NEW PORT RICHEY, Florida -- Mold -- it's a problem that several New Port Richey tenants say will not go away.
They say management either ignores the mold problem or puts a band-aid on it by cleaning it up with bleach. Some tenants at Ranchside Apartments and High Points Apartment are on a fixed income and say they feel trapped with nowhere to go, and management is providing them with few answers.
"All they want to do is move us into another apartment," says David Brooks, a tenant at High Points Apartments. Brooks called 10 News after seeing our story on another tenant at a nearby apartment complex managed by the same company, Elon Management Group. Brooks says the property manager's solution to move him would make it the third apartment for him in the same complex in six months for the same problem mold.
"We've been here three or four months. It's come up since then," Brooks points to black mold covering the lower part of the wall in his utility room near the water heater.
Brooks has pictures of his first High Points apartment showing mold in the kitchen, the bathroom, and on the wallpaper.
"They didn't do anything to take care of the mold, just covered it with bleach, painted it, moved somebody else in. I feel it's careless on their part," says Brooks.
We first learned of the mold issues at a similar apartment complex called Ranchside. Single mom Nicole Nikolic, who is expecting her second child, moved out. Management says they are fixing the problem, yet mold remains.
"I've seen bad ones. This is pretty nasty," says Eric Jimenez, a mold removal subcontractor.
Nikolic hired a cleaning crew today to remove her things covered in mold. Jimenez wore a full body suit and a respirator mask to protect him from the spores as he packed Nikolic's personal items in plastic bags. "So it won't get in my lungs, skin, pores. It'll make you sick," he says.
Nikolic's neighbor is moving out too. Richard Beadle says mold is rotting his bathroom floor. He says, "I wish they would clean up the place, kill all the mold, do what they need to do to fix the place up."
We approached the district manager, Tori Boyd, at High Points Apartments about the mold problems, and with each question her response was, "No comment."
When asked about specific cases, such as Brooks' apartment, she said, "I wasn't aware of that situation."
10 News asked, "Tori, you are the district manager. A lot of these tenants say the problems, the complaints, have been going on for months, and you sit here saying you didn't know about it?"
Boyd's responded, "That's something you will have to speak to the corporate office [about]. I am not at liberty to discuss it with you guys. I will have to ask you to leave the office."
Brooks says, "I feel they are endangering people's health. It's not fair. I'm having respiratory problems. My wife is having headaches. It's been a nightmare."
District manager Tori Boyd manages 13 apartment complexes in the Bay area for the Elon Management Group based in New Jersey. There are about 100 Elon apartment complexes in Florida. Boyd assured 10 News someone from the corporate office would speak to us today. We have not heard back from anyone with Elon.