Mushroom cultivation and other problems encountered in NLR apartments | KLRT
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Another apartment complex in central Arkansas is unfit to live in according to people paying to stay there. A seventeen-page report released on Friday outlines the conditions inside apartments at Jefferson Manor.
Images and video provided by Arkansas Renters United show why every renter we spoke to on Friday is counting down the days until they can move out.
“We’re just trying to make sure something happens. This is why we speak out,” said Darlene Lewis, who has lived at Jefferson Manor for eight months.
Lewis called Arkansas Renters United, which spent three months finding hazards, infestations and unlivable conditions in apartments at the complex. The group’s community organizer, Al Allen, helped document flooding, sewer problems, infestations, and more. She even found photos of fungi growing on the wall of a tenant‘s 2nd floor bathroom.
Allen said she sent a copy of the full report to Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, the contract administrator for HUD on Jefferson Manor, and to the New Jersey owners who she adds also own Big Country Chateau.
“I just know the taste and smell of mold now that I’m working here,” Allen said.
Vivian Allen has lived at Jefferson Manor for seven years, but says things have been worse lately. She says her bathroom ceiling has been leaking for two years. She claims to have informed maintenance over and over again for several months.
“I have no other recourse than what I did,” Vivian said, moved by the state of her home.
According to her testimony, the interview eventually inspected and confirmed the issue she said, but it has yet to be resolved. Vivian is currently in a hotel after living in a sewer leak for days.
“I had to lay down sheets to go to the bathroom, so I wouldn’t break my neck trying to get through the sewers,” Vivian recalls.
Darlene Lewis lived in an apartment she said had a mold problem for four months before being moved to another unit. She said the new unit was right next door which worries her as she says she can already smell the mold again.
Lewis alleges her grandson who also lived in the flats went to hospital with an upper respiratory illness when he was just five months old, and she believes mold or mildew was the cause likely.
“I feel bad for the mothers with the four or five kids who just can’t get up and walk away. They have to stay here and go through this,” Lewis lamented.
Our station contacted the owners of the apartment, Apex Equity Group, for comment, but the responding property manager did not believe anyone would be available until the following week, as it was late Friday afternoon when we called.
Last year, the Arkansas Legislature passed Law 1052 which affects the rights and duties of landlords and tenants.
Most notable are the Habitability Standards which have become a requirement of all tenancy agreements from November 1, 2021. These standards establish baseline requirements in all rental properties whereby tenants must ensure that they are supplied. Law 1052 is the first statewide rental requirement to be established in the state.
Arkansas is historically a pro-landlord state, which means it has few written laws setting out requirements for rental properties. The new requirements are as follows.
- an available source of hot and cold running water;
- an available source of electricity;
- a source of drinking water;
- a sanitary sewer system and plumbing in accordance with the building and housing codes in effect at the time of installation;
- a functional roof and building envelope;
- a functional heating and air conditioning system to the extent that the heating and air conditioning system served the premises at the time the landlord and tenant entered into the lease or rental agreement.
An owner is deemed to be in compliance in the following circumstances:
- if, at the time of taking possession, the landlord provides the tenant with a written form to list the defects and the tenant signs the form without noting any defect and takes possession or fails to return the form within 2 business days; Where
- for defects occurring subsequently, if the tenant provides written notice but the non-compliance either could not be remedied because the tenant denied access to the landlord for the purposes of remediation Where was caused by a deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of his family, another occupant or visitor of the premises, or any person other than the owner or his agent.
To learn more about Arkansas tenants and landlords law, go to Arkansas.gov/consumer-protection.