Mold Damage Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale
Mold thrives in the warm weather and humid environment of Florida, making mold growth a serious problem for homes and buildings in the Fort Lauderdale area. Mold can cause structural damage to buildings, ruin personal belongings, and even affect your health.
If your home or residence has been damaged by mold, you may be entitled to compensation. The mold damage lawyers at Schlacter Law in Fort Lauderdale understand that mold damage in homes, apartments, and condos can be disastrous and costly, and, in many cases, the mold damage wasn’t even your fault. Whether your landlord rented you a mold-ridden apartment, an unaddressed leaky roof caused mold to grow on your condo ceiling, or there was accidental water discharge from your home appliance, Schlacter can help you get compensated for mold removal, remediation, and other damages associated with toxic mold exposure.
Molds are microscopic organisms that are part of the fungi kingdom. Molds can be found virtually everywhere, outdoors and indoors, and travel through the environment via tiny, invisible, lightweight spores that float through the air. Outdoors, mold plays a part in breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees. Mold spores can enter the indoor environment through open doors, windows, vents, heating and air conditioning systems, or even by attaching to clothing, shoes, bags, and pets.
The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus. Cladosporium is typically a black or green “pepper-like” substance commonly found in various ducts systems, on appliances, and on painted or porcelain surfaces. Penicillium is a blue-green colored mold and can often be found growing on water-damaged carpeting, upholstered furniture, wallpaper, and even fiberglass duct insulation where there is sufficient humidity. Aspergillus can come in a variety of colors and is often found in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, but it can be found in other places affected by water.
Molds may begin to grow in Fort Lauderdale homes and buildings when mold spores land on moist or wet surfaces such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, around areas of high humidity or condensation, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows on common Fort Lauderdale building materials and household products such as paper, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, drywall, insulation, wallpaper, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
Signs of Mold Growth
Aside from the visible sight of mold, there are several other indicators that mold may be growing in your home including:
- Signs of a moisture problem: Any long-term moisture problem in your house will usually inevitably lead to mold. Some signs you may have a moisture problem include wall surface abnormalities such as peeling, bubbling, or cracking of paint or wallpaper, bowed, bulging, or warped walls or flooring. Some surfaces of walls or other materials may also feel damp.
- Moldy smell: Mold is often associated with a stale, musky odor, caused by mold spores feeding on nutrients and offgassing.
- Mold-related illness: Mold exposure is often related to allergy-like symptoms including sneezing, stuffy nose, and red and itchy eyes and skin. If your symptoms improve upon leaving a likely infected building or home, that may be a sign that a mold infestation is causing your symptoms.
Sources of Mold Growth
Moisture is a key cause of mold growth, allowing it to spread widely throughout the home. The most common sources of mold growth in Fort Lauderdale buildings include:
- Humidity and dampness: Fort Lauderdale is known for its hot and humid climate. In places where humidity is naturally high, mold growth can be a recurring issue. Mold only needs the humidity level to be higher than 55% to start growing. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends keeping humidity levels in the home as low as possible–between thirty and fifty percent–using an air conditioner or dehumidifier. 
- Leaking pipes: The average home has a complex network of pipes and plumbing designed to bring hot and cold water to every fixture in a house. Pipes also create vital vent and drainage systems. Most of these pipes are buried deep behind walls, making most leaky pipes hard to detect. By the time the average homeowner discovers a leaky pipe, mold has usually already started to grow. Check pipes regularly and look for signs of water buildup or mold growth.
- Leaks in a roof: Like a leaking pipe, a leak in the roof might not be discovered until water seepage into the attic leads to mold growth. Check your attic regularly for signs of leaks including tell-tale water spots on the ceiling below the attic. Signs of water damage on the ceiling or any mold that has grown through is generally indicative of a leak in the roof.
- Condensation: According to 2015 data collected by the U.S. government’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey, nearly ninety percent of American households have an air conditioning system of some sort.  Water vapor can form within the duct system of air conditioning units when cold air passes through the ducts and there is high humidity in the outside environment. This allows water vapor to condense into water droplets which collect in the AC system. Places where condensation can occur are prime spots for mold growth.
- Poor ventilation: Poor ventilation in naturally wet areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms allows humid air to circulate throughout the home. This also means that puddles of water and damp materials in the home take longer to dry out, allowing for mold growth of their own. Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms and make sure laundry dryers vent outside the home.
- Flooding: A majority of the city of Fort Lauderdale’s residents live in or close to a Special Flood Hazard Area. Properties in this area, mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), are prone to flooding.  Since mold only needs a suitable surface to be wet for twenty-four hours before it can begin to grow, it is almost inevitable that some mold problems will develop in your home after it has been affected by flooding.
- Water buildup around the foundation: Water buildup in the yard and ground saturation around the base of your home can cause frequent water problems for the foundation of your home, compromising the integrity of the structure and allowing water to seep into the home creating an environment for mold growth.
Florida Mold Laws for Renters in Fort Lauderdale
In the state of Florida, a landlord is required to rent a dwelling that is fit to be lived in and free of pests, in compliance with local Fort Lauderdale health, building, and safety codes.  Most toxic mold attorneys extend this verbiage to cover the eradication of mold within a rental unit–house, apartment complex, condominium, mobile home, or other.
If a tenant finds mold in their residence that the landlord was previously unaware of, it is generally the landlord’s responsibility to pay for mold removal and remediation, unless the tenant’s blatant actions directly caused the mold. If the landlord refuses to address the mold issue after properly notifying the landlord of the problem, a tenant has the right to discuss his or her options with a mold damage attorney.
If a Fort Lauderdale landlord or property manager is found to have negligently created a mold problem or allowed it to continue at a property due to poor or improper maintenance, the landlord could be found liable for harm.
Furthermore, if a landlord is aware of mold growing in a rental unit and decides to lease the unit to a tenant without properly eradicating the mold, the person or company could be sued and held liable for various damages in a negligence lawsuit including:
- Medical bills associated with toxic mold exposure
- Replacement costs for the tenants’ mold-damaged personal property
- Emotional distress
The toxic mold lawyers at Schlacter Law in Fort Lauderdale are well-versed in Florida’s landlord-tenant laws and know how to hold negligent landlords accountable for damages after toxic mold exposure. We take the time to understand your situation and address your concerns, using industry experts to investigate your case and ensuring you are fully compensated for the damages you have incurred.
Mold Damage Insurance for Homeowners
Unlike renters, homeowners are often fully responsible for the cost of mold removal and remediation in their home. If the homeowner has a home insurance policy, the mold damage might be covered if the mold was caused by a “covered peril,” including:
- Damage caused by vehicles
- Accidental discharge or overflow of water from plumbing, heating, air conditioners, or household appliances
- Frozen pipes
As a rule of thumb, insurance companies typically cover mold damage that is related to “sudden or accidental” water intrusion. It is also important to note that, even if the initial water damage was sudden or accidental, your policy may require you to address the issue promptly to avoid further damage (including mold growth). Any subsequent damages due to the homeowners’ negligence or lack of care surrounding the initial issue may not be covered by insurance.
Despite being a common issue in Fort Lauderdale, mold damage insurance claims are not always handled properly. An insurance company may claim that your mold damage was caused by a non-covered peril, undervalue the damages to your home, delay your case, or even wrongfully deny your claim. If your mold damage claim has been improperly valued or unfairly delayed or denied, contact the mold damage lawyers at Schlacter Law today. Schlacter Law has been faithfully fighting mold damage claims on behalf of Fort Lauderdale residents for years. We understand how insurance companies use bad-faith tactics to avoid paying out to policyholders, and we have the legal know-how and tenacity to fight back for the coverage you deserve.
- https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm ↩
- https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-10/why-we-always-fight-over-air-conditioning ↩
- https://gyr.fortlauderdale.gov/greener-government/climate-resiliency/floodplain-management/flood-zones-in-fort-lauderdale/flood-zone-designations-flood-maps ↩
- https://www.floridabar.org/public/consumer/tip014/ ↩
- https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5508a1.htm ↩
How We Handle Cases
- Your attorney will aggressively investigate your case. Schlacter Law will compile all necessary evidence needed to maximize the value of your case. Which includes but is not limited to photographs, police reports, security camera footage, witness statements, medical bills and medical records.
- You will remain in constant contact with Schlacter Law about the progression of your case.
- Your attorney will present your case to the insurance company and will attempt to resolve your case before the case goes to court for maximum compensation.
- Your attorney will make every effort possible to resolve the case as quickly as possible for the most amount of money you may be entitled to. You will be actively involved in the negotiation process with your attorney. Schlacter Law understands that this is your one opportunity to get justice for your loss.
- If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, Schlacter Law will be fully prepared to bring your case to court to fight for the justice you deserve.
- At no cost to you, Schlacter Law will hire any experts and professionals needed to maximize your recovery and present your case in the strongest form possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are all molds dangerous to humans?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 100,000 species of mold fungi, with fewer than 500 species described as disease-causing to humans.  The vast majority of household molds are not hazardous to humans, but many still have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens and irritants, and inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reaction to sensitive individuals. While reactions can vary between individuals, some of the most common symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Red eyes
- Skin rash
Who is most at-risk for mold-related illnesses?
People with allergies, immune suppression, or underlying lung diseases may be more sensitive to molds. In addition to the allergy-type symptoms related to mold, these individuals are also at-risk for experiencing:
- Difficulty breathing
- Other respiratory tract irritation
- Fungal infections
When is mold not covered by homeowners insurance?
Mold that is the result of poor or improper home maintenance is not covered by homeowners insurance. Mold is only covered by homeowners insurance when a sudden or accidental “covered peril” caused the mold damage, meaning that if the mold was caused by a long standing issue, it will not be covered. Examples include:
- Mold that forms in your shower due to poor ventilation and you only contact the insurer when it grows unsightly and you are concerned about toxic mold exposure
- Broken shingles on your old roof allow water to leak into the attic insulation, leading to mold
- A leaking pipe under your bathroom sink goes noticed but unaddressed for weeks until mold growing in the area
Fort Lauderdale insurers expect homeowners to perform regular inspections and home maintenance. Additionally, most home insurance companies will not cover mold damage related to flooding, but separate flood insurance may help cover the cost of mold removal. Contact Schlacter Law today for help.