Tenants say mold issues ignored at Sandy Springs complex

Two tenants who lived in separate apartments said mold problems factored into them breaking their lease at ReNew Sandy Springs. (AJC staff photo)

Several residents at a Sandy Springs apartment complex said property management ignored or prolonged mold problems. Two recent tenants also said mold problems prompted them to break their leases at ReNew Sandy Springs.

Jonathan Leonard said he paid a mold remediation company $300 to evaluate his apartment in August. The consultant said he found high levels of mold in the bedroom closet and areas of concern in the living room and hallway.

Leonard, an executive chef, said he moved into his apartment in 2018 and moved out Wednesday by exercising a clause in his rental agreement. He said the apartment property refused to accept the Full Spectrum Cleaning Solutions assessment.

“If my living environment is uninhabitable, which it is with toxic mold, I can give them written notice and seven days to fix it,” he said.

ReNew Sandy Springs and Trinity Property Consultants which manages the apartment complex didn’t responded to several phone calls and emails from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as well as a visit to the apartment leasing office. The apartment complex is located in the north end of the city.

Images of mold at Raymond Monasterio's former apartment at ReNew Sandy Springs. He says it's the second apartment with mold that he has lived in at Renew. Photo Courtesy Raymond Monasterio.

Recourse for unresolved mold complaints can be tricky. Sheena Haynes, district communications director at Fulton County Board of Health said the county and state don’t have regulations for apartment mold.

Sandy Springs Code Enforcement Manager Yvonne Shaw said the department follows-up on mold complaints from apartment residents. While there are no standard regulations for mold, she said the city has sanitary and property maintenance codes that apartment properties must follow.

“If a resident is concerned about a growth or they see a spot on their ceiling or on their floor, we would send in an inspector to take a look at it,” Shaw said.

If the inspector saw mold and violations of city codes they would issue a notice for the problem to be repaired, Shaw said. In the past when property owners haven’t complied and fixed a problem, the city has taken them to court, she added.

“We can make the case based on our pictures and based on our findings and looking at those different systems or whatever the case is and present that to the judge,” Shaw said. “And usually that’s helpful in winning the case.”

But the ReNew Sandy Springs residents that talked with the AJC said they didn’t know the city could help with their mold problems.

Images of mold at Raymond Monasterio's former apartment at ReNew Sandy Springs. He says it's the second apartment with mold that he has lived in at Renew. Photo Courtesy Raymond Monasterio.

Leonard and his neighbor Daryl Henley, said frequent turnover of property management companies has exacerbated mold issues. Staff encouraged them to stay promising things would improve, they said.

“Every time our lease was almost over, they switched companies,” Henley said. “The new company would say, ‘Sir just give us a chance. We are going to make sure everything is right.’ No matter how many times we complained to corporate they always treated us like a nobody.”

Henley said there’s been recurring water leaks in his apartment since his family moved to ReNew in 2017 starting with a wet carpet. Someone came in to vacuum and clean the carpet after a month of requests, he said.

The cause of the leak was found in 2018 behind the wall of the shower in the bathroom, Henley said. It was repaired but the leak returned and spread to his son’s bedroom closet where mold formed on the ceiling, he added. It was repaired but Henley said he worries that it’s only a temporary fix.

Images of mold at Daryl Henley's apartment at ReNew Sandy Springs. Photo Courtesy Daryl Henley

Raymond Monasterio said his family moved to ReNew in 2016. He was allowed to relocate to another unit in the building last October due to heavy mold, he said.

But Monasterio soon had mold problems in the new apartment. A leak in the air conditioning went unaddressed for seven months, he said, after he reported it to the leasing office in December. Photos appear to show mold in several areas of the apartment.

Monasterio said mold formed in the bedroom, bathroom and closet and hindered his breathing. Maintenance crews came into the apartment in July to apply a bleach spray and other chemicals, he said, and left two machines for days to address the problem.

Monasterio said he and his wife broke their lease and moved to Alpharetta on Aug. 7 after a dispute over a transfer fee from the first apartment. The fee, which Monasterio disputed, increased from about $200 last October to nearly $6,000, he said.

Despite the clause in his lease, Leonard said he expects ReNew to present him with a high bill as well for breaking the rental agreement.

“Even if they screw me, I don’t want this to keep affecting other people,” he said. “This is affecting other people’s health.”

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