ANDERSON, Ind. -- An Anderson woman is accusing her landlord of renting her a home that’s falling apart.
She claims the home is so unsafe, her family can no longer stay there.
“When it rains, it pours in the room where the wall comes down into my kids’ room,” said Ashley Rude. “It ruined one of their day beds. Ruined it.”
The bigger problem though, is what the Anderson mother believes is now making her family sick.
“Either way you look at it, that’s black mold,” said Rude, pointing to cracks in the drywall. “Which makes me wonder, if you take this wall out, how much more mold is up in here? That’s what I really want to know.”
With her two-year-old son constantly sick, she made the tough decision to send them to live with their dad until she could get the place cleaned up.
But Rude’s landlord, she says, won’t give her any answers. For the past two months, she’s called and texted him about the mold and a list of other issues with little to no response.
“The heater in the bathroom doesn’t work,” said Rude. “The floor’s coming up in the bathroom. There’s no heater in my kids’ room. We have no hot water.”
We were able to see a week of correspondence between Rude and her landlord that only elicited one response from the man.
When Rude realized she couldn’t count on any help from her landlord, she called the Madison County Board of Health and the Building Commission. Both told her they couldn’t help.
The county’s environmental director, Brandon Clidence, says mold is not considered a health hazard under Indiana state law, so the hands of officials at the board of health are tied. Clidence says this is unfortunate, as the office fields calls every day from renters about mold problems.
Clidence also says the building commission can only get involved if there are structural issues in the home.
We called Rude’s landlord to see why he hasn’t fixed the problems himself. He claims he has fixed some of the issues at the apartment. But when asked for specific problems he’s solved, he said he didn’t know what his workers had done.
“I want them to fix it or give me my money back so I can move,” said Rude. “I have three kids, ya know? I’m struggling the way it is.”
In the meantime, Rude says she’s working 6 to 7 days a week, trying to save up enough money to move. But she says that’s tough, since she keeps having to spend her paycheck on supplies to fix up all the problems around the house.
Clidence says he tells every renter in Rude’s situation to look for the structural issues that may have caused leaks in the first place. He says those problems can sometimes be hazardous enough the building commission does have to get involved. The renovations, he says, sometimes involve taking care of the mold as well.
He also advises people to keep detailed documents about problems around the house or apartment and any conversations with their landlords. That, he says, he can help if you end up having to take the landlord to small claims court to get a security deposit or other money back.
But Rude says she’s not optimistic her landlord would pay up, even if she did sue.
“I’m hopeless,” said Rude. “I mean what else is there to do?”