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Is it true that if you don’t know or disturb mold it usually is not an issue? We received a letter from HOA saying they spotted mold in the unit next door and we need to evacuate the tenants immediately. They gave us 2 weeks. Then they said they need to enter the unit and open up a wall. So being cautious with ‘mold’ we were very cooperative and allowed them to come in. The letter stated HOA is responsible for the inside of the walls so they will hire the mold specialist but the inside of the unit was owners responsibility but stated that they think the mold issue is coming from the up stair unit. They came in and took the kitchen apart. A week later we received a phone call saying the search has been completed and it was the upstairs unit leak that caused the mold. When they took our walls down, they found mold in our unit caused from a crack in the back spalsh from our sink. So our mold was only ours. Now they said we can pay to put the kitchen back in place. Do we have a claim for the upstairs unit or HOA to pay for us to put the kitchen back. The reason why the wall was down was cause they found mold that was cause by upstair unit.
Asked on June 22, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 5 years ago | Contributor
The HOA would be liable for the cost of putting your kitchen back unless you were at fault in causing the mold (such as by unreasonably shoddy or negligent maintenance): otherwise, if someone damages (or dismantles) your property, even for otherwise good reasons (to save other property or for health reasons), they have to pay to repair/replace it. No matter how good another's reasons are, they can't inflict a cost on you unless you caused the harmful condition, and if the HOA will not pay, you could sue them.
Similarly, the upstairs unit might be liable, too, if they were at fault (negligently careless) in causing the mold, but not otherwise; their liability, too, would be based in fault.