Getting Answers: ways for renters to address mold concerns

Linda Fortune told Western Mass News she has been dealing with mold in her apartment for months.
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 6:15 PM EDT|Updated: May. 18, 2022 at 7:13 PM EDT
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NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Linda Fortune is a 75-year-old woman who lives in the senior living apartment complex, Michael’s House, in Northampton. She told Western Mass News she has been dealing with mold in her apartment for months.

“I have it in that HVAC system, which needs to be remediated by an expert. That’s what I want, that’s all I want,” Fortune said.

Fortune invited Western Mass News to her one-bedroom apartment on 71 State Street in Northampton. She showed us what she believes is mold in her kitchen and HVAC system.

She told us she wrote a letter to property management three months ago saying that she suffers from a mold allergy, making living in a space with a certain amount of mold more harmful to her health. The Michael’s House property manager responded by bringing in a mold expert to evaluate the problem.

“Then she had her person come in and do the test also, but he did not go into the HVAC system at all. When I did is I took a strep test of the HVAC and sent it to be analyzed,” Fortune added.

Through a Freedom of Information request, we obtained copies of the Northampton Board of Health’s assessment of the property. The board of health’s inspection acknowledged Fortune’s independent mold/lab analysis report showed “high counts for asperguillus and basidiospores.”

The department conducted its own testing finding no “significant visible fungal growth...present.”

However, at the same time, the report said mold spore counts were slightly elevated in Fortune’s bedroom.

Fortune added that her apartments property management did provide her a new air purifier, HEPA filter, and replaced the air conditioner filters to help improve the air quality. However, she said there is still mold in the HVAC system and kitchen that remains untreated.

We reached out to property management at Fortune’s apartment complex, Appleton Corporation, to see what has been done through their office. They told us in a statement, in part:

“Michael’s House meets or exceeds all codes and standards of habitability established by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. We are subject to oversight from a number of jurisdictional authorities including the Northampton health department and Mass Housing.”

It goes went on to say:

“Both of these entities have been actively involved in this matter and have been in frequent communication with the resident and our property manager. The health department and Mass Housing are both satisfied with our communication, follow-through, performance, and resolution to this matter.”

One local attorney we spoke with told us how tenants can address mold issues.

“They can file a suit in the Western Division Housing Court and seek legal advice,” said Attorney Krystle Bernier, legal clinic director with the Hampden County Bar Association.

Bernier also told us that renters can reach out to the Hampden County Legal Clinic for brief counseling and legal advice for problems such as mold in their apartment that may not be getting fixed by landlords.