Scared Renter


(West Sacramento)

It all started with an overactive smoke detector. We discovered a few months after moving in that the steam from the shower was enough to set off the smoke detector outside the bathroom in the hall. This was disruptive, loud, and gave our beloved dog panic attacks.

While I would have preferred to crack the door during showers, and open the door after for maximum ventilation, I was unable due to the alarm. I can only crack it when I am done showering, and I have the vent on the entire time. I leave it on for hours to try and help dry the bathroom.

There were some stains in the caulk around the shower pieces when we moved in. I asked maintenance to lay down a new bead and add caulk to some gaps in the shower that were unsealed. They laughed at me, but they did do it.

Mold and mildew eventually gained a foothold on the walls, and the ceiling is stained from the excessive condensation that gathers on it, causing bubbling in the paint. There isn't a huge problem--just enough to be unsightly, to discourage anyone from taking a real bath. I have tried cleaning with bleach wipes, all-purpose cleaner, and white vinegar. None of this was helpful long term. I sprayed with peroxide, and this seems to have killed some of the mold infected sites, but stains remain.

Life took an unfortunate turn when we experienced a bottom-floor issue: sudsing. Backflow from the upstairs units, particularly from the laundry, it seems, began coming up in our toilet. It seems to have brought mold spores with it. Mold now grows back up the pipe into the bowl in between cleanings, unhindered by Clorox or other toilet cleaners. It has also colonized the little recesses under the rim. We complained about the sudsing, and it seems that it has improved a little bit. The mold on the other hand? Still haven't beat it. It comes back from too deep to reach with a standard toilet brush.

I feel that the unit probably needs new drywall in the bathroom, maybe also new plumbing.

I have complained about a mold/mildew issue in the past with window condensation, and they basically just laughed at me.

Now I want to get the unit inspected and tested for mold, but I'm scared. There is a housing crisis in this area, and I actually like the location of our unit. I'm afraid of homelessness, house hunting, and moving. I have chronic illnesses, so I am scared that the mold might be making me sicker, but I am also scared of losing my home or being kicked out by an uncaring landlord.

Our Reply


I am sorry to hear about your mold issue. While I understand your concerns about being evicted for complaining, there is nothing as important as your health. The potential long-term consequences of household mold exposure include respiratory infections, joint pain, depression, memory loss, vertigo, digestive issues, heart damage....

I would suggest contacting your local department of health and see what they advise. Often they have an attorney on staff that can help as well. If you need proof of the mold, you can hire a mold tester to conduct air and surface tests. You can use this form to find a list of local mold testers that can help identify exactly what type of mold you are dealing with, and how bad the problem is.

Please let us know what happens.

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