Airdrie renter frustrated by presence of mould
An Airdrie resident is desperately trying to get out of her rental property after discovering mould and mushroom-like growths in the basement.
Single-mother Lenore Fox and her three daughters moved into the rental home, located in Meadowbrook, last November.
In March and April, daughter Robyn, then 14, started complaining about headaches and vomiting.
“I was throwing up, I couldn’t eat or drink,” said Robyn. “I just felt out of breath a lot and got lots of headaches.”
The symptoms mystified doctors. After missing three weeks of school, Robyn began sleeping upstairs in her mom’s bedroom.
Shortly after moving upstairs, the then Grade 9 student began feeling better and wanted to move back to her basement bedroom. While Fox was preparing Robyn’s bed in June, she pulled it out from the wall and discovered a mess.
“At closer inspection, (I saw) it was mould from one end to the other and there were clear round mushrooms growing out of the carpet,” said Fox. “I was absolutely mortified.”
A first-time renter, Fox immediately contacted Murray McDonald, who manages the property.
Fox said McDonald told her she would have to leave the property and would be unable to get her damage deposit back. Unable to afford the move or find a property that would allow her daughters to stay in their current schools, Fox said she feels stuck.
“First and foremost, I would like to find a place to live that’s affordable and suits our family,” said Fox.
Frustrated by the situation, Fox contacted the former renters and found out they had similar problems.
Lacey Pyrke, along with her husband and four children, moved into the home in April 2011.
According to Pyrke, the home was a mess, but the family felt they had no choice but to move in.
“It was disgusting,” said Pyrke. “When my husband went down to the basement... the walls were covered in mould.”
Pyrke said they also discovered the carpet was wet and had fungus growing out of it.
Pyrke said she contacted McDonald, but no one came to investigate the mould until she called a health inspector a month later. The family also paid $900 for a mould inspection report, which was completed in late July.
The report, completed by Randy McKay
of Calgary-based MR Home Inspection Services Inc., said mould was detected in the basement and stated “mould remediation should be performed by a trained and qualified mould remediation professional.”
Pyrke said the landlord insisted on keeping the family’s $1,650 damage deposit so the tenants decided to not pay their last two months of rent.
“I would like to see the house condemned,” said Pyrke.
The situation is similar for Fox, who said she told the property manager she won’t be paying her $1,650 rent while looking for a new home.
McDonald said the owners, Frank and Zabeda Jessa, are keeping the damage deposit because Fox has stopped paying rent. He said the problem will be fixed once the house is vacant.
“We are just waiting for the tenant to leave,” said McDonald.
“I have tried to work with Lenore… but she has stated she doesn’t want it repaired while she is living there. When rent is not paid… then of course she can’t live for free.”
McDonald said owners have been working with Alberta Health Services (AHS) and were given the green light to rent the property out again before Fox moved in last fall.
Dr. Richard Musgo, medical officer of health with the Calgary zone of AHS, confirmed that a health inspector gave the OK to rent the property out again last fall.
“The inspector went out and saw some evidence of moisture and mould and made the recommendations to the landowner and was satisfied that the work had been done,” said Musgo.
He added mould doesn’t adversely affect most people’s health.
“For most people it would be more of an aesthetic concern than a health one,” said Musgo. “Most people wouldn’t have any symptoms whatsoever.”
Musgo said the minority of the population that is sensitive to moulds might suffer from respiratory irritation and develop a cough.
The mould inspection report said the most common symptoms of mould exposure are runny nose, eye irritation, cough, congestion and aggravation of asthma.
The reported also stated potential health risks include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory problems.
For more information on mould, visit www.albertahealthservices.ca
To obtain assistance to resolve tenant and landowner issues, contact www.servicealberta.ca