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Wesley Weisberg
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Seeking Advice, Mold, Former Tenant Suing

Wesley Weisberg
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Posted Nov 20 2023, 21:01

What have other land lords done when former tenant sues for mold?? Have a bad situation where former tenant unjustly is suing for mold. Insurance does not cover, nor does umbrella coverage. Insurance attorney recommending settling but its hard to think of paying out when we know the charges are not truthful and former tenant is seeking insurance money. Insurance has no skin in it since they don't cover mold, only have duty to defend. 

Mold was caused by shallow groundwater/excessive rain last winter. Tenant did not do anything to help mitigate mold growth, actually ran a humidifier. Claiming landlord negligence and breach of habitability.  Time between mold identification to when remediation started was six days. No black mold, only common mold. Tenant moved out 3 days after discovery into air-bnb that was 3 times rent and expected us to pay. Was non-cooperative and delayed remediation due to not providing access (would not move items in house). Broke the lease. 

Property has been fully remediated and is re-rented. Post remediation mold inspection passed. 

Has anyone had this happen? I'm told these suites are very common. We are looking at all options and any suggestions. Most importantly, how do we protect from this happening again in the future?! Are there other insurance agencies that cover mold and groundwater damage? For sure, better tenant screening....

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Chris Seveney
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Chris Seveney
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Replied Nov 21 2023, 05:00
Quote from @Wesley Weisberg:

What have other land lords done when former tenant sues for mold?? Have a bad situation where former tenant unjustly is suing for mold. Insurance does not cover, nor does umbrella coverage. Insurance attorney recommending settling but its hard to think of paying out when we know the charges are not truthful and former tenant is seeking insurance money. Insurance has no skin in it since they don't cover mold, only have duty to defend. 

Mold was caused by shallow groundwater/excessive rain last winter. Tenant did not do anything to help mitigate mold growth, actually ran a humidifier. Claiming landlord negligence and breach of habitability.  Time between mold identification to when remediation started was six days. No black mold, only common mold. Tenant moved out 3 days after discovery into air-bnb that was 3 times rent and expected us to pay. Was non-cooperative and delayed remediation due to not providing access (would not move items in house). Broke the lease. 

Property has been fully remediated and is re-rented. Post remediation mold inspection passed. 

Has anyone had this happen? I'm told these suites are very common. We are looking at all options and any suggestions. Most importantly, how do we protect from this happening again in the future?! Are there other insurance agencies that cover mold and groundwater damage? For sure, better tenant screening....


 What are there damages? Did they have a third party inspection that showed the mold inside the property was different than the normal airborne mold? Did they provide any written notice?

First thing you ALWAYS do when someone makes a claim is have your attorney on speed dial. It is their burden of proof to show they were negatively impacted. Also if there was damage to the property were they required to have renters insurance? Did they file a claim? Its no different than if your house flooded, they would have to move out and you are not responsible for those costs - you just cannot charge them rent.

If you have not already gotten one, get an attorney. 

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Jonathan R McLaughlin
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Jonathan R McLaughlin
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Replied Nov 21 2023, 05:28

Facts as stated sound heavily in your favor. I would push the insurance company on this…you really aren’t the lawyers client the insurance company is. If you settle i would understand the consequences of that on your insurance. Make them work for you to the extent feasible.

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Wesley Weisberg
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Wesley Weisberg
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Replied Nov 21 2023, 10:56
Quote from @Chris Seveney:
Quote from @Wesley Weisberg:

What have other land lords done when former tenant sues for mold?? Have a bad situation where former tenant unjustly is suing for mold. Insurance does not cover, nor does umbrella coverage. Insurance attorney recommending settling but its hard to think of paying out when we know the charges are not truthful and former tenant is seeking insurance money. Insurance has no skin in it since they don't cover mold, only have duty to defend. 

Mold was caused by shallow groundwater/excessive rain last winter. Tenant did not do anything to help mitigate mold growth, actually ran a humidifier. Claiming landlord negligence and breach of habitability.  Time between mold identification to when remediation started was six days. No black mold, only common mold. Tenant moved out 3 days after discovery into air-bnb that was 3 times rent and expected us to pay. Was non-cooperative and delayed remediation due to not providing access (would not move items in house). Broke the lease. 

Property has been fully remediated and is re-rented. Post remediation mold inspection passed. 

Has anyone had this happen? I'm told these suites are very common. We are looking at all options and any suggestions. Most importantly, how do we protect from this happening again in the future?! Are there other insurance agencies that cover mold and groundwater damage? For sure, better tenant screening....


 What are there damages? Did they have a third party inspection that showed the mold inside the property was different than the normal airborne mold? Did they provide any written notice?

First thing you ALWAYS do when someone makes a claim is have your attorney on speed dial. It is their burden of proof to show they were negatively impacted. Also if there was damage to the property were they required to have renters insurance? Did they file a claim? Its no different than if your house flooded, they would have to move out and you are not responsible for those costs - you just cannot charge them rent.

If you have not already gotten one, get an attorney. 


 Chris, they have an injury lawyer. Claiming health defects from mold exposure, along with a laundry list of demands. Again, was only common mold and we took action immediately. We did a mold inspection and have that report. The tenant did their own mold inspection, which aligned with our inspection so was not necessary. 

We filed a claim immediately but was denied because the water damage stemmed from "shallow groundwater" infiltrating the slab then walls. We require our tenants to all have renters insurance. I told them to file a claim to see if it would help them but their claim was denied as well....insurance is crap basically. I cant believe we were denied since SD was receiving unprecedented rain during that time 40 days straight of rain. We even tried FEMA but no luck.

We have a litigation attorney we are retaining who deals directly with tenant/landlord issues. But he is expensive. We are awaiting his thoughts on the matter to see if we even have a shot or if we will be wasting our time and just settle. It makes me sick to my stomach the thought of settling but I also know that its a gamble to go forward with litigation. The properties are my grandmothers and I help her maintain and manage them. This is all very stressful for her, 40 years of managing her rentals and this is the first time this has happened.  

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James Kim
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James Kim
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Replied Nov 21 2023, 14:25
Quote from @Wesley Weisberg:
Quote from @Chris Seveney:
Quote from @Wesley Weisberg:

What have other land lords done when former tenant sues for mold?? Have a bad situation where former tenant unjustly is suing for mold. Insurance does not cover, nor does umbrella coverage. Insurance attorney recommending settling but its hard to think of paying out when we know the charges are not truthful and former tenant is seeking insurance money. Insurance has no skin in it since they don't cover mold, only have duty to defend. 

Mold was caused by shallow groundwater/excessive rain last winter. Tenant did not do anything to help mitigate mold growth, actually ran a humidifier. Claiming landlord negligence and breach of habitability.  Time between mold identification to when remediation started was six days. No black mold, only common mold. Tenant moved out 3 days after discovery into air-bnb that was 3 times rent and expected us to pay. Was non-cooperative and delayed remediation due to not providing access (would not move items in house). Broke the lease. 

Property has been fully remediated and is re-rented. Post remediation mold inspection passed. 

Has anyone had this happen? I'm told these suites are very common. We are looking at all options and any suggestions. Most importantly, how do we protect from this happening again in the future?! Are there other insurance agencies that cover mold and groundwater damage? For sure, better tenant screening....


 What are there damages? Did they have a third party inspection that showed the mold inside the property was different than the normal airborne mold? Did they provide any written notice?

First thing you ALWAYS do when someone makes a claim is have your attorney on speed dial. It is their burden of proof to show they were negatively impacted. Also if there was damage to the property were they required to have renters insurance? Did they file a claim? Its no different than if your house flooded, they would have to move out and you are not responsible for those costs - you just cannot charge them rent.

If you have not already gotten one, get an attorney. 


 Chris, they have an injury lawyer. Claiming health defects from mold exposure, along with a laundry list of demands. Again, was only common mold and we took action immediately. We did a mold inspection and have that report. The tenant did their own mold inspection, which aligned with our inspection so was not necessary. 

We filed a claim immediately but was denied because the water damage stemmed from "shallow groundwater" infiltrating the slab then walls. We require our tenants to all have renters insurance. I told them to file a claim to see if it would help them but their claim was denied as well....insurance is crap basically. I cant believe we were denied since SD was receiving unprecedented rain during that time 40 days straight of rain. We even tried FEMA but no luck.

We have a litigation attorney we are retaining who deals directly with tenant/landlord issues. But he is expensive. We are awaiting his thoughts on the matter to see if we even have a shot or if we will be wasting our time and just settle. It makes me sick to my stomach the thought of settling but I also know that its a gamble to go forward with litigation. The properties are my grandmothers and I help her maintain and manage them. This is all very stressful for her, 40 years of managing her rentals and this is the first time this has happened.  

 @Wesley Weisberg

I'm no expert but i have been talking to my insurance agent about some properties i was looking at and saw this post and asked him the question about mold and how it's covered in insurance policies. He told me that mold coverage was taken off all insurance policies nationwide in 2005. You can still purchase separate mold coverage but you need to get a mold remediation company to inspect your property at your expense in order to get separate mold insurance. He also told me if we ever see anything in our policies talking about mold remediation for say $4,500 then it's just to help cover the cost of the test, not to rid of it. He also told me since mold was taken off in 2005 it also prevents people from suing landlord solely for the existence of mold as of 2005. He thinks if someone is being sued for what appears to be related to mold, it would probably be for something else. Side note he mentioned was to make sure the tenant's renter's policy has 'loss of use' coverage that would pay the renter to live somewhere else while the repair for, in this case, mold was being done. He said to see what the actual exact claim is on the lawsuit as he thinks it's most likely not for the presence of mold itself.

Second side note, he also did say that a lot of landlords are stripping down their insurance coverage to exclude certain things, like water (not flood) coverage and other coverage, he said renters could sue for that, though I don't know how one could sue a landlord for lacking something on the landlord policy.

Bottom line, it could be that any mention of the mold is just there to aid the actual claim which might not be for the mold itself. Hope this helps.

UPDATE: I just re-read your latest post and saw that they are claiming injury due to mold, my comment above may be invalid then, but i'll leave it for reference only. 

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Wesley Weisberg
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Replied Feb 29 2024, 13:12

UPDATE: Case settled, tenant won $115,000 without producing any evidence or ailments. Our lease was old and had attorney fee's provisions clause which made the case too risky to go to court regardless if we were in the right. Plaintiff attorney capitalized on that and insurance settled. Insane to me that they were able to get away with that. 

Make sure your leases are updated and attorney proof. We have updated all our rental agreements now. 

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James Kim
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James Kim
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Replied Mar 12 2024, 23:25
Quote from @Wesley Weisberg:

UPDATE: Case settled, tenant won $115,000 without producing any evidence or ailments. Our lease was old and had attorney fee's provisions clause which made the case too risky to go to court regardless if we were in the right. Plaintiff attorney capitalized on that and insurance settled. Insane to me that they were able to get away with that. 

Make sure your leases are updated and attorney proof. We have updated all our rental agreements now. 

 @Wesley Weisberg how did you get insurance to settle? Your OP mentioned insurance wouldn't cover? Just curious. Thanks!

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Wesley Weisberg
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Replied Mar 13 2024, 09:56

I honestly have no idea and we are not asking questions. They only asked us for a good faith payment of $7,500 and it sounds like they are covering the rest. I think we lucked out on this one despite the circumstances.