It is literally, a house of horrors that one Chattanooga tenant has been dealing with, and now she's being forced out of the dwelling.
Apparently from what we have seen, the nightmare for this family is one they'll live with for a very long time. After she got laid off from her job, Aundra Clay told us, she was not able to move as fast as she wanted to.
But now, thanks to a Chattanooga city building inspector, that decision has now been made for her.
Ms. Clay says, the water leaks in her rental property, have just about flooded her out. "I've had so many floods and leaks over three years," she says. "I've talked to my landlord about it several times, he's come out.. I've even hired a plumber myself."
And then, she noticed something strange. "Actually, my daughter was the one first, starting to get sick," she says.
Soon, Ms. Clay was getting sick, too. She checked under her sink, and found something shocking. "Grass is growing in different spots under the sink," she noted.
She found a huge mushroom there, and we were there when she pulled up the floor of the cabinet for the first time. "Oh my God," she screamed. There was a mushroom cluster growing underneath the floor.
It was only the tip of the iceberg.. mold was everywhere in the duplex. Tin foil blocked a hole in the wall to keep mice out.
Ms. Clay says she has called the landlord Frank Brogden many times.. one time, when the wet ceiling collapsed. "It fell out, and maybe a week later, the same thing happened," she remembers. "He had to come back and do it again."
Emily O'Donnell with Legal Aid of East Tennessee says, according to state law, landlords are responsible for maintaining water pipes and fixing leaks not caused by a tenant. "If there is damage from the water or a resulting mold issue," she says, "the landlord is responsible for taking care of that, too."
Ms. O'Donnell says, landlords are required by law to "make any repairs and put and keep the rented premises in a fit an habitable condition." Obviously," she says, "if it's condemnable, it is neither fit nor habitable."
We looked into this property, and found that owner Frank Brogden owes thousands of dollars in back taxes.. almost 3 thousand dollars to the city, and 33-hundred to the county. When we called Brodgen to ask about the problems with the dwelling, he told us "there are not any problems," and promptly hung up on us.
Meanwhile, the city building inspector is forcing Clay and her daughter to move out.. She said she was told "he can't keep us living in these conditions." She and her daughter plan to move in with her brother temporarily.
She also says Brogden was there when the inspector gave his report.
"He walked away," she remembers.
The Hamilton County Assessor of Property's office tells me, proceedings to auction the house off for the back taxes will begin next week. That is a year-long process..
Meanwhile, if you're in the same situation as Clay, document everything with pictures and receipts, and call code inspectors immediately.
By Calvin Sneed