FOX13 Investigates moldy apartments & what you can do

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mold can be found in any apartment or home in our community.

But some renters told FOX13 that even when they call their leasing office about the issues, nothing is done to fix them.

And some are so desperate that they take matters into their own hands.

Vanisha Johnson told us she’s been in her apartment for more than two years.

“I have breathing problems,” Johnson said. “My daughter has sickle cell. I have lupus.”

She said that despite the treatment, she’s been living with mold every day.

“Since I been here. They will come in here and try to spray it down. They have a new company come in every three weeks to a month, so you have to re-explain yourself. They spray it with bleach, and that will be all,” Johnson said.

It’s not just bleach.

Johnson said maintenance has also simply tried to paint over the mold.

“It was just a big hole right here. It was mold growing around the whole tub,” Johnson said.

After one complaint to code enforcement, her complex cut that area around her bathtub out and replaced it with new sheetrock.

But she said even now, she’s worried the mold will come back.

“There is never a real solution. Code Enforcement advises me to file a lawsuit against them because, with my daughter’s health, it was not good for her health,” Johnson said.

When someone like Johnson complains about moldy apartments, they reach out to Memphis Code Enforcement.

They’ll investigate and issue citations which turn into fines if the problems aren’t fixed.

Public Works Director Robert Knecht told us moldy apartments are a common complaint.

“The real challenge regarding mold is that there is no standard to mitigate mold in and of itself. What we do try to mitigate is the causation of mold. It may be an excess of water either through plumbing or leaks,” Knecht said.

Knecht said there are ways to get rid of mold.

“There are ways to mitigate mold and mildew. Depends on the surface and the location of it,” Knecht said.

It all depends on what ‘type’ of mold is infecting your home, and there are nine different types.

If there’s mold in the drywall, it’s ruined by wetness, and experts suggest cutting that section out and replacing it, as they did in Johnson’s home.

Mold also loves wooden surfaces around your windowsills, flooring, wall framing, and furniture.

Knecht recommends drying surfaces, using bleach, and scrubbing in areas where mold grows.

If all else fails, Mid-South lawyers suggest taking the person who owns the property to court.

Attorney Walter Bailey said you might have to resort to legal action and report the mold to other departments beyond code enforcement.

“The most effective method would be to log your complaints and report it to the health department if you don’t get any quick relief,” Bailey said.

If your home is uninhabitable, a lawsuit is a bigger possibility, especially if someone’s health is in jeopardy.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, renters should give a written request to the landlord for repairs that are needed and keep a copy for their records.

It is not recommended that you stop paying rent. Report the issue to the Department of Health and then file a report with the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs.