COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Apartment living has turned into a nightmare for a Columbia family. Their home is covered in mold and they don't have a lot of options.
"They say 'pay your rent so you will have somewhere to live,' but we can't stay here," said Michelle Pinkney.
After two months in their new apartment, the living conditions have reduced the frustrated mother to tears. She says the growing problem is mold found by a private contractor on the walls behind their water heater, inside the vents, on insulation and inside a storage closet.
Michelle says it's causing her family to suffer from a multitude of health issues including shortness of breath, skin irritation, headaches and coughing fits.
"This is some dangerous stuff we are dealing with and we are breathing it," said Pinkney. "We're breathing it every day because we don't have anywhere else to go."
The family says they first contacted their landlord with the Eaddy Group after a sewage system backed up next door, dumping feces into their home and damaging furniture and their floors. Then came the mold.
"We just want to live in a unit that is safe and in habitable condition," said Pinkney.
When they contacted the landlord to have those concerns addressed, they say the landlord sent in a company to do a visual inspection. But the family said that was not good enough and hired a private company of their own to begin testing. While management refused to reimburse them for that testing, with no other units to move them to, they offered them $1,300 to get out of their lease -- a figure Michelle and Byron declined.
"That's way less then we needed, and we figured that was an insult because anyone who has a house knows you can't get anywhere with that," said Byron Singletary.
The landlord said they have worked with the city to make sure the septic issue will not be an ongoing problem.
The family welcomed inspectors into their apartment on Thursday to conduct a second round of tests. "Some people are just not aware of how serious a situation like this can be," said mold inspector Lance Tucker.
Tucker says he did find mold when he came in to inspect -- a lot of it. "One of the swaps that we took had a designation of TNTC that was too numerous to count," said Tucker. "Severe or heavy mold contamination."
The Eaddy Group hired their own mold inspector who performed a series of air quality and mold tests on Thursday. Those result are being sent to a lab in Florida, and should be back sometime next week.
We asked the management group if a home they currently have listed for rent would be an alternative housing option for the Singletary family. Management declined to comment until test results have been completed.