News10NBC investigates 'nightmare' apartment building

October 18, 2018 07:07 PM

The living condition inside an apartment building in a Rochester suburb is like a nightmare. That's the language of the tenants. 

And they say when management ignored their complaints about mold, they called News10NBC. 

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Now, because of our investigation, the Monroe County Public Health Department is looking into this and the apartment management is scrambling to fix it. 

News10NBC went into the apartment at Chili Commons Apartments in late September. 

The basement ceiling and walls were covered in black mold. Some of it was so thick it was growing like stalactites in a cave. The pipes leaked and dripped into a styrofoam cooler. 

And all of this is directly underneath the apartment of Shari Evans. 

"I got scared," Evans said. "I'm not a drama queen. I really thought I was going to die."

Evans says when she returned from vacation in September, she got sick and her face swelled. 

She believes it was a reaction to something in her apartment. She blames mold and she showed News10NBC what she considers the hot spots -- the cabinets in the kitchen and the bathroom walls. 

She thinks the mold is creeping up from the basement. Evans says she and her roommate, Dan Noonan, complained about the mold to the apartment manager last May. 

"[The manager] looked at me with surprise and she said 'there's mold in the wall?'" Noonan said. "And I said, 'there's a lot of mold in the wall.'"

Evans says when management ignored their complaints they decided to move out. But before they did, they contacted News10NBC.

"We're moving. And I just wanted to move," Evans said. "But I can't move knowing that I'm leaving this behind and someone else is going to react to it."

After News10NBC spoke to Evans and Noonan, we enlisted the help of a mold expert. 

Britt Bridges owns Ahold of Mold Environmental and he's licensed by the New York State Department of Labor. 

Bridges tested the air quality in and outside of the apartment and took samples from the cabinets. But when he walked down into the basement, he was stopped in his tracks. 

"Oh! Yeah. Let me grab a respirator," Bridges said. 

That's where families do their laundry, and he wouldn't go down there without a mask. 

Tonight at 11 p.m. on News10NBC, we reveal the results of the mold inspection. The numbers show the fear that tenants have is real. 

Below is the full statement from Midland Management LLC President Jeff Levinson, the company that operates Chili Commons Apartments. 

"Mr. Noonan has been a good tenant at Chili Commons since July 1, 2009.  He has been there during our renovations in 2012 when we replaced old furnaces with 95 percent high efficiency furnaces and 13 SEER air conditioners in order to save residents money on their gas and electric bills.  We also replaced the entryway doors and installed new intercom systems.

Every year we paint buildings, repair driveways, and do roofing to keep the property in top notch condition.  With 39 buildings over 40 acres we always have challenges and try to keep up with all maintenance needs.  This basement area seems to have not had all of its issues addressed.

There was a hot water pipe leak in a crawl space on Sept. 18 that was called in by Mr. Noonan.  We wrapped the pipe that night to stop the spray and made a complete repair in the morning.  We then ran our commercial dehumidifier for a few days to dry it out.  There has obviously been other leaks that have occurred in the basement.  We have replaced stems and diverters in Mr. Noonan's apartment earlier this year.  

There may still be a small leak in the tub plumbing from his apartment that can be seen in the basement.  We have not ignored the issue but definitely needed to do more, which we are now in the process of doing.

Mold is always present in the environment.  All it needs is organic material and humidity for it to grow.  Mold in bathrooms is common and usually caused by the bath fan not being run long enough.  Simple housekeeping by residents can keep it in check.  

Some apartments do have higher humidity levels where mold may grow.  Running the air conditioner or a dehumidifier may help this.
Mr. Noonan has been on a month to month lease with us since July.  

On Sept. 12, he gave us the required notice that he would be leaving on Oct. 29 and appreciated the services we have provided. On Sept. 24, he rescinded that notice and wanted an extension till Nov. 30.  Today [ Oct. 18 ] he sent us a message that he is moving out today and does not want maintenance in his apartment. He has also not paid October rent after an impeccable payment history for over nine years....We have started to clean up the basement and will be engaging the services of a mold abatement contractor."


Berkeley Brean

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