OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As black mold crawls from one Oklahoma City family’s utility closet to the main bedroom, it now leaves them gasping for fresh air.

Photo goes with story
Mold found in the utility closet of a Forest Creek Apartments unit. Image courtesy of Almetra Bailey.

In April, Forest Creek Apartments resident, Almetra Bailey said she noticed an air conditioning leak cause a growth in mold by her bedroom.

Bailey immediately notified her leasing office, but was told, “Our inspectors will not be able to certify if you have mold in the unit since they are not certified mold specialists. If you want the unit tested for mold you will have to hire a mold specialist.”

Bailey hired a mold specialist for over $200 from Mold Busters USA, LLC on May 2.

The report shows there is stachybotrys (mold), ulocladium (fungi) and “others” in Bailey’s apartment. The report indicates there is 65,000 spores of stachybotrys per cm2.

According to Bailey, the leasing office has been shown the report, but no changes have been made in her apartment.

Bailey has also asked for a reimbursement for the cost of the mold specialist, but she has not received any form of payment either.

Nearly three months living with mold and she has contracted a sinus infection where she is forced to use a daily nasal spray for relief.

Bailey’s sinus infection is the least of her concerns, though, as she has two children, five and 11, living in her home as well.

“I’m afraid of what is going on long-term to my children,” she said.

Bailey has also contacted the Oklahoma Housing Authority and Section 8 Housing to inform them of the situation. She said Section 8 Housing has completed inspections in which the complex has failed three times.

The Oklahoma Housing Authority directed Bailey to their website for more information, but nothing else has been said, according to Bailey.

Bailey feels as if she has exhausted every possible avenue and is out of options.

As of Monday, she feels the only avenue left for her to take is to move back to Tulsa, but she would prefer not to as she is trying to grow a life in OKC. She also said she doesn’t have the financial means to move again.

KFOR tried reaching out to Forest Creek Apartments for a statement, but the office was closed just before noon. Their phone line also would not accept calls at the time.

However, an OKC landlord/tenant attorney, Brian Buswell, was able to give legal insight for those in similar situations.

Buswell said under Oklahoma law, landlords must maintain a residence that is considered a “livable habitat.”

“If you have mold or something else in your house, of course, that makes it not habitable,” added Buswell.

A report like this must be made within 10 days to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which will then be taken to Section 8 Housing for inspection.

“They have a certain period of time to respond, and I almost think it’s maybe 30 days or something, but if you don’t get help on it under the administrative law, which HUD would be under administrative law, then you can go to the Circuit Court or the Ninth Circuit Court, the County Court and file a claim there against HUD,” stated Buswell.

To do so though, Buswell told KFOR it takes “a lot of money.”

Buswell suggests looking for legal aid as those attorneys can help set up a pro bono case, but the wait list for a legal aid is lengthy.

Buswell also said taking this kind of case to court will take time to see a solution.

If you’re looking for legal aid in Oklahoma, click here.