condominium association in 1995 after suffering asthma and flu-like symptoms from reported toxic mold. After an eight-year battle with the condominium directors, the jury deciding on her lawsuit found in favor of Stevens. With interest, she could receive nearly $550,000.