3 On Your Side: Renter claims mold forced seriously-ill daughter to move
EAST RIDGE, TN. (WRCB) -- Fighting back tears, Jessica Williamson cradles her 4-year-old daughter, Candice on the couch of in the living room of the East Ridge duplex they've called home for more than a year.
"It's always been just us, and now it's just me, because she can't be here," Williamson tells 3 On Your Side.
"Yes I can," Candice replies.
"You're not supposed to be until the mold is gone," her mother explains.
Williamson concedes that she hasn't had samples tested to determine what's showing up under the sink, and around pipes and drains. But she, and her neighbor Angela Davies claim that their landlord, WER LLC., has done little, if anything, to address it.
"The toilet backs up constantly," Davies says.
"It literally makes me so weak, not the smell, just breathing it in," Williamson says. "It was so strong."
Davis wears a surgical mask as she leads 3 On Your Side's photographer from room to room.
"They (the landlords) actually just replaced all of her shower-tub insert," she says. "It was covered in mold."
Williamson sent Candice to live with her grandmother last week.
"She was born with her insides out," her mother explains. "She has only one kidney. I can't risk another infection."
"It wasn't what I want for her, but living here is not helping either one of us. I can't afford to move. If I could, I would be out of here in a heartbeat."
A partner for WER, LLC has declined 3 On Your Side's request for an on-camera interview.
But in a written statement, Joe Williams suggests that Williamson's complaints may be "retaliation...(because) we have recently begun the eviction process against her for non-payment of rent."
Williamson maintains that she has kept December's $410 monthly rent in escrow, until repairs are made. Her landlord tells 3 On Your Side that her arrearages are long-standing, but has not provided specifics.
"Our records reveal that every maintenance request she has ever made to date has been responded to," Williams' statement continues.
"We have searched extensively throughout her unit, looking for the alleged mold, as have other service providers. We have not discovered any mold in her unit. However, we have found excessive wear and tear, along with purposeful damage."
Williamson denies vandalizing her unit, claiming East Ridge Code Enforcement found numerous violations after she asked for an inspection last Thursday.
"Our records indicate he (the inspector) did find some issues with the flooring," Chief Building Inspector Mark Dempsey tells 3 On Your Side in a telephone interview.
"He's not completed his report, so I don' know whether it rises to the level of a code violation. If it does, we'll tell the landlord and he'll have to fix it."
Dempsey has referred all inquiries concerning possible mold contamination to the health department.
"Our focus is building and structural safety issues," he says.
Williamson has presented 3 On Your Side a list of officials whom, she asserts, have offered advice regarding questions about mold, wiring, plumbing, fire and structural safety. She did not ask for, nor has she received, written documentation from any of them.
"I wish I had," she says. "I wasn't thinking at the time. If I had, I would have gotten them to do something."