Savannah Woods and her three kids are looking for a new home. They feel forced to move out because of mold growing throughout their apartment.
“I’ve cleansed, I’ve sprayed water, I’ve used organic stuff just for it to grow back within days,” explained Woods.
7 months pregnant, Woods said the managers of her complex, The Boulders at Puget Sound in Tacoma, have not done enough to deal with the issue in her apartment.
“It actually seemed like it wasn’t that big of a deal, like it was something that could be fixed, that they weren’t taking my health concerns seriously,” recalled Woods.
Across the complex, Hailey Huffman also has mold as a roommate.
“It was on the walls, the ceilings, the wall in the closet, interior walls, exterior walls. It was like a mold fest,” said Huffman.
Huffman said she told the Boulders management about the mold for months but much like Woods experience, little was done to permanently fix the problem.
“Every time they came they would paint over it wipe it down, paint it white and call it good,” recalled Huffman.
But the mold would grow back, even coming through her carpet. Both women blame the mold on water intrusion into their ground floor apartments. They said managers offered them new apartments but only if they signed new leases. When they asked to move out, they were told they would have to pay early termination fees of nearly $1500.
“I’m now having to move to a new place, put down a whole new deposit and have to change my sons’ schools. I’m 7 and a half months pregnant so this is a big stresser,” said Woods.
Real Estate Attorney Mike Larson said renters shouldn’t argue mold with landlords. Instead, talk about water intrusion. That’s something the law says landlords must repair.
“So really you are smarter if you’re a tenant to point out the problem in the landlord tenant act, the problem the landlord has a legal responsibility to take care of so the landlord takes care of something,” explained Larson.
Also make sure to put your repair request in writing. Larson said landlords then have 72-hours to make repairs.
“You can’t just merely call your landlord, have you landlord come by when you see him walk by your place you need to start the process by giving your landlord a written notice,” said Larson.
The lawyer representing Woods and Huffman told me The Boulders is willing to waive the early termination fees for the women with one catch – they have to sign a waiver releasing the company of all claims. He said The Boulders changed Woods’ total move out fees from $1300 to more than $6000 and will only dismiss them if she signs a release waiving all future claims for her and her minor children. The lawyer from The Boulders declined to comment on the record.
Check out this Renters Mold document for a summary of renters rights when dealing with mold and a sample letter of repairs to be presented to a landlord.
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