Mold Hell at apartment complex in NE Columbia: ‘We’re practically homeless’

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Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 12:32 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A single mother says she has failed her children for choosing to live at the Spring Gardens apartments on Percival Road in Columbia.

This tenant, going under the pseudonym of Jenifer in fear of retaliation, says a building leak in March rendered two-thirds of her apartment unlivable. Her air conditioning stopped working within the same month.

“The crazy part, my children were sleeping on a bed not realizing that was mold on the bed. And they were literally sleeping in the bed,” said Jenifer on Thursday.

Now four months after the alarming discovery, black mold consumes her children’s bedroom which has since been cleared and barricaded for their protection. The family sleeps in an 84-degree living room every night.

Jenifer's family bathtub addled with black mold.
Jenifer's family bathtub addled with black mold.(Andrew Fancher)

Jenifer says the leasing office harasses tenants and threatens evictions on a daily basis. Following police and fire reports, she hired a lawyer and filed an injunction on the complex.

“If they would have came in and did what they were supposed to do, it would have never escalated to that.”

Jenifer’s bench trial was Aug. 17 before the Richland County Magistrate. She says the judge ruled in her favor and ordered Spring Gardens to conduct repairs with a licensed contractor by Oct. 25.

She was joined in court by an equally as appalled neighbor introduced to WIS as Ms. Patterson. The single mother of two children lives in a downstairs unit with three missing windows and a busted sliding door.

Ms. Patterson's boarded up patio.
Ms. Patterson's boarded up patio.(Andrew Fancher)

“We’re trying to fight back our rights... the fire department just came here to fix all the lights. We filed a work order for that one year ago,” said Ms. Patterson.

While touring Ms. Patterson’s unit, WIS located a dead rat in her utility closet. Meanwhile, the comfort of her family is dependent on three window units purchased out of pocket. She says the A/C has not worked all summer.

Ms. Patterson said "the smell of death" was lingering in her apartment for three days.
Ms. Patterson said "the smell of death" was lingering in her apartment for three days.(Tyler Keef)

In addition to those who pay full rent, the complex houses Section-8 tenants financially restricted to hazardous living conditions.

“This complex is disturbing and disgusting... my mom is a survivor cancer patient. So everything she’s inhaling is going through her body to the point she gets sick,” said Samja, son of a tenant on Section-8.

While touring Samja’s room, WIS stepped through a large puddle of water surrounding his bed. An unidentified white substance protruded from his floorboards.

Samja removed an air filter grille adjacent to his room and located a pool of standing water.
Samja removed an air filter grille adjacent to his room and located a pool of standing water.(Tyler Keef)

WIS emailed Spring Gardens’ parent company, Your Way Management Team, and received a response from President John Marti. However, he never responded to the calendar invite he requested.

While on-site, WIS made several attempts for in-person comment from the leasing office. Per tenants, the office was evacuated and locked when our news vans arrived.

Jenifer says the court-ordered repairs to her unit has not started.

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