DEAR BARRY: I am renting a home with an option to buy, but there are serious mold problems that have badly affected by health. The mold is caused by a leaking pan at the air conditioner in the attic. Water puddles above the bathroom are causing mold to grow on the ceiling and walls. Two months ago, the landlord painted over the mold and cleared the blockage in the A/C pan, but the leaking has continued, and the mold is coming back.

My doctor says I have "Sick Building Syndrome" and has advised me to move immediately. What do you recommend? –Tracy

DEAR TRACY: If the mold is seriously affecting your health, you should follow your doctor’s advice and get out of that environment. The landlord is apparently not interested in permanent solutions to the problem, so why purchase a home that is giving you so much grief?

If you choose to remain, here is what needs to be done. The cause of the A/C condensate leakage should be determined by a licensed HVAC contractor. If the drain pan is congested, the stoppage should be permanently eliminated.

If the drain piping is not properly installed, the lines should be made to comply with applicable code requirements. If the A/C unit is defective, it should be repaired or replaced.

Masking mold with paint is not an acceptable or conscientious solution. A professional evaluation is needed to determine the types of mold that are present and the extent of the infection. Then the mold should be professionally remediated to ensure that all affected materials are mold-free.

This should be done whether or not you remain at the property. If the landlord is not willing to address this health hazard in a responsible and forthright manner, the situation should be reported to the local health department.

DEAR BARRY: I have 3-year-old house that I purchased from the builder. I recently learned that there is a long crack in the concrete slab floor, and a few cracks are visible in the exterior brick veneer. If I sell the house, I’ll have to disclose this to buyers, and that will reduce the sales value.

The builder is liable for 10 years for any foundation problems, but he has never been very cooperative about warranty issues. Do you think I should fight to have him buy back the house? –Nancy

DEAR NANCY: Cracks in slabs and in brick walls are not always serious in nature. Very often, they are caused by normal building stresses. You should hire a structural engineer to evaluate the cracks and to submit a written report. If the engineer determines that the problem is serious, you should present the report to the builder and request that he repair the problems or rescind the purchase.

If the builder’s response is not favorable, you may need to consult an attorney who specializes in construction defect law.

On the other hand, the engineer may find that the cracks do not indicate a serious problem. If that is the case, you can use the engineering report for disclosure when you sell the home.

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