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Second Appeal Brief
PA ID# 000-UKTGB-00; Washington State Department of Social and Health Services
PW ID# 904; Mold Remediation
Citation: FEMA-1361-DR-WA; Washington State Department of Social and Health Services; PW 904 Town Square Complex, Building 6
Cross-reference: Legal Responsibility; Disaster-Related Damage
Summary: As a result of the Nisqually Earthquake, a water pipe broke in Building 6 of the Town Square Complex in Olympia, Washington, damaging equipment, supplies, and furniture, as well as carpeting and ceiling tiles within the Applicants leased space. The landlord repaired the pipe break and attempted to dry the building. After mold spores were later detected within the office space and air quality issues were raised, the Applicant requested assistance for cleaning of their contents and other related efforts at a cost of $691,124. FEMA reviewed the request, and the terms of the lease agreement with the building owner, and concluded that the requested scope of work was not eligible for FEMA assistance. This determination was based primarily on the conclusion that (1) the presence of mold spores were not a direct result of the disaster, but rather the landlords failure to properly clean and dry the saturated carpets and ceiling tiles, and (2) the lease agreement states that the building owner is responsible for building maintenance such that the cleaning efforts are not the legal responsibility of the Applicant. The Applicants first appeal asserts that the mold spores are a direct result of the event, and that the requested work relates solely to the Applicants contents such that the cleaning is not the landlords responsibility but their own. The Regional Director denied the first appeal stating that the mold is the result of dampness that remained for a period of time and is considered a secondary effect separate from the declared event by a period of time. Also, the work is not the legal responsibility of the Applicant. Rather, it is the legal responsibility of the building owner. The Applicants second appeal again challenges the issue of legal responsibility for the work.
Issues: (1) Is the presence of mold spores a direct result of the disaster?(2) Is the Applicant legally responsible to remediate the mold condition?
Findings: (1) No. The mold spores are a secondary effect of the disaster. (2) No. The work performed is consistent with the landlords contractual responsibility to keep the premises in good repair and tenantable condition, and for maintaining indoor air quality.
Rationale: 44 CFR 206.223. To be eligible for assistance, an item of work must be a direct result of the disaster and the legal responsibility of an eligible Applicant.