INDIANAPOLIS -- Call 6 Investigates was able to help a single mother get $1,600 back from her landlord after discovering a mold infestation in her apartment.
Tori Rice works at a gas station and can’t afford much.
So, when she saw a Craigslist ad for an apartment on North Carrollton that she could afford, she jumped at the chance.
“I paid him $1,800 in cash,” said Rice.
Rice said during the walk-through, the property manager agreed to fix many of the issues she pointed out and even threw in a couple of extra rooms in the basement apartment at no additional cost.
But shortly after moving in, it rained, and that’s when Rice noticed a big problem.
“That’s covered in black mold, and then you can obviously see where there’s been leakage coming down the wall,” said Rice. “As soon as I saw the black mold, I saw obviously these are not good living conditions for me and my kids. My daughter already has asthma problems. If I was to keep her in this house, she'd be really sick or end up dead."
Rice said the property management only offered to cut out the mold and repaint the apartment.
So, the single mother contacted Call 6 Investigates.
"All I want is my money back, or for me to move to another unit where I know there's no black mold, he told me no," said Rice.
Call 6 Investigates called the number on the Craigslist ad and spoke with a property manager.
“If it’s something the board of health says we have to address, we have no problem addressing that,” said Darryl Finkton with JD Properties and Investments.
After Call 6 Investigates got involved, the Marion County Public Health Department came out for an inspection and issued a scathing report that deemed the unit not habitable because of mold throughout and defective electrical wiring.
The health department also ordered Tori Rice to leave immediately for her own health and safety.
“Can she get her money back and just move out?” Call 6 Investigates Kara Kenney asked the property manager.
Days after the phone call, the property manager gave Tori Rice $1,600 of her money back.
Now, Tori Rice is looking for a new, safe place to call home.
Next time, she will be more cautious when scoping out apartments.
“I’m definitely making sure I know what I’m getting myself into,” said Rice.
CALL 6 | What are your rights as a renter?
RENTER RIGHT #1 - You have the right to a clean, safe and habitable property
Landlords are typically required to maintain plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems, and appliances.
RENTER RIGHT #2 - You have the right to repairs within a reasonable time frame
If you notify your landlord in writing, you have the right to get repairs made in a reasonable time frame.
Indiana Code does not designate a particular time frame for maintenance issues. However, it often depends on whether it’s an emergency or not.
RENTER RIGHT #3 - You have the right to a full accounting of your security deposit
If you do move out, give the landlord your new address.
You have a right to know, after vacating a property, what your landlord has done with your security deposit. They’re required to provide you an itemized statement within 45 days.
RENTER RIGHT #4- You have the right to fight back in court
You have the right to file a lawsuit against your landlord. Most landlord-tenant disputes end up in small claims courts because of the lower dollar amounts involved.
RENTER RIGHT #5- You don’t have the right to withhold rent
If you fail to pay your rent, the apartment complex may call you into court for back rent, damages to the apartment and eviction.
The Marion County Public Health Department says if a tenant stops paying rent, that can severely limit what the agency can do to help.
RENTER RIGHT #6- You have a right to call the health department
“A landlord can’t evict you for calling the health department,” said Brian Dunkel of the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic. “A landlord can’t change the locks or shut off utilities simply because they don’t like you, or even if you haven’t paid your rent.”
RENTER RIGHT #7- You have the right to move
If the repairs are not being done, and it’s not a habitable property, you can vacate the property. If you do move out, you are effectively terminating that lease.
RESOURCES FOR RENTERS: