Construction defects or property damage to a medical building in Seattle presents one of the most difficult challenges for the building owner.
Assuming tenants include doctors, dentists, orthodontists, laboratories, physical therapists, and possibly a pharmacy, here are a few of the issues to consider after someone discovers damage to the building.
Investigating the Damage:
Preserving the Evidence: If you discover damage to the building, your first step is to preserve evidence of the loss. That means you should:
- Is there evidence of mold in the building? If so, the owner will have to hire an industrial hygienist and toxicologist the type and severity of the problem. Is the type of mold one which causes respiratory problems or to which many people have allergies?
- Is there a risk to patient health if the molds are exposed to open wounds, sores, surgeries, or infections?
- Is there a risk of contamination of equipment, medications, and surgical instruments?
- How can the repairs be planned so as not to disrupt the doctors and their patients?
- Can doctors and other medical professionals safely continue their activities, or should they be asked to move out temporarily during repairs?
- When and what do you tell your tenants?
If, as happened in the case of the building shown above, the owner’s damages are much greater than merely the cost of repairing the building.
Such damages might include:
- Moving existing tenants to a new facility
- Paying any increase in rental obligations
- Paying to sanitize equipment and records, including paper files
- Paying for lost patient visits due to cancellations
- Lost rental income while the tenants are in a new facility
If you own or manage a medical building, and you discover evidence of water intrusion, leaks, mold, or other forms of damage, you should move as quickly as possible to find a water intrusion expert, who can trace the source of water damage and then recommend methods to seal off the affected areas.
You will then need a lawyer to advise you on the management of the various liability issues facing you and the repairs to the building. Finding the right lawyer means finding one who has worked through these issues before, as they involve landlord/tenant law, property damage, insurance issues, and construction expertise.