Dear Urban Diplomat: do we have to disclose our black-mould discovery?
Dear Urban Diplomat,
My wife and I blew our budget on a detached home and during a minor reno found black mould in the basement, which looks like it was patched over by the previous owners. We suspect it runs up the wall and into the kitchen. After some hemming and hawing, we’ve decided to sell and downsize to a semi, which makes more sense for us financially. Our question: are we legally, ethically or otherwise obligated to tell our agent and prospective buyers about the mould, or can we just pretend we never noticed?
—Fungus Among Us, Riverdale
Huffing black mould can cause sinus congestion, infection and in certain cases asthma, so no, ethically it’s not okay to screw it forward, though the fact that you’d consider it suggests some degree of ethical deficiency on your part. Legally it’s not a good idea either. If you offload your fungal abode, the next buyers could sue. Would they win? Maybe not, but lawsuits can be bank-breaking, win or lose. That said, if there’s slam-dunk evidence that the last owners were aware of the mould, you may be able to sue them for a little cleanup cash.
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6 thoughts on “Dear Urban Diplomat: do we have to disclose our black-mould discovery?”
If I bought your house and I found out that mould I’d sue. I’m guessing anyone buying in Riverdale at the moment would probably do the same thing.
If you had knowledge and covered it up then you’re liable. You can argue that it was there before you and you never knew but building materials being what they are, you might have a hard time covering it up to look like it’s been there.
The thing to keep in mind is that in civil court, it’s not innocent until proven guilty or guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That’a a lot of wiggle room.
not disclosing a known black mould problem clearly violates the DBAA rule.
Given the costs of moving (realtor, lawyer fees and land transfer taxes), surely it would be just cheaper to solve the problem and you’ll end up with a better house.
Who cares about disclosing? It sounds like the previous owners (who sold you the house) did, in fact “just cover it up”. You should come after them, and have them pay for the repair. After all, it’s their fault for not disclosing it. Why should you have to lose out? You should not have to take any risks like this, nor lay out a dime for someone else’s wrongdoing.
– Are you sure they are black mould? They could also be black markers. Someone once freaked out over some black permanent markers on a wood post, all for nothing at the end. You need an air quality test to confirm.
– Home owners and Realtors are legally required to disclose Latent Defects and this would be considered as one.
***Disclaimer: Not Legal Advice, Please Consult a Lawyer****
– Per the Limitations Act, you have 2 years from discovery of the black mould to pursuit legal action against the previous owner.
– But the key is to prove in court that the previous owner actually knew about the black mould.
– In your case, clearly you are aware of the issue. A reckless disregard of this truth is not going to help you in court when the next owner decides to take legal action against you.
– Which can end up costing tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of agony.
– Your realtor has the duty to make inquiries that is to ask you the right questions regarding the condition of your property.
– If you intentionally conceal this information from your realtor, likely they are not to be blamed.
– If they failed to ask the right questions, he/she does have E&O insurance at the end of the day.
– Where as you and your wife, they will come after your personal asset. You could easily end up losing your new semi.
– Remediation is probably not gonna be as costly as you think. Certainly not so costly relative to a lawsuit.
Just some of my humble thoughts.
Yes, unless you’re a scumbag – then no.
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