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Q&A: Fixing a Mold Problem

Q. I own a condo unit in Massachusetts. I have a persistent mold problem, stemming from water damage coming in through the outside bricks. I hired a mold assessment company and they took air and material samples. It was determined that there is extensive mold growth and damage. I assume that since this originated outside my unit that the management company is responsible for any and all cleaning and repairs to my unit? Is that correct?

                    —All Wet in Worcester

A.  “A condominium is a hybrid type of ownership with individual ownership of the unit and an undivided interest with the other unit owners in the common area of the condominium,” says attorney Cameron C. Pease, who is a partner with the law firm of Goldman & Pease in Needham, MA. “The condominium documents and, in particular the Master Deed, will define what is considered common area. Typically, the trustees of a condominium are responsible for repairs and maintenance in the common area and you are responsible for repairs and maintenance in your unit.

“Who is responsible for any and all cleaning and repairs to your unit will depend upon what caused the mold in your unit (i.e. the failure of the trustees to maintain and repair the common area or the failure of the unit owner to maintain and repair their unit). In your case, it sounds like the mold arose from water infiltrating through the outside brick of your building. While you need to look at the condominium documents, typically the exposed brick on the outside of the condominium is considered common area. You should take the position that any damage to the interior of your unit was caused by the trustees’ failure to adequately repair and maintain the common area. In such case, the trustees are responsible to pay for the cost of repair, maintenance and cleaning in both the common area and your unit. Have an expert report confirming that the mold arose from water infiltrating through the outside brick of your building.”

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