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News10NBC investigates 'nightmare' apartment building

October 19, 2018 06:50 AM

Tenants say the conditions News10NBC exposed inside a local apartment building are nightmarish. 

News10NBC shows you that they're dangerous too. 

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News10NBC was invited into the apartment building by tenants after they say the management didn't listen. After we saw the condition of the building, we enlisted the help of a state certified mold inspector. 

The test results show the fear of the tenants is real. 

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

For a long time, Evans suspected there was mold in her kitchen cabinets and bathroom wall. 

It's pretty obvious there is mold on the basement ceiling directly below her apartment. A large swath of black mold covered a section of the ceiling. 

"It is like a nightmare," she said. "When I went down there, there was water dripping from the electrical. There is black mold. There is white mold. There is pink mold. There is stalactite mold."

Evans and her friend, Dan Noonan, live in Chili Commons Apartments in North Chili. There are 400 units. 

When Evans says the management ignored complaints last spring from her and Noonan, they decided to call News10NBC's Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean.

News10NBC got certified mold expert Britt Bridges to come and test her apartment.

Bridges is the president of Ahold of Mold Environmental. He tested the air quality inside and outside the apartment and took samples from the kitchen. 

But when he went down into the basement, what he saw stopped him in his tracks.  

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

He came back with an industrial respirator. 

In his opinion, no one should be in this basement without one. The only time he took it off was after we asked him to rank how bad the mold is. 

"This would be, on a scale of one to 10, a 10," he said. 

Bridges sent the samples to a certified lab in Virginia. 

Look at the results. 

In the basement, the cancer-causing mold Stachybotrys rated "very heavy." In the kitchen cabinets, the asthma-causing mold Aspergillus rated "very heavy."

The level of that same mold in the air outside was 213. Bridges says it should be the same inside. 

But here are the readings. 

In the living room: 6,453
In the basement: 58,133
In the air ducts: 74,667. 

On Wednesday, we called the apartment management company, Midland Management, and emailed them photos from the basement and the inspection report. 

These are pictures from the basement on Thursday. To see the photos, click here, here and here.

The mold-covered ceiling is cut out. But something still covers the wood above it. 

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 have 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."

After the testing, Evans told News10NBC the results make her feel strangely better. 

"I've been sick for five years, on and off. And to be told that it actually has a reason is making me feel better," Evans said. "Making sure it doesn't happen to anyone else is making me feel better." 

Evans and Noonan say they are moving out this coming weekend. They just bought a home. 

The Monroe County Public Health Department is aware of this situation and so is the Town of Chili. 

The County Health Department tells News10NBC that one other tenant complained about mold to the department this year. 

There were zero complaints last year. 

Credits

Berkeley Brean

Copyright 2018 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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