CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — What do you do when your home is unlivable and your landlord won’t fix it? That’s one of the calls we get most frequently both at Channel 2 Action News and to the Clark Howard Consumer Action Center.
That’s where Tameika Sanders called after her doctor told her that her daughters were getting sick because of the mold in her Clayton County apartment.
“You’re basically killing us slowly. We’re inhaling this for a year and 6 months,” Sanders told Channel 2 Consumer Investigator Justin Gray.
When she felt like management in her apartment complex was not taking action, Sanders took matters into her own hands. She hired a home inspector to come in, she sent samples away for testing and she sent her daughters to the doctor.
“My asthmatic daughter, she has four different types of mold in her blood stream,” Sanders said.
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What she found was disturbing. The inspector found mold in the ducts, the samples came back positive for multiple molds and most concerning of all, it was affecting her daughters’ health.
“It’s not livable. My daughters’ doctor said you have to get out of there. That environment is not good. So I left,” Sanders said.
Sanders showed her documentation to management and when she didn’t get the fixes she felt were necessary, she decided to move.
That’s exactly what the team at the Consumer Action Center says is the right move.
“What is so important and what I tell all my callers is document, document, document,” Lori Silverman, the Director of the Consumer Action Center said.
Silverman says that documentation is key because by Georgia law, that landlord has to provide a habitable home.
“Legally, it is called constructive eviction, where you basically are then constructively evicted from your home or apartment for the issues you are having there,” Silverman said.
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Even if you can get out of your lease, moving is expensive.
Sanders’ neighbor at the Reserve at 2070 Apartments, Suvon Wells, also believes her home has mold, but she can’t afford to move right now.
“You have to start all over, you have to come up with a deposit. What we’re doing is signing leases to give our hard earned money but at the same time we believe we should have some type of protection,” Wells said.
Silverman warns that a landlord may fight a constructive eviction and you may have to take them to small claims court. That’s why it is important to document everything and provide that documentation to your landlord.
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Atlanta legal aid and the Georgia legal services program created a Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook.
It’s a great resource that includes county by county information for renters and spells out your rights.
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