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A report published in Feb. 2019 highlighted the terrible conditions some families endure in military housing in the United States. The survey came as no surprise to the attorneys at the Smith Law Center who have represented many people who fell sick due to toxic mold exposure in military housing.

The survey published by the Military Family Advisory Network found that more than half of respondents who lived in privatized military housing over three years reported negative experiences.

Mold in military housing caused serious health problems to the residents of these units. The report noted numerous emergency room visits by children and other residents who suffered the ill effects of toxic mold.

The report from the Military and Family Advisory Network followed an online survey. The network received 16,000 responses from military families across the United States. About 56 percent of those surveyed reported base housing living conditions as “negative” or “very negative.”

The report contains the following alarming conclusions:

  • Families across all branches of the military live in dangerous situations. The issues they face include toxic black mold, faulty wiring, lead paint, bad water quality, vermin, and other wildlife, and hazardous pesticides.
  • Families routinely report illnesses with life-long implications caused by bad housing conditions.
  • Their calls for help are often ignored by housing companies.
  • Families said housing company representatives and sometimes military command try to silence their complaints. Several said they received threats and fear retribution.

Military Families Report Serious Health Issues from Mold

A report on CNBC noted when 2nd Lt. Lance Konzen received his first military assignment, he moved into military housing on his base at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas.

The Konzens were unaware mold was growing in the vents of their new home. Their daughter Megan suffered from respiratory problems and visited the emergency room on numerous occasions.  The family said the private company managing their home failed to provide maintenance or to clean the home thoroughly after they reported the mold.

CBS News reported the horrendous conditions faced by Josh and Lacy Saindon who have lived in a house at Ft. Meade in Maryland for more than two years. The Air Force pays a basic housing allowance of $2,200 a month directly to Corvias Military Living, a contractor, CBS reported,

From the beginning, appliances started breaking down. The family noted siding warping on their eight-year-old house. They suspected mold was growing on the floor and affecting their children’s health. Their kids suffered frequent sinus infections, colds, and ear infections.

Navy wife Shannon Raszadin, collected more than 7,000 complaints through the Military Family Advisory Network.

She said military tenants complained of black mold, rats, lead paint, roaches, and bats.

Legislators Investigate Mold in Military Housing

The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing in February to investigate issues with the controversial military housing privatization program. More than 200,000 homes nationwide are managed by private contractors on military bases.

The Pentagon pays about $4 billion every year in rent to private housing contractors who manage properties service personnel live in, according to Reuters.

Many of these homes are in a poor state of repair, legislators heard.

Lawmakers criticized military officials for their lack of oversight over military housing and a gap in accountability about the problem.

What Are The Effects of Toxic Mold on Health?

Toxic mold can have a very serious impact on human health. Because the symptoms are wide-ranging and similar to other condition, people often fail to realize the mold spores caused their illness. The effects of toxic mold include:

  1. Poor memory and issues with speech;
  2. Concentration problems;
  3. Respiratory problems and shortness of breath;
  4. Constant temperature changes;
  5. Chronic coughs and sinus congestion;
  6. Night sweats;
  7. Mood swings;
  8. Dizziness;
  9. A metallic taste in the mouth.

Hampton Roads has a large military population. Many military families live in properties in a poor state of repair managed by private companies. It’s a scandal that people who serve their country should be treated in this manner.

Toxic mold and lead paint are extremely dangerous for children. Exposure to these hazards can cause life-long health issues. Under Virginia law, families have the right to be protected from mold and lead paint.

What is the Right to be Protected from Toxic Mold Under Virginia Law?

Landlords must disclose the presence of mold in their units.  Under Virginia code, the landlord must disclose visible evidence of mold during a move-in inspection as required by § 55-248.11:1.

The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act requires landlords to remove mold from homes in accordance with professional standards and to relocate tenants into a mold-free living space until all mold has been removed at no cost to the tenant.

Your Rights if You Have Been Harmed by Toxic Mold in Virginia

If you or a family member has been harmed by toxic mold, you may have grounds to sue a landlord or a property company. These cases are complicated and you should talk to a lawyer with a history of handling these cases.

Mold in military housing is a serious issue. At the Smith Law Center, we have represented military families who were harmed by toxic mold in lawsuits. Please call us today at (757) 244-7000.

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If you or a relative had a severe reaction to military housing mold, it might be time to talk with a toxic mold lawyer. Mold is everywhere, and can be dangerous. Researchers have linked mold to serious respiratory illnesses in some individuals.

Smith Law Center may be able to help if a property owner failed to keep you safe from mold in your military housing. We are one of Virginia’s oldest and most successful firms. We know how to hold negligent property owners responsible, especially when the military is involved.

Call us at (757) 244-700 or contact us online to set up a free consultation. There’s no fee for learning more about Virginia mold laws, your rights, and your legal options.

Mold in Military Housing

Black mold in military housing became widely known when Reuters published an investigation in 2018. Since then, the Department of Defense and the housing providers were supposed to take steps to improve the situation.

Unfortunately, a 2020 audit by the DoD Office of Inspector General found many issues, including the need for mold remediation, still persist.

Monetary Awards in Military Housing Toxic Mold Cases

If the property owner lets toxic mold run wild and continue to cause you harm, talk with our toxic mold attorneys about filing a lawsuit.

You may receive financial compensation for:

Service members and their families do not receive different types of damages than civilians. These are civil lawsuits in traditional courts of law.

Military Housing Mold Toxicity Symptoms

The Institute of Medicine discovered there was evidence connecting exposure to indoor mold with:

  • Upper respiratory tract symptoms;
  • Coughing;
  • Wheezing;
  • Asthma symptoms in individuals with asthma; and
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals with weak immune systems.

There is also limited evidence that mold causes respiratory illnesses in healthy children or causes people to develop asthma.

Understanding Exposure to Toxic Mold in Military Housing

The topic of toxic mold is complicated. This Is in part because the term “toxic mold” isn’t accurate. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains mold isn’t toxic or poisonous. However, some molds are toxigenic, which means they produce toxins called mycotoxins.

Mold is common in military housing because it’ll grow anywhere there’s moisture. That includes on and inside walls, carpet, upholstery, wallpaper, and heating and air conditioning systems. This is especially pronounced in humid conditions such as those present in Virginia.

Some people have no difficulties around mold, even large infestations in their homes. Other individuals are sensitive to molds, including those that produce mycotoxins. Someone can have a severe reaction when exposed to a large amount of mold indoors.

People may be more likely to experience mold toxicity symptoms if they have:

  • Allergies,
  • An underlying lung disease,
  • Immune suppression,
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder,
  • Asthma, or
  • Another chronic respiratory disease.

Common Types of Military Housing Mold

When you’re trying to learn more from the CDC and other resources, you’ll see the word “fungus” a lot. Mold is a type of fungus, which is something that exists all around us. Fungi are living organisms different from animals, plants, and bacteria. There are over 200,000 types of fungi and over 100,000 types of molds.

If you discovered mold in your military housing, it could be Cladosporium, Penicillium, Stachybotrys chartarum, Aspergillus, or many other types. Stachybotrys is what everyone knows as black mold. Aspergillus is a common indoor fungus, which releases mycotoxins and can cause illness. Your symptoms may resemble common allergy or asthma symptoms.

Who is Liable for Military Housing Mold?

Since 1996, most military housing has come under the management of private companies:

  • Belfour Beatty Communities: Fort Eustis and Fort Story/li>
  • Lincoln Military Housing: Dahlgren, Little Creek, Naval Station Norfolk, Northwest Annex, Oceana, Portsmouth, Quantico, and Yorktown/li>
  • Hunt Military Communities: Fort Lee and Langley AFB

Outside of Virginia, Lendlease and Corvias Military Living are two more housing providers. Together, these five companies formed the Military Housing Association.

Military families living in on-base housing must take their complaints to their private management company — not the military. The company is responsible for providing habitable conditions and making repairs, including mold remediation.

If you’re unsure about your rights, review your state law and local ordinances about mold. In general, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to provide a habitable unit, which means it has to be safe to live in. A unit isn’t safe if it’s causing a tenant health issues due to mold.

The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act requires landlords to disclose if there’s mold in the written report of the move-in inspection. If a tenant discovers visible mold in the unit, then the Act requires the landlord to remove the mold and relocate the tenant until it’s gone at no additional cost to the tenant.

Unfortunately, many families find their housing providers aren’t receptive to complaints. Attorney Stephen M. Smith has handled many mold lawsuits against military housing providers who fail to abide by their lease terms and the law when it comes to mold remediation and other hazards.

Other Hazards in Military Housing

Many service members and their families deal with uncomfortable, if not hazardous, conditions in privatized military housing, including:

Lead Paint: Lead-based paint can cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, irritability, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures, organ damage, and in extreme cases, death.

Asbestos: Exposure to asbestos harms a person’s lungs, and can lead to lung fibrosis (scarring), lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

Radon: Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. It naturally forms underground, however cracks and gaps in buildings lead to over-exposure indoors.

Poor Water Quality: Dozens of military sites have water with detectable levels of harmful chemicals.

Other issues involve rodent or insect infestations, pesticides, and faulty electrical wiring.

What Happens When a Lot of People Get Sick?

Sometimes mold exposure impacts a single individual or family. However, when the mold spreads throughout military housing, it can impact hundreds or thousands of people.

Occasionally, a large enough group of people are injured to allow for a class action or mass tort lawsuit. A class action lawsuit is one where a class representative acts as the plaintiff on behalf of the group of hurt individuals. Not every victim participates in the lawsuit. There are rules about when a group is big and similar enough to create a class action.

Mass tort lawsuits are different. When there are fewer plaintiffs who have their own set of circumstances, each person files a lawsuit. For efficiency’s sake, one or a couple of law firms may represent most plaintiffs, and the lawsuits are consolidated in a federal court.

Call the Military Housing Mold Lawyers at Smith Law Center for Help Right Away

Mold cases come about in a few ways. You or a loved one may start getting sick, and after weeks or months of struggling to find answers, you finally realize your military housing has a mold infestation. In other cases, you struggle with visible mold and then become ill.

Once you connect the illness with the mold, it’s time to talk with a toxic mold lawyer. Reaching out to an attorney early helps you build a strong compensation claim. We know how to collect evidence, identify who is liable, and craft a successful argument for a settlement or court award.

Attorney Stephen M. Smith has decades of experience handling injury claims and has been internationally recognized for his work. He has litigated cases involving catastrophic injuries and complex legal and scientific issues. In 2019, he was inducted into the Virginia Lawyers Hall of Fame.

You’re in good hands when you come to Smith Law Center for help. Reach out online or call (757) 244-7000 to schedule your 100% free consultation.

Military Housing Mold Lawsuits: FAQs

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