Fountain City couple fights mold in their apartment

Investigations

A couple in Fountain City has been fighting mold in their apartment for more than a year. It’s not a small amount of mold. The damp environment has taken over nearly every wall in their small unit.

The couple says the apartment is unhealthy, but repairs are underway.

In some cases, mold in your home can make you sick, especially if you have allergies or asthma. Whether or not you’re allergic to mold, exposure can irritate your eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs. 

Darrell Mull has been fighting a losing battle in beating back mold that has spread throughout his apartment. 

“It’s breaking the wall, it feels damp to the touch and the carpet stays wet,” said Mull.

Mull is disabled. He contracted viral encephalitis at the age of 16. It’s an inflammation of the brain caused by a virus.

“This mold started shortly after the bedroom flooded the first time. You can see, it kept growing and growing and growing,” said Mull.

The walls in the living room and dining area are covered in mold too. It’s apparent that water has seeped in behind the walls.

“You can see it’s a flimsy as a piece of paper. It’s all wet. It’s no good,” Mull said.

Mull and his girlfriend live in Fairhill Apartments.  He pays $450 a month rent for the one bedroom, one bath unit. 

“I’m congested. My nose stays stopped up. I get headaches,” said Mull.

There is no central air or heat in the apartment.  Mull says his original apartment managers brought in baseboard heaters last year. Mull says only one of them works.

“Countless things have been ruined,” said Mull’s girlfriend Heather Burnham. “I have a cat. It has breathing problems because of the mold. It’s just not safe for anybody to live here, sleep here and breathe this in.”

Burnham says the mold is everywhere.

“There is mold above the door, there is mold in the kitchen. It’s everywhere. The corners are the worst because the condensation just builds up,” she said.

Knoxville’s Codes Department ordered the management at Fairhill Apartments to fix things in October 2017. They were supposed to repair water leakage in Mulll’s apartment, fix the heating and air system,  and replace the wet carpets, among other things.  

“That was under old management. They came out made a list of everything that needed to be done, said they had 120 days. Nobody ever fixed anything,” said Burnham.

Mull received this letter from Rand Properties at the end of December. It says Mull’s apartment complex is under new management. The letter said repairing and upgrading the complex would be made over time. Mull said he called new management, but received no timetable.

“You’re on the list,” Mull said he was told. “I said, what does that mean? He said, we’ll get to it when we can.”

Two weeks ago, WATE 6 On Your Side went to the local office for Rand Property Management where we met with two managers. They emphatically said Mull’s apartment is “going to be repaired,” that “fixing the interior and exterior” of the building is a “priority” and is “on the schedule.”

Within days, Rand Property Management had a team or workmen at the complex. Rand said its crew is “working diligently to fix maintenance issues,” which includes “water proofing the foundation wall, “removing “all water damage items” inside the units.

Rand Property Management said it’s “invested” in “conducting business in an ethical manner.” to create “clean, safe, and affordable housing.”

“They told me they were very upset with the conditions we were living in and told me that they would make sure everything would be fixed,” Mull said.

Mull is expected back in his apartment by the end of this week.

Rand Property Management said they made a visual inspection before they purchased Fair Hill Apartments, but was unable to address any issues until they officially owned the complex, which happened on December 28. 

Mull says Rand Management is keeping him up to date on progress being made to his apartment and is grateful. Rand says other units in the complex that need repairs will be taken care of as well.

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