Mold growth can happen anywhere, regardless of climate. Mold thrives off of the things that we eat and the materials that we use to build our shelters, and while some locations have more mold issues than others, all of the backlash is the same. We recently found a story that we are sure hits close to home for many renters in the Philadelphia area. This story, though set in a completely different part of the nation, Louisiana specifically, is a great example of some of the horrors that renters in any area can experience. There are so many cases just like this one that we run into in this area alone that we just had to share.

If you were to walk in to the apartment of Marthaclayvette Smith, you would say that both the inside and the outside of the apartment are fairly nice. This Algiers, LA complex looks well kept and clean, but Smith says it is what is lurking inside the walls that has her concerned for her family’s health and safety.

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Smith, a single mother of two little girls, started to panic when she found out mold was growing inside her walls. Her apartment complex’s way of dealing with the issue is to just patch over the moldy spots that she finds, but the mold growth is spreading throughout her apartment quickly and is starting to overtake light fixtures and her entire utility room.

“I am afraid to touch it because I don’t know if something might spark, you know,” said Smith. “Anything with water and electricity is scary.” And Smith is absolutely right, water and electricity can be dangerous. It is best to call in professional help, but in her case,  her hands are tied as she is not in control of maintenance in her apartment. The apartment complex management is not sensitive to her concerns.

In the four years Smith has lived at Holly Park Apartments in Algiers, her house has flooded three different times. Each time she has contacted the management at the apartment complex to come fix the surface damage, as soon as the small area is “taken care of” by maintenance, she finds more mold growth.

“I guarantee that if I lift up my carpet right now, it’s going to be full of mold,” says Smith. “It’s going to be full of mold and that’s the carpet my daughters walk on everyday.”

The most recent flood in the apartment complex, which seems to be a common problem for this property, left two to three inches of standing water throughout Smith’s apartment. The management claims this particular flood was caused by a sewage back up that happened in one of the neighboring apartments, which is unfortunate, unsettling and unhealthy considering sewage contains bacteria and some nasty pathogens. When Smith asked to have her carpet replaced due to the flooding, she was denied and told that she was not approved for a replacement.

Smith is at her wits end with trying to get her apartment repaired. She, just like any parent, does not want to raise her little girls in an unsafe, unsanitary environment, but it looks like until her lease is up with the complex, she may not have a choice. She is bound to that community for at least a year, which means that her and her family are exposed to mold growth for at least that long, potentially damaging their health and overall well being.

Doing further research on this particular case shows that this apartment complex has had many issues before, and suffers from a generally negative reputation. According to Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the apartment complex had a failing housing score of 30 just before HUD foreclosed on the property in 2008 and sold it to the current owner, Republic Housing LLC.

Unfortunately, cases like this are very common, no matter where you live, and for mothers and families like Smith’s, mold growth may be something that cannot be fixed right away, no matter how hard you try. Renting a home denies the resident of certain rights, so unless renting from an individual or a reputable company, it can be very easy for anyone to enter a situation like this.

How do you avoid a situation like Smith’s?

First and foremost, do your research. Sometimes the best way to avoid terrible living situations is to not enter them at all, as easy as that sounds. Always look for reviews on the complex/company that you are renting from. Those who have come before you and had issues are usually always willing to share their experiences, negative and positive, to help prevent or encourage the same things from happening to other families. There are lots of sites out there dedicated solely to the rating and review of apartments and landlords, so take a look before you sign the lease. This can help you avoid a seriously annoying and unhealthy mold growth issue in the future.

If you find yourself in a situation like this, there are a few things that you can do to help take care of the mold yourself. If you have the means, call in a professional. A mold inspector can help you find the cause and take care of as much as he or she can in an apartment complex where there must be approval for all repairs. If you do not have the means, there are many ways that you can take care of mold growth yourself. Check out some of these DIY tips on mold removal.  Combining these with keeping your home as dry as possible will help you keep the mold growth at bay until you can move out and start fresh.

Like we said, it is unfortunately very common for renters and families to be in situations like this with the communities that they live in, but trying to be proactive about mold growth and reporting repairs will hopefully keep the mold growth to a minimum. If it is bad enough, there are legal steps that you can take to protect yourself. Talk to a lawyer about your rights.

Are you currently living in conditions that are similar to Smith’s? Do you have a landlord who just won’t repair your home or get rid of your mold problem? Tell us your story. We would love to share it on our blog as well as help you in anyway that we can to get rid of the mold growth in your home.