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Lynchburg couple claims mold in apartment is making them sick

By Tim Saunders, tsaunders@wdbj7.com
Published On: Sep 18 2013 05:48:22 PM EDT

Ever since they moved into a new apartment last month, they've had headaches and visited doctors on a regular basis.

LYNCHBURG, Va. -

A Lynchburg family says their home is making them sick.

Ever since they moved into a new apartment last month, they've had headaches and visited doctors on a regular basis.

They believe their apartment is contaminated with mold. No official testing has been done to confirm that but the family is asking its landlord for help.

A move to Lynchburg was supposed to improve Kimberly Johnson's quality of life. She came here for the amenities, including the good schools.

Johnson found those things, but ended up getting something else she didn't want.

Ever since she and her boyfriend, Jackie Hogan, moved into the Maple Ridge apartments, both say they've been sick.

"I've been to the doctor. I'm having bad headaches. I wake up in the middle of the night gasping for my breath," Hogan said.

Johnson rolled back her carpet one day to find dark stains on the wooden floor underneath.

"The landlord brought in ServPro and they checked it. They said it is positive for mold. He didn't know which kind it was, but it is mold," Johnson said.

A document from her property manager states the apartment was mold free when she moved in August 6th. Johnson stands by her claim, even though she doesn't have any paperwork to prove it. She says her apartment isn't the only one with this problem.

"Just about everyone they've talked to in this building has been sick, but they've refused to come forward," Johnson said.

She wants the problem fixed. In the meantime, she and Hogan are making plans to move.

"I'm fine when I go outside, but when I come in here I'm sick again. My headaches start,” Hogan said.

Maple Ridge is owned and managed by S.L. Nusbaum Realty Company. Steve Boyce, a vice president for S.L. Nusbaum, said his company offered to let Johnson and Hogan out of their lease early, but they declined. Boyce called the dark stains on Johnson and Hogan's floor “dry water stains." He said corrective action was taken to replace carpet and weather stripping in the apartment.

"We've gone above and beyond," Boyce said.

We talked to Lynchburg attorney Ed Dawson, who said that tenants can take legal action if their landlord refuses to correct the situation.

If there are health risks associated with the apartment, renters can file something called a "tenant assertion" in general district court.

That requires you to continue paying rent, but the money is held by the court. A judge will then decide if the property owner is living up to his or her expectations, and whether the money should be paid to the landlord.

If you do discover mold in your apartment, experts say to remember mold is everywhere. It's not always dangerous and it doesn't always make you sick.