How to Avoid Buying or Renting a Toxic Home

Example of a moldy home

Don’t let this happen to you!

Are you in the process of looking for a new home to rent or purchase? Before you put your health at stake, make sure the dwelling is not going to be toxic to your health. In this brief post, I’m going to provide you with my top tips to follow to avoid buying or renting a moldy home or apartment. Below is an example of what happens when a mold is concealed in a newly renovated home.

Even “new” or newly renovated homes can be affected

This FOX 5 I-Team story asks how a newly-renovated Fayette County home could have massive amounts of mold and termite damage hidden behind the new drywall. See the article and view the video here.

Top tips to avoid buying or renting a mold filled home

Following these tips can significantly reduce your chances of buying or renting a moldy or toxic home:

1. Check out a home’s sales history.

2. Consider Foreclosure and prolonged vacancy as a potential red flag for lack of maintenance and building defects.

3. Be extremely cautious when purchasing / renting newly renovated homes that have been renovated by third parties with profit motives.

4. Listen to your body! Use your senses in inspecting. Musty smells ALWAYS mean mold nearby.

5. Don’t purchase or rent homes with ‘off’ smells. Air fresheners are a common sign of cover-up of objectionable odors.

6. Note the quality of exterior drainage. Is water easily and positively able to flow away from the home quickly? If water sits next to any type of foundation, that moisture often wicks up into floors, walls and raises humidity levels that feed mold growth.

7. Check flooding history with the local’s jurisdiction and even neighbors before purchasing.

8. Ask for confirmation that all building codes and required inspections have been completed for new and renovated homes. Know that codes are only bare minimum requirements but a good start. Building permit compliance information is a matter of public record available through local building departments.

9. Search through online tools to look for insurance claims in the last five years to see if there have been any water losses. It will also show what insurance paid.

➡️ Learn how to spot building defects before you buy or rent

Cheryl Ciecko is an ALA, LEED AP, Licensed Architect who helps homeowners and building professionals create safe homes through online education to prevent mold, water damage, and poor indoor air quality. 


You can find her video masterclasses, online programs, and education subscription options at .


For detailed answers on your specific situation or building project, schedule your appointment for an individual consultation.




The information contained in this presentation is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe, treat, or cure any disease, ailment or injury to the body. It is not medical advice. FDA regulations prohibit the use of medical claims in conjunction with the sale of any product not approved by the FDA. Statements made herein have not been evaluated by the FDA. 

Any products, techniques, and/or personal usage tips referred to are not suggested as a replacement for proper treatment from a licensed health care professional. I am not a licensed health care professional and the decision to use or not to use any of this information is the sole responsibility of the listener and/or reader. Everyone is an individual with different body types, different blood types, different body chemistries, and it is important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another person.