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Of Mice and Mushrooms: Tenant alleges frequent leaks in apartment cause mold, fungus growth

Posted at 6:16 PM, May 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-22 18:16:08-04

A resident of an east side apartment complex dreads coming home to their apartment units because of alleged unsafe and unsanitary living conditions, including mice, mold, shot electrical outlets and failing plumbing fixtures. 

The tenant alleges property management has frequently failed to act on the festering issues.

After spending months on a waiting list, Elizabeth Jackson, 28, moved into Park Place Apartments with her young son back in 2016. The problems started just a few months after moving in, Jackson said. Faulty plumbing, she said, sent water through the ceiling in her downstairs living area. 

Maintenance fixed the pipes and patched the ceiling. That was the first and last time maintenance has fixed anything in her unit, Jackson said. Since then, the problems have only gotten worse.

“The tub started to leak. I told [management] about that. Nothing. That was several months ago,” Jackson said. “Now the ceiling is leaking.”

A slow but steady leak sends large droplets of water into a cup on the kitchen table. While it is a slow leak, it’s fast enough to fill the cup every couple of hours. The leak has also caused significant damage to the floor below, causing the peel-and-stick vinyl flooring to become dislodged. The subfloor is moist and has lost its rigidity.

There also appears to be mold. Jackson also showed News 5 a photo purportedly showing mushrooms growing out of the subfloor. Yes, mushrooms.

“I think in this house we are getting sick. We are getting more sick, especially [my son] because he sleeps downstairs,” Jackson said. “[Property management doesn’t] do anything. As soon as you give them the money, they still don’t come. I’ve never, ever, ever had somebody come into my apartment except for the one time they came to patch the wall.”

Jackson, whose rent is subsidized, said she has routinely and repeatedly contacted the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the property management company, Independent Management Services.

An initial email from a company representative stated IMS had installed a new roof on the place last summer so they had intermittent leaking. That was the only problem the company was aware of, the representative stated. Additionally, property managers just completed unit inspections in March 2018 and the company had no prior knowledge of Jackson’s apartment being in the condition it was in.

A later email from the same company representative stated the March inspection found leaking and flooring damage in Jackson’s unit but neither issue was reported to management. Jackson, however, has voicemails and emails notifying management about the issues at her unit. In the later email, the company representative stated a plumber was called out to repair the leak.

But the leak continues.

An IMS representative stated they will reach out to Jackson to set up a meeting.

“I dread this apartment so much. I dread being here. I hate coming home,” Jackson said. “They will send people here to give me eviction notices before they send people to come fix my stuff.”

Jackson received an eviction notice earlier this month after she withheld paying rent out of protest. Other tenants have placed their rent money into escrow until repairs are made at their units. According to Cleveland Department of Building and Housing, there were at least four public health violations at Park Place in 2017.