"Very heavy" mold levels confirmed at Lake Arbor Apartments
- Test results confirmed "very heavy" levels of mold at the troubled Lake Arbor Apartments in West Charlotte.
Lake Arbor has been at the center of a FOX 46 investigation that's led to the N.C. Attorney General's Office and City of Charlotte Code Enforcement opening up their own investigations.
The thing is, FOX 46 discovered that no one on the federal, state, county or city level is testing or looking for mold issues.
"We need to let people know that this is not going to be tolerated and people are paying attention," N.C. State Representative Chaz Beasley said.
FOX 46 brought in Page Inspections Plus Inc. to test an apartment at Lake Arbor that we suspected to have mold. Five areas were tested and test results showed all areas to have mold, including "very heavy" levels of aspergillus and "very heavy" levels of stachybotrys.
Alternaria, Chaetomium and Cladosporium were also found ranging from rare to light levels.
Code enforcement inspected every unit on the property and found violations in every unit -- but code enforcement does not categorize mold in its inspections.
Mecklenburg County does not conduct mold testing, either.
Rep. Beasley told FOX 46, change, to some extent needs to happen when it comes to overseeing mold at rental properties.
"The science is there," Beasley said. "The key is understanding how to actually enforce it and if we're not going to take the time to figure it out there are going to be a lot of people whose health is actually going to suffer."
Beasley did not rule out introducing new legislation in Raleigh.
"If that's where the hole is then we need to fix that," he added.
Beasley's office said it is "researching the issue extensively and will continue to engage with local and state experts to discuss how to improve living conditions for our citizens -- particularly the most vulnerable among us."
No federal funding is tied to Lake Arbor Apartments. Their property management (Broad Management) has repeatedly declined comment.
Tenants pay, roughly, $850 a month to live there. Some of those tenants spoke at the Mecklenburg County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday.
Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour asked county officials if they could use the health department to take actions against Lake Arbor.
"I mean, we have health inspectors who visit restaurants and if there are X-amount of failures the restaurant has to close to remediate them" Ridenhour said.
The county health director, however, said state lawmakers do not give the county the authority to inspect apartments -- even though they can inspect hotels and restaurants.
Some commissioners said changes to this have regularly been fought by lawmakers in Raleigh.
"Our legislators have given [landlords] all sorts of protections, have they not," Commissioner Dumont Clarke said. "When code enforcement comes around, they have all kinds of rights of appeal and a right to get a hearing on it...so in fact our legislature has really come down to protecting the owners of the property against code enforcement and efforts by government to try to eradicate problems like this." Commissioners will discuss potentially placing a Lake Arbor discussion into a committee meeting for further evaluation.
Residents are scheduled to appear at the next city council meeting to continue speaking out about their fight with Lake Arbor Apartments and the recent confirmed findings of mold.
"I'm currently without a place, with nowhere to go," resident Iyanna Flemming said.
Flemming's apartment is the unit tested for mold.
"Property managers, they won't speak with me," Flemming said.
Dozens of tenants told FOX 46 their units also have mold and they've sent video and photo evidence supporting their case.