Tales from a Tenant: The Mold Edition

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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 un-professional our “professionally managed” townhouse is, and why I might be breathing in toxins as I write this.

 

On Friday, May 23rd (10 day ago), I decided to do something nice for R while he was stuck at work all day. We had painted our living room back in February, but have been putting off doing the touch-ups needed – so I decided to tackle that project.

When I moved a floor lamp out of the corner, I noticed that the white baseboard had was tinted yellow and clearly had some water damage. I immediately thought that the cats had peed there, but with the way the furniture was, there was no way they could have gotten in there. It didn’t smell like urine; it smelled like wet soil. So, I moved the couch to further investigate and discover MOLD growing up our wall.

The baseboard was already pulling away from the wall slightly (due to the water getting in, I’m sure), so I carefully pulled it forward to see how bad it was. There was a good 4 feet of our living room wall that was all speckled black behind the baseboards and down underneath the floorboards.

I cleaned the mold off the wall (so I could finish painting), but left the rest – both as “evidence” and because there was no way for me to clean it up without damaging the walls and floors. My nice surprise for R was completely ruined, and I was beyond frustrated with the whole situation.

The property management company’s office was closed over the weekend, so we waited until Monday to call. (In hindsight, I should have called the emergency 24 hour maintenance number right away.) No one answered, so I left a voice-mail. I called again on Tuesday and left another message. I called again on Wednesday and left another not-so-nice message, and then promptly turned to Facebook. I was so tempted to post a picture of the moldy wall, but instead I sent them a message – knowing that the page is run by someone from their head office in Toronto. (When we had issues with getting our free cable and internet set up, the local office did nothing. But when I posted a comment on their Facebook page, we got a response within 20 minutes and the cable company called us the next business day.)

Sure enough, within an hour of sending them a Facebook message, the woman from the local office called me back, claiming that she “didn’t get any messages.” (Funny, that’s the excuse I use when I’m screening calls and/or avoiding someone!) A maintenance worker came by about an hour later, took a quick look, and said that although they were really busy getting units ready for people moving in on June 1st, they were taking this seriously and would be in touch.

We heard nothing on Thursday.

Nothing on Friday.

And nothing over the weekend.

Yesterday (a week since I first called, or 5 days since I finally got a response) I still hadn’t heard anything. So I called again. The same woman in the office gave me another half-assed excuse, but said that someone would be out tomorrow morning “sometime after 9 am”. I was pissed that she didn’t bother to tell me this was scheduled, but more so that this violated the Residential Tenancies Act:

“A landlord can enter the rental unit between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., and only if they have given the tenant 24 hours written notice: to make repairs or do work in the unit” (Source)

(I should note that the Tenancies Act also states that “A landlord can enter a tenant’s rental unit without written notice if: there is an emergency such as a fire” – but if they want to claim this is an emergency, why did it take almost a week to address it?)

She also told me that the mold will take 5 days to fix – meaning that for next 5 days we’re going to have strange men coming in and out of our place anytime between 9am and 5pm, who will let themselves in if we’re not home, who will be cutting up our walls, releasing mold spores into the air we breathe, spraying chemicals, etc. We are unable to use about half of our living room because we have to clear everything away from the infected wall, and we have to empty our storage unit so that they can access and assess the mold situation there, too.

When I asked if I should be concerned about our health from breathing this in, she completely dismissed my concerns, saying it’s not harmful. How she can tell that from her office without even seeing a picture of the mold is pretty impressive! (Everyone that we’ve shown pictures to thinks otherwise and is telling us to get the hell out of here!)

Because we have an end unit, I also expressed my concern about all that water running down the side of the building. The downspouts pour all the water off the roof less than a foot from our exterior wall, meaning all that water just sits there… eroding the foundation, and eventually making its way into our living room (because there is no basement or crawl space). But again, she dismissed this concerned, claiming that “the outside had already been sealed” – but unless they re-sealed it sometime over the last week while we were sleeping, this is absolutely not true. The proof is growing out of our floor.

We anticipated flooding, but instead got mold.

Late this morning, 10 days after originally discovering the fuzzy wall behind the couch, we finally had a maintenance worker come in. (However, he was told we had water damage – not mold – because why would the office get it right?) As he started cutting away the drywall, he discovered more mold growing in the opposite corner of our living room, and later found even more in our dining room.

 

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Needless to say, R and I are PISSED about this whole situation. We haven’t even lived here for 6 months and this is the second major issue we’ve had with them (and we’ve had a whole other slew of issues with parking). Once again, we’re being told one thing only for them to backtrack and tell us something different.

Thanks to Google, we began growing more and more concerned about what breathing in this mold was doing to our health and how extensive this repair was going to be. So, we documented every phone call and conversation, have already taken over a hundred photos, brushed up on what our tenants rights are, and took a few mold samples – just in case this does end up in front of the Tenant’s Board or perhaps even a judge.

We thought about contacting the Landlord and Tenant Board at this point, but instead called both the local office (no answer, of course) and the head office – who promptly called us back. The conversation got heated and every issue we’ve had with their company was voiced.

So here we are, sitting in half of our living room, with holes in our wall, exposed insulation, and who knows what in the air, hoping that his professionally managed company starts acting like professionals.

 

Have you ever had to deal with mold issues either in your house or rental unit?

Comment below, or better yet, share your story – I’d love to feature it in an upcoming post. Please contact me for more information, and let’s make this happen!

Like what you see here? Why not read other tenant tales

 

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Amanda

More about Amanda

Amanda is the owner and creator of My Life, I Guess... a personal finance and lifestyle blog that started back in 2013. She strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes and making the most of it.

11 thoughts on “Tales from a Tenant: The Mold Edition

  1. Avatar
    CeCe @Pink Sunshine

    What a mess!!! I’m glad you are doing your own research because who knows where this will go based on the way they run things. That mold looks awful! I hope that the main office stays on the local office and you can get this crap resolves sooner rather then later.

    Reply

  2. Avatar
    Melissa

    Oh my god!!! You need to get out of there… that is NOT safe. Have you thought about trying to get a discount on rent, at least, for all this trouble? You probably have grounds for leaving and not paying any money/losing your deposit. I’m almost sure if you took this to a judge, they would lose.

    I thought some of my tenant stories were scary (and some were), but this takes the cake. I should actually submit some of mine here though… they’re pretty gross too :)

    Reply

  3. Avatar
    Debt Busting Chick

    My best mate is going through this at the moment. Her home is saturated with mould and it’s dangerous because she has a child and they’ve lived there for years. The council tell the land lord and he just paints over it. It’s so unfair.

    Reply

  4. Avatar
    E.M.

    That is absolutely ridiculous. Leasing offices are so inefficient. We had to make three maintenance requests the other week to get our AC fixed, and the “fix” was to leave the door to the unit open. I’m so sorry you guys have to go through this. My last job had a huge mold issue – the building was very old – and they declared it a non-emergency. We worked for the town, and a lot of people put up a fight, but in the end the results somehow came back that it wasn’t anywhere near life-threatening. I’m hoping that’s the case for you :/. I don’t think I’d want to live in that community after this!

    Reply

  5. Avatar
    Sara Hamil @ They Call it Gumption

    That is VILE. I hope something gets sorted out soon. I know that moving isn’t really the preferred option for you guys, especially given your situation right now but dang, you guys deserve better than that!

    Reply

  6. Avatar
    Catherine

    Dude. Get out of there. If you signed a lease break it. Not worth the health risk. Also contact your tenants insurance and see if you have any coverage for legalities.

    Reply

  7. Avatar
    Manda

    OH MY GOD. This is awful. They SHOULD be fronting you hotel room expenses because it doesn’t sound like your unit is in a livable condition. Ick!! Is breaking the lease an option? Because nothing is worth risking your health, and especially not in a situation like this.

    Reply

  8. Avatar
    Deena Dollars

    I wonder if it is worth looking into having a professional unaffiliated with the rental company come to look at the mold and just tell you if the answer is “you guys need to get the hell out of there.” It seems like a complicated problem to sort out on how to proceed overall, but in the meantime, I would feel better if you knew whether it was dangerous for you to be there or not. So sorry you have to go through this; I’ve had sketchy and unresponsive landlords, but nothing this serious. My thoughts are with you!

    Reply

  9. Avatar
    Hayley @ Disease Called Debt

    That sounds very stressful and not exactly a healthy environment to live in! I really hope it gets sorted soon! I’m having a nightmare as a landlord at the moment. Our tenants are really lovely, no doubt about that. They’ve had a couple of problems with our house that we’ve got fixed straightaway, like a leaky toilet and showerscreen. A few days ago though, they phoned us saying that the patio door has ‘broken’, it’s come away from the runners and a piece the size of a paperclip has snapped off. This probably means a new set of runners to make it slide open again. I’m unsure as to where I stand because they ‘broke’ the patio door. Should we be paying to get it fixed or them? It seems unfair to me at least that we should pay for something that they broke! I live in rented accommodation and we’ve broken a few things including a window, that we’ll be replacing before the next inspection. I wouldn’t dream of asking my landlord to cough up if I was the one who broke the door. What do you think?

    Reply

  10. Avatar
    NZ Muse

    Ohhh yes. Most rentals here are cold and damp and uninsulated, so it’s US TENANTS who have to deal with and clean up the inevitable mould. Worst part of moving houses is trying to get rid of every last spore.

    Reply

    1. Amanda
      Amanda

      That’s awful that it’s not the landlord’s responsibility!

      Reply

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