3 On Your Side: Duplex cited for mold, landlord makes repairs
3 On Your Side updates its investigation into claims of mold contamination.
EAST RIDGE, TN. (WRCB) -- Four and one-half weeks ago, Jessica Williamson, her pre-school daughter Kandice, and her neighbor, Angi Davis, walked 3 On Your Side through the duplex they rent in East Ridge, claiming their landlord's neglect stretched beyond disrepair.
"I guess just breathing it in, it was so strong," Jessica says. "If you stay too long, you'll be leaving with a cough. You'll be sick, it'll be hard for you to breathe."
Two days after 3 On Your Side's first report aired, East Ridge's Division of Codes Enforcement confirmed that an inspection had turned up several violations.
Investigator William McKeel notified the landlord, Wilco Properties, LLC, that he'd found several violations, among them:
- Mold under the kitchen sink
- Inadequate flooring between the bathtub and toilet
- Inadequate heat. Wood had covered the floor register in the living room
- Unsealed space between the sill and a window unit air conditioner in the kitchen
McKeel gave the landlord until January 3 (15 days) to correct deficiencies.
He re-inspected the duplex Wednesday afternoon. 3 On Your Side has attempted to determine his findings, but neither he nor his supervisors have returned phone calls.
Four days after 3 On Your Side's first report (two days after receiving McKeel's notice of violations), Wilco Properties' spokesman Joe Williams acknowledged via email that contractors had "just about completed" repairs "made at her (Williamson's) request."
The email makes no mention of the Codes Enforcement inspection, but references repairs to the bathroom floor, to the kitchen plumbing, and removing the floor heater in the living room.
However, "we have once again, not discovered ANY black mold in or around the unit," Williams' December 21 email continues.
"Ms. Williamson has signed off as satisfied on completed work made at her request, which should resolve the issue," the email concludes.
"I'm not satisfied," Jessica says. "I still don't know whether the mold has been tested. They (the landlord) probably want to get rid of me really bad."
Wilco has served her an Eviction Notice for failure to pay rent for December or January.
"My lawyer told me not to," Jessica says.
She maintains that the balance, approximately $820, remains in her personal checking account rather than being held in escrow.
A hearing is set for Monday, January 14.
Jessica maintains that mold and sanitation issues have worsened her daughter's kidney ailments and complicated her own breathing issues. She spent several days in Erlanger Medical Center for bronchitis and pharyngitis.
Her discharge papers list her diagnosis as bronchitis and emphysema, but also states that her complaints of weakness and fatigue have "no known cause."
"I don't want to leave, I love my neighbors," Jessica says. "I really can't afford to leave."
"I don't want to sue. I just want things to be repaired."