Family finds toxic black mold in apartment

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HOUSTON – A Houston family that reported mold growing inside their apartment, mold that a certified inspector labeled "black toxic mold, stachybotrys," was evicted after reporting the problem.

Chris and Shelby Baker withheld rent.

"At 5 p.m. on a Friday is when they posted the eviction notice and they posted it on anybody's door who didn't pay rent on the first," Shelby Baker said.

In Texas, even when a serious problem like black mold arises -- problems that deal with health and safety issues -- withholding rent can get a tenant evicted.

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"The first report of mold we received was last Thursday. The inspection was done on Friday. We are awaiting results. Nobody was evicted because of mold," Christine Fete, an attorney for the Sklar Pointe Apartments, said.

Three separate residents contacted by Channel 2 complained of mold growing inside their apartment. Each person said management had done little to address the problem.

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"I've been to the doctor, nothing has helped. They came and looked at it, said that nothing's wrong," tenant Danielle Rock said.

Ryan Marquez, with the University of Houston's consumer complaint center, said it is difficult for tenants to withhold rent in order to see results -- more likely, it will result in eviction.

Instead, he suggests:

  • Document the problem.
  • Call management to fix it.
  • Give them seven days.
  • Still no fix. Send a certified letter to the landlord, stating why you must move out.
  • Marquez said the tenant should note that he or she may still face liability if the problem ends up in court and the health and safety threat to the tenant is not sufficiently substantiated.

    Click here for more information about Renters' Rights.

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