Renters fight with apartment complex about mold business victoriaadvocate.com gas and supply locations

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Levi contacted Denise McInturff, regional property manager for Greystar Management Services in Houston, who said Levi would have to pay for the expensive mold assessment. She learned the inspection would cost about $1,000, which she could not afford.

Another apartment within the same complex was not available, so the apartment managers offered to release the Levis from their lease. The family could move out immediately, but its options were limited by financial constraints and housing availability.

"We dispute the claims alleged by the resident regarding this matter," wrote Tillery in an email. "Nonetheless, we have been very responsive to her service requests and have even offered her options in the event that she wanted to seek other accommodations, which she declined."

The primary care physician who has treated the family cannot definitively confirm that exposure to mold has caused the ailments plaguing the Levis. None of the family members has seen an allergist. Michael Levi started his own company, and their private health insurance coverage begins May 1.

When the amount of contiguous square feet cannot be determined visibly, as with mold growing inside air ducts and vents, an experienced mold assessor should perform the assessment, said Annabelle Dillard, manager for the Environmental Hazards Group with the Texas Department of State Health Services.

A city or county may have housing codes that govern apartment rentals and the minimum maintenance requirements. If a housing inspection program exists, tenants may file a complaint and request an inspection of their unit or the building. If the inspector finds violations of the local housing code, the inspector may write orders for their correction. In such cases, the landlord will be given time to make the necessary repairs.

If a local housing inspection program does not exist or the housing code cannot be applied, then the tenant could try to file a complaint with the city or county health department. Some local public health agencies may apply their authority to declare a property a public health nuisance and may issue correction orders to the landlord.

Tenants may seek assistance from their local building code official, if there is one. The building official may inspect the unit to determine whether it is structurally sound. He or she may also, in some cases, enforce maintenance provisions of the building code.

A tenant might want to hire a licensed mold assessor to help document a mold problem. Any individual or company who provides this service in Texas must be licensed as a mold assessor by the Department of State Health Services. Listings of licensed mold assessors can be found on the department’s website at dshs.state.tx.us/mold/profession.shtm.

Tenants who feel a landlord has failed to maintain their rental unit in good repair must notify the landlord in writing and request that repairs are made within a reasonable time. As a last resort, tenants should consider seeking legal advice from an attorney.

More information about landlord/tenant issues in Texas is available at the Texas attorney general’s office’s at oag.state.tx.us/consumer/tenants.shtml website. Spanish translation is at oag.state.tx.us/AG_Publications/pdfs/tenant_rights_span.pdf