Tales from a Tenant is a series featured here on My Life, I Guess… that chronicles the ups and downs of being a tenant. If you are interested in contributing your tenant (or landlord) tales, please contact me. I’d love to share!
Today’s post is yet another tale by yours truly about how our “professionally managed” townhouse landlords left us, once again, with half a living room when the mold they “fixed” back in June returned – just as we predicted.
Way back on May 23rd, I discovered mold growing out our living room floor and up our walls. It took over a week for our landlord to send maintenance people out to even look at the issue, who then discovered that mold was growing in two other places as well. It took a week – and a heated phone call to the head office – in order to get the drywall cut-out, replaced, and repainted. A week of strange men coming in and out of our home. A week of breathing in exposed mold spores. A week of living with almost half of our main floor under renovation. A week of stress and frustration.
But because nothing at all was actually done to stop the water/mold from getting into our place, less than 10 days after the issue was “fixed”, there was new evidence that water was still getting in. The laminate floorboards were soft and bubbling up in the exact same spot the first mold was found.
Having learned my lesson the first time, I called our local office right away. The maintenance guy who did most of the work the first time (let’s call him Larry) came by that day and confirmed that yup – there was still water coming in – and he suspected that it was a structural issue. But head office wouldn’t let him do anything but spend a few bucks to extend the downspouts so that the water wasn’t pooling directly beside our outside wall.
So we waited for the mold to inevitably return as well. And it did less than a month later.
On July 15th, I called the local office to tell them that the brand new white baseboards they had installed were now speckled with tiny green dots of mold.
The previous maintenance supervisor had quit (can’t say I blame him!) so a brand new guy (let’s call him Tom) was sent over. I explained to him everything that had previously been done. Tom was very eager and clearly hadn’t dealt with the head office much, because he basically promised us the moon, stating they’d do it “properly” this time, seal everything and replace our damaged floors.
A week passed before we heard anything… and when we did, we were told it’d be yet another week before the maintenance people could start. (It truly was/is the summer of waiting!)
When the work for “Mold Round 2” actually began on July 29, they cut out the same piece of drywall on the inside and told us they’d seal the entire outside wall by painting it with this blue waterproofing rubber membrane stuff – but of course, head office wasn’t going to spend the money to actually fix the problem, and we were given a band-aid. Instead of sealing the whole wall like they need to and we were promised, all Tom was allowed to do was place a line of caulking across a joint.
Two days had passed and no one had been by to continue the work. So I called the local office and was told that they were waiting to ensure that line of caulking had actually sealed the outside before they did any more work. (Why didn’t anyone tell us this?) We spent the August long-weekend with half a living room.
When maintenance started up again the following Tuesday, no one came by on Thursday or Friday for reasons unknown – meaning we spent yet another “long-weekend” with half a living room.
The following week (a.k.a. less than a week since the new drywall went up) we were told off the record that there was already signs of water damage to the brand new drywall. The mudding and painting were finally finished, but they still hadn’t done anything about replacing the floors. We obviously wanted it done right away, but were told we’d have to wait until the following Monday. Meaning we had to spend a third “long-weekend” in a row with half a living room.
Finally, on August 18th, R and I got up at 8am and moved every single thing from our living room into our kitchen tetris-style, so that they could replace the floors. We were both home all day, so we got to fully experience the cluster-f*ck that ensued. It took Tom and this obviously inexperienced kid (let’s call him Joe) about half hour to pull up the old floor boards – but then nothing else happened for hours because Joe was left by himself. Between this and the seemingly never-ending smoke breaks, they scrambled to “finish” the floors before 5pm. We were left with gaps in the flooring (around the vents, the hall closet and the front door) and several damaged baseboards (including the water-damaged ones that they put back up instead of replaced). They promised to return in the morning to do the touch-ups needed (including repairing the paint they damaged when pulling off the baseboards) but guess what? No one came back…
… Until I called the local office 2 days later. They sent Paul over to touch-up the paint, but he was not told anything about fixing the gaps in the floors or the baseboards. He was embarrassed over the work that was done and said he’d talk to the head office on our behalf to see what, if anything, could be done. It’s a good thing I didn’t hold my breath, because we didn’t hear anything back.
A week later, we spoke to Larry who had been told about shoddy work by Paul. We told him all the details and he too was shaking his head at what a joke this whole month-long ordeal had been – and he confirmed that the head office wasn’t going to do a damn thing about it.
To Recap Our Mold Story, Thus Far:
The first time we had mold, it took them over a week to send someone over and another week to do all of the maintenance work, for a total of about 2.5 weeks. But nothing was done to address the issue.
10 days later, there was obvious (new) water damage to our floors. We were given a “band-aid” to address the issue.
Less than a month later, the mold had returned. It took them 2 weeks to send a maintenance worker over and another 4.5 weeks for the maintenance work to be done, for a total of 6.5 weeks. We did get new floors, but the shoddy work left our living room looking worse off than it was before. (P.S. This was all happening at the same time we were dealing with not one but two health issues with our cats.)
So Now What?
We know that it’s just a matter of time before we start seeing water damage and/or mold back inside our place again. I’m torn as to what I’m going to do when that happens.
Part of me wants to just deal with it myself so that we don’t go weeks and weeks with our living room undergoing maintenance. Especially knowing that nothing will be done to actually stop the water/mold from getting inside, and there’s a good chance that we’ll be left with more of a disaster.
The other part of me wants to call a lawyer, a health inspector, and the landlord-tenant board, and take management down! I want to sue them or do whatever it takes to break our lease and get the hell out of here – all while exposing their slumlord ways.
Obviously we’d love to just get the hell out of here, but unfortunately, it’s not looking too promising. We anticipate we’ll be stuck here for at least another year, as we save up to buy our own place next summer.
What would you do if you were in my shoes? Would you accept the situation for what it is and just learn to cope with it? Or would you do everything you can to fight it?
Do you have a nightmare tenant tale of our own? You could be featured here in an upcoming post! Please contact me for more information and let’s make this happen!