Friday, December 9, 2011

Rossmoor NJ - Mold Ignored in Senior Communities

Environmental issues can turn a senior’s remaining years, meant to be a time of peace and relax, into a distressing struggle with ongoing illness. With increasing numbers of retired Americans, the risk of this air hazard in senior communities is especially important. 

Individuals with many preexisting health issues, like seniors, need to be aware of the reactions mold spores can trigger. The presence of mold can lead to numerous health impacts on senior residents, including increased allergies, asthma difficulties and even cancer. Because mold spores continually travel throughout the indoor and outdoor air, if a facility has improper ventilation or indoor water leaks, these mold spores can land on these damp spots and reproduce. Furthermore, mold can grow on wood, paper, carpet or even foods. Also, no convenient way exists to rid a home of this threat.

Because of weakened immune systems and an inability to recover quickly, seniors remain at a heightened risk for suffering greatly from mold, making it vital to ensure a senior’s health, happiness and sense of independence.

Small recurring or continuous leaks that are hidden in walls, ceilings or floors present a challenge since mold growth could be extensive before it is detected. Mold can damage or destroy building materials such as the wood or gypsum board in homes.

After selling their beautiful home in Tennessee, my folks moved into Rossmoor retirement Community two years ago to be closer to their kids and remaining family.

They had purchased a home with an enclosed porch. After moving in and noticing a stain on the tile after it rained due to a water leak they called the Association about repairing it.

My folks were told that only the original residence of the ‘Association” was their responsibility and the Mutual was not responsible for any additions.

My folks then hired a roofing contractor to fix and seal the roof. It still leaked and the roofer said it was not the roof; water must be coming from somewhere else. My folks again called the ‘Association Director.’

The Association sent one of their Mutual’s ‘listed contractors’ come and look at it. After looking at it, they were told that it would cost $3200.

The contractor said that the building next door was the cause of the leak. He wanted $1600 to redo the porch roof, and told my folks to pay $1600 to the Association for the repair of the siding. They told my folks, it was because of the porch addition was the reason the siding from the residence next door that caused the leak. The porch is only a 10 x 12; $3200 is a lot of money for a roof that did not need any replacement. My folks did not live there when the porch was added on.

After two years of a leaking every time it rained, nothing was resolved. Being they were told it was their responsibility, my folks finally hired another reputable contractor who repaired the siding of the attached residence that was causing the problem. In repairing the siding they noticed the wood under it was soggy, wet, and rotted. I climbed up into my folk’s attic and was able to push the wood in and out with my finger, as it was so saturated. He mentioned that the wood behind the siding must have been leaking long before the porch addition was added due to the extent of water damage. The contractor repaired the siding and for the last two rains it has not leaked, so it was not the porch roof that was the problem.

The repair was done at a cost considerably lower than the $3200, and my folks submitted the bill to the ‘Association’ to be reimbursed for the repair which was not unreasonable compared to the fee of the Mutual's contractor.

The ‘Association’ said they would sue my folks for touching their property, even though the wood is still rotted underneath, the leak was fixed.

Also, the first ceiling tile I replaced, after I tarred and sealed the roof when they first moved in, had mold on it.

When my dad mentioned the mold, the Association director says she has mold in her closet, she gets it on her shoes and purse, and to just brush it off, it’s no big deal.

My folks are pushing 90, and they should not have to deal with this at this point in their life, all they did was purchase a home and expect that in be in livable condition, or at least have  a pre-existing conditon fixed without the threat of being fined for correcting an ignored problem.

It was at this point that I found out when calling the State Advocate, “Helga”, regarding mold, they said they cannot do anything about mold in the retirement communities because they govern themselves and all retirement communities are the same! If it was a private home and not part of the Association they could do something about it.

Calling Monroe Township Representatives the response wasn’t any better. Monroe Township officials echoed the same sentiments. If you have mold and live in a retirement community, the Association’s laws supersedes the state and local laws on mold.

Basically, anyone who has mold that belongs to a Mutual in any particular Association can mask the problem and sell it to another unsuspecting buyer. By going ahead and taking action to resolve the issue after continued inaction of the ‘Association’, seniors are then told they will be sued.

Whether it is a private residence or a retirement community, mold is a serious health issue. If this were a private residence or business establishment, they would be shut down or told to evacuate the building until the environmental remediation process was completed.

At minimum, either a local or state agency should be able to investigate to see if a potential problem exists. I would like to see our state legislators take action on this issue. How an adult community can sweep a health hazard under the rug even though it affects the health of its residents, wipe their hands clean of any responsibility, and evade state or local jurisdiction, is beyond me.

After several dizzy spells and a waking up with a non-stop nosebleed my Dad was recently discharged from the hospital.  Coincidence?


Anonymous said...


The Mutual Directors are all corrupt, take kickbacks from the Garbage companies, people who fix the sidewalks ,the landscapers and snow removal people,etc My mom was arbitrarily fined by these people and they tried to foreclose on her property, its still going on .

Anonymous said...

People today should be careful when they pick a retirement community. This is one of the most horrible experience I've ever heard. I recently helped my relatives find a great place to stay as well. We chose the retirement communities long island because of the amenities and beautiful condominiums. I suggest that everyone do some research before they make any decisions to prevent this from happening. Your folks don't deserve that kind of treatment.