Tenants stuck with mold infestation, city code takes no action

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A potential health crisis is happening right now at a Colorado Springs apartment complex.

At least one home at the Pine Creek Village apartments has been deemed a serious health hazard after severe levels of mold were discovered.

“The one in the restroom, some of it was falling down on my eyes when I was taking a shower,” said Yvonne Marroquin, a tenant at the apartment complex.

Marroquin is talking about mold – a growing problem that many tenants, like Christian Buffington, are having to pay out of pocket in order to get fixed.

“I picked up a report from them this morning and the report stated that there was a level three mold infestation which is the highest level there is,” said Buffington, another tenant. “They warned me to evacuate my apartment and get my family out of there for our safety.”

Tenants say the property manager has continued to ignore complaints. In Colorado Springs city code, there is no mandate that says the city must take action.

However, code enforcement did give the property 10 days to fix an assortment of other problems in code violation.

“The water pipe that’s busted in the wall somewhere that we don’t know exactly where it is,” said Buffington. “That has to be fixed.”

“We have roaches everywhere,” said Marroquin. “Water pressure — we don’t have hot water pressure.”

The property manager refused to go on camera with FOX21 and address the growing concerns.

“I go tell management and all they do is paint over it because I’ve seen them work,” said Marroquin. “I don’t see them cut any pieces out of the sheet rock or anything.”

“We feel like we’ve been isolated,” said Buffington. “We feel like we’re going to be attacked or that they’re going to try and kick us out if we say anything.”

Colorado does not have any laws that specifically address a landlord’s duty or liability when it comes to mold prevention and remediation meaning people like Marroquin and Buffington, already trying to make ends meets, don’t have a lot of options.

“I already told them and they’re not going to do anything about it and it’s been a year like I said,” said Marroquin.

“I don’t know,” said Buffington. “Be homeless, sit in there and die — I don’t know.”

Colorado courts have recognized two common self-help strategies that tenants can take following a mold outbreak – the first is rent withholding and the second is known as “repair and deduct,” which involves tenants taking care of mold cleanup on their own and then subtracting the cost from their rent.

If neither of those work, taking the landlord to court in hopes of compensation is another option.

We will continue to follow this story as it develops.

 

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