Mold Was the Case That They Gave Me

Mold Was the Case That They Gave ME

(Originally published on Facebook August 14, 2014 at 6:44pm but wanted to add it to this WordPress blog)

I’m just recovering from a month-long plight with mold in my son’s room, and the following letter is to the management of our apartment complex to get compensation for damages.  Wish us luck!

Management                                                                                                                                             08/14/2014

Arbor Ridge Apartments

4407 Oakhollow Dr,

Sacramento, CA 95842

Dear Management of Arbor Ridge,

This letter represents a formal request for compensation in the form of leniency from our current amount due for rent or a reasonable negotiable amount, in respect to the mold situation of 4407 Oakhollow Drive, Apt. 87.  We believe that it is the responsibility of the landlord to maintain a standard livability in their tenants’ dwellings and not to expect the tenant to rely on renter’s insurance or the tenant’s own expenses and resources to rectify problems that arise due to the fault or negligence of the property owner.   We believe that this can be resolved easily between us and the Arbor Ridge management/Lynd and Property Solutions International, Inc., without persuasion or litigation, because we like it here and have always been on good terms with the office staff and management and wish to continue our relationship, and because it’s the proper and moral thing to do.

Here is a rundown of facts regarding the situation:

-The problem first arose in the latter part of 2012, when we reported coffee-colored, salad bowl-sized stains on the ceiling of my son’s bedroom (the second bedroom) and the maintenance of the complex dismissed it upon inspection as not to be a problem, therefore we thought it wasn’t a problem.

Before the moldBefore the mold

-On July 19th, while I was recuperating from a hospital adventure after my appendix burst, I happened to look up at the ceiling and see about a dozen spots of greenish/black mold, and we immediately telephoned the apartment maintenance and placed an emergency request. The problem description of that order, created by Daneeka Rodney, was “There is mildews in the second bedroom ceiling and there is more spots coming…”  And we were advised that maintenance would be there first thing Monday.  Over the course of the weekend, our internet research about mold and particularly mold in rental dwellings, combined with Facebook friend feedback concerning the subject, made us panic about what to do.

Mold!Mold!

-On Monday, maintenance never came. We spoke to the office, and they stated they were low on maintenance personnel, and someone would look at it tomorrow.  That night, I decided to clear the wall area below it where I hung packaged collectible action figures, and when I removed them, I discovered mold build-up coming out of the paint behind each one and attached to the backsides of the packages.  I removed everything from the walls on that side of the room and placed them outside in the patio.  We panicked over that, and once again we returned to the internet and began to contact lawyers for fear of what we were seeing and what we were being told.

-On Tuesday, July 22, maintenance never came.  Later that morning, we opened the closet door of the room and found to our shock that half of the closet ceiling had collapsed, showering half of the closet contents with water and water-soaked broken drywall and wood covered in deep black and grey mold spots.  My son’s toys occupied the opposite half of the closet and only a small amount was damaged; however, I run a book publishing business from the apartment and store all of my convention materials in that closet, and half of everything was ruined—items I make a living off of,sign and sell, posters, banners, signage, banner stands, boxes of promotional materials, all soaking wet with water and mold. Right away, we both went to the office to report that the mold situation was much worse.  The office assistant we spoke to said to us “It’s got to be mildew. We don’t get mold” and told us maintenance would get to it right away after their other priorities.  We asked if someone would come in to test whether it was mold, and the person explained that they don’t have people who do that. We began to move things out of the room in an effort to save them.

-On Wed, July 23, I received an email from maintenance stating that our maintenance case was closed! But then a group of 3 or 4 maintenance workers came.  They explained to us how they didn’t see why this had been overlooked for so long, and that the mold and deterioration had to have been present and building up long before I noticed it.  They instructed us to vacate the room of everything in it we wanted to keep, take photos of everything damaged, and to try and stay out of the room while they figure out how they were going to handle the situation.  For the rest of the day, we filled our livingroom and master bedroom with everything salvageable, our patio with damaged belongings we tried to save, and the area outside our front door with moldy furniture and piles of what we could not salvage.  For just under the next four weeks, our apartment was overwhelmed with furniture and boxes and everything else that was in that room, which made it difficult to function and get around.

Mold!Mold!

-The next day, maintenance stopped by to collect the fallen ceiling pieces into a plastic bag, and I retained a few sample in plastic bags.  During this, a management team had arrived,not for us, but for a violent dispute between the tenants next door.  They decided while they were there to inspect what we were talking about regarding the mold, and did so.  I don’t believe they would have ever personally inspected it had they not been next door in happenstance.    I would think any mention of mold would send any landlord running to inspect the situation for themselves at the start.

-Throughout the course of the next couple of days, after we requested to review any option of relocation to another apartment, the office offered what they said was the only similar apartment available.  We turned it down because it was smaller and located in a rundown part of the complex with graffiti on the property and railroad tracks nearby.  I appealed to the manager that it was within everyone’s interests to hire a certified tester for the mold, and she explained that they don’t normally do that and said that any renter’s insurance I may have should cover the situation.  But I don’t have renter’s insurance.

During this, we telephoned my 9-year-old’s mother about the situation,because he was supposed to spend the weekend and he had no room.  She informed me that my son went through vomiting spells every time he’d come home from staying with me, and we started fearing that the mold in his room could be the reason.  This speculation made us panic even more, and added to our frustrations. For four weeks until the room was declared safe I couldn’t have him visit me.

Mold!Mold!

Right after that, I received a Pay or Quit notice for back rent due,and we went to the office to inquire about it, hoping that especially in light of the situation they’d be able accommodate us. I found myself in a confrontation with the regional manager who explained that they had tended to the matter with due diligence, and that she didn’t appreciate my threats.  I had said that I’d involve the news if this wasn’t taken care of, but in actuality the local television show Good Day Sacramento was supposed to have a crew over at the apartment during that time period to so a segment with myself and my publishing company  on their show.  We were already on their show a few weeks prior for a different segment.  By that time, the circumstances were making me upset and I had a good mind to do the segment anyway, and get the moldy apartment to be a part of the story in spite of it.  As of the date of this letter,the segment’s on indefinite hold.

They then did hire a certified independent tester.  Rather than test it, he told us upon inspecting it that it was indeed mold and he didn’t need testing to tell him that.  During the few weeks that he was there off and on, he would set up humidifiers and cover the room and door with plastic sheeting, and for the greater part of that time we were not allowed inside, and the stale smell infiltrated the whole apartment.  They then did a test when they thought the room was clear of mold, which was inconclusive, so they had to do it all over again. During this stretch of time, the maintenance workers have been thoroughly courteous, as was the certified tester, and in conversation all agree that this has certainly been an ordeal for us and that the complex would be right to cut us a break for it.

As of the date of this letter, the room has been at last declared free of mold, and maintenance is 99% complete with a restoration of the ceiling and the inside of the closet.  One final paint job and they’re through.

At the beginning of all of this when I first noticed the mold, I had no idea what was in store.  Between the office at first seeming that they didn’t take this seriously, to those from which we sought advice taking the situation way too seriously, it was a nightmare just trying to figure out what to do. Neighbors above and next to us started complaining about their own mold and talking lawsuits, which I had first believed and figured this issue was even larger than it was, until I realized they were just making up reasons to jump on board and sue somebody.   At the tail end of this I find myself with a better education concerning mold, loss of important business and business supplies and a timely TV show segment which impeded certain abilities to help pay rent (because that’s my only source of income), having to live just under a month minus a room and the rest of the apartment looking like a storage garage,and I missed my son.

I realize this comes at a time where we owe rent, and we received our three day notice three days ago as of this letter’s date.  We have been paying rent as we can since Francy lost her job in March and gained a part time job thereafter, and struggling to do so to this day.  Our last payment was $699 about two weeks before this ordeal started.   If we were free and clear from this debt on our own and currently in good financial standing with you, and yet have still gone through this ordeal without a break from our rent or some reasonable compensation, this letter and our request would still exist;  the clear fact that we are behind on our rent and that any break you can give us decreases our debt is circumstantial, but we’re hoping that would work for both of us.  We’ve been good tenants, active in the community of this complex for events and holidays, Francy is working out a direct deal between her pizza store and your office, and we genuinely like your staff and living here.

We’re not implying that our debt be fully erased.   We don’t mean to accuse or make the situation seem larger than it was.  The assistant we spoke to probably was right, that you don’t get mold, and this situation was as new for you as it was for us. All we’re asking for is a break, and for your understanding.

Thank you sincerely,

Nicholas Grabowsky                                                    Francy Weatherman

(tenant)                                                                           (tenant)

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About downwarden

Nicholas Grabowsky’s novels of horror/fantasy and mainstream pulp fiction, both as himself, as Nicholas Randers, and as Marsena Shane, have generated worldwide acclaim for over two decades and praised by many of today’s most popular horror gurus in the literary world. He began his career in traditional publishing houses with brisk sellers in mass market paperback horror and romance, and the last ten years have seen him hailed by many as a mentor and advocate to the smaller presses, which has become to him a passion. His body of work includes the award-winning macabre aliens-among-us epic The Everborn, The Rag Man, Pray Serpent’s Prey, Halloween IV (and its special edition), Diverse Tales, Reads & Reviews, The Wicked Haze, Sweet Dreams Lady Moon, June Park, and Red Wet Dirt, numerous anthologies, magazine articles, and self help books, with projects extending to screenplays, poetry, songs, film, comics and graphic novels, and a wide variety of short fiction and nonfiction since the 1980’s. He’s a veteran special guest at numerous genre conventions and makes appearances and signings across North America. He has been in the limelight a radical gospel preacher right out of high school and in the following years a rock vocalist, teacher, lecturer and activist, editor, publisher and founder of the Sacramento-based Diverse Media small press, which has recently blossomed into the subdivisions of Black Bed Sheet Books, which publishes “exemplary literature, fiction & non” but specializes in horror/fantasy, and Black Bed Sheet Productions, which produces independent film, and sponsors both the hit Blog Talk Radio show Francy & Friends and the popular web stream Black Hamster TV. Currently, Nicholas is at work with numerous anthologies, graphic novels and comic books, an Everborn sequel and the novels The Downwardens and The Sirens of Knowland. His independent film projects include the upcoming slasher creature feature Cutting Edges, as well as co-writing the independent film Into the Basement, for Triad Pictures. View all posts by downwarden

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