Moldy apartment finally being cleaned for Columbia family

By Rochelle Dean - email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Work has started to clear out mold from a Columbia family's home. The Singletary family has been offered a place to stay while they wait for work to be finished.

Tuesday was the beginning of the end to a nearly two-month battle against a growing mold problem the Singletary family says led to multiple health issues.

Phase one to rid the apartment unit of mold began early Tuesday afternoon. Maintenance crews with Eaddy Management came in to cut out drywall and replace flooring that was covered in mold after a septic system backed up into their apartment, leaving behind feces and then mold.

"There is mold growth in there, and I confirmed the mold growth in there," said Larry Harris, who was hired by the apartment complex.

Harris said his preliminary test results show the family had been living in a unit with a fungal mold known as cladisporium. While the apartment management initially offered to return the family's first months rent and deposit, they wouldn't reimburse them for money spent on hotels, damaged furniture or personal mold testing that left them with no money and no place to live.

On Thursday, management agreed to move the family into an extended stay hotel while the remediation work to sanitize the unit is complete. "It feels really good to finally see some progress being made," said Michelle Pinkney. "Being in that atmosphere not being able to think, not being able to function because of the mold, it made me feel like I was going crazy."

"All of the moving and going from place to place, it's been real hard, but we always make it," added Pinkney.

Michelle and Byron, who home school their children, say the process has allowed them to teach their kids one lesson they'll never learn in a book. "Sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in," said Pinkney.

The family, who had only lived in the unit for two months, says they never expected to be in this situation and are now encouraging anyone getting ready to rent property to make sure they document everything, and thoroughly go over their lease agreement so they know exactly what they're getting into. The cleaning process should be completed on Friday.

Related Story:

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.