Iowa tenant sues university over home mold growth

Cliff Missen only lived in a property owned by the University of Iowa for 10 months, but during that time he developed a slew of serious health problems, including headaches, ulcers, fatigue, difficulty breathing and even depression. According to a lawsuit he recently filed with the school, a mold infestation – along with the institution's inability to conduct a mold inspection – caused his symptoms.

Missen is now suing the university for $375,000 in damages after he received a diagnosis from an allergist that mold growth in the home was likely responsible for his symptoms. Missen claims that 50 square feet of mold had grown throughout the home's basement, but the property owners did not intervene.

"There's something really wrong about what they did," Missen told eastern Iowa news source The Gazette. "Decent people would have sat down and said, 'We made a mistake, I'm sorry, let's fix it.' That's exactly what I wanted."

A home mold inspection may have allowed the university to avoid potentially costly litigation and may have prevented Missen from developing the health problems he claimed to have suffered as a result.

During this time of year in many parts of the country, including the Tri-State area, heavy spring rains can cause the water table to become supersaturated, which could produce localized flooding. When water is able to seep into basements – even when the volume is not significant – mold spores can begin to grow. Most basements are not adequately ventilated and are already moist from being underground, which provides mold with an ideal environment in which to grow.

To avoid having to suffer through symptoms related to mold growth, homeowners may want to work with a Washington, D.C. home inspector to ensure their living environments are safe. At that point, an inspector may recommend operating a dehumidifier to better control moisture, or perhaps even more extensive practices like a mold cleanup if conditions have already deteriorated.