Tri-County Health concerned about mold in apartments; new law could help renters

AURORA, Colo. -- After an Aurora woman came to the FOX31 Problem Solvers with issues of mold and a mushroom growing out of her bathroom, officials with the Tri-County Health Department say they’ve never seen anything like it.

“I’ve seen some pretty moldy cases, yes. But I’ve never seen a fungi that big before,” said the department’s Public Health Industrial Hygienist Kayla Lesperance. “I’ve never seen a mushroom like that.”

The case comes after several reports of moldy conditions at the Courtyards at Buckley. So far, Aurora Code Enforcement has received seven complaints, and has issued two violations after two inspections.

Code Enforcement says it has not been able to look into other cases due to tenants rescinding complaints, moving out or not being available for scheduling an inspection.

There are no standards or regulations for mold at a federal, state or county level, according to Lesperance. She says it’s due to the thousands of different species of mold and how it’s hard to pinpoint which ones are harmful and present in a home.

While the Tri-County Health Department can’t compel landlords to make changes, it can help mediate between tenants and landlords. It has advice and resources for tenants, including legal connections if you are experiencing mold in the apartment.

A new Colorado law also gives renters more power and leverage when it comes to mold. It gives tenants the ability to withhold rent in certain cases if their apartment is deemed uninhabitable, which now includes moldy conditions in the definition.

“It’s unlawful for a landlord not to fix the issue and have a moldy situation in the apartment,” Lesperance said.

As for health effects, Lesperance says it varies from case to case. She says people with preexisting health conditions like asthma or COPD are more susceptible to breathing problems that are associated with mold, but each person reacts in different ways.

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