Along with a tool belt, I’ll be needing a mask.

One thing you might not want to discover is that inside your kitchen wall is a major leak and that basically that wall is full of swollen, wet wood and mold. And maybe a few mushrooms.

I’m not talking shiitake, either.

The other day a tenant called to report brown water seeping out from the wall near where the counter meets the wall and that her photos that were taped all over that wall had been mysteriously falling off. I went down there to check it out and found the paint bubbling. Um, yeah something is very bad here. The plumber came to check it out. I won’t get into the drama that comprises me trying to get an ANSWER out of the plumbing company but needless to say, it involved multiple calls and a fed up call to the building owners to come in heavy handed with them. I still didn’t hear back from anyone and was freaking out a bit. The current tenant is moving out today. The new tenant is moving in on Tuesday. The window of time to fix this problem is small and yet NO ONE WILL TELL ME WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON.

Maybe this would have been better handled if I did not have such acute PMS at the moment. Ahem.

Anyhow, finally the plumber came out again to further assess the damage and guess what he did? Without warning he tore the wall off! TORE. IT. OFF. While the current tenant is trying to pack and clean her apartment. That is very inconvenient. (Understatement.)

It’s a disgusting mess. He showed me the leak, explained about pipes and the seriousness of this disaster using plumber terms- all of which I didn’t completely follow but I got the jist. The wall needs to be dried out, rebuilt, the piping needs to be completely overhauled, an environmental cleaner needs to be hired to dry out the wood and assess it for mold. I was in there for less than ten minutes and I left with a headache. With the apartment door open I could smell the mold from the top of the stairs before I’d even reached the floor.

Last I checked black mold is toxic and VERY BAD. Maybe it’s not black mold but whatever it is it is nasty.

So I called the owners with the plumbers prodding (wow, that sounds dirty) only to get their voice mail. I left a clear message that we had a SITUATION HERE and waited for them to call back. At the very least I thought they should compensate the tenant for having to find other accommodations on her last night there, especially since this is no fault of her own and it is potentially black mold. You can’t fuck with that. When the landlord called me back, I think she was trying to be calming but it sounded a little condescending. “It will all get fixed” and “I’ve seen worse” (I sent her photos) and “The plumbers will get in there and fix it. They will work at it until it is all done.” I wasn’t so hopeful seeing as how it took three calls and one from the owners just to get the plumbers to actually deal with the situation. It’s not like I was reporting a dripping faucet. There is water in the walls for the love of donuts!

I’m kind of worked up over the whole thing. I’m inconveniencing multiple tenants during this disaster- the current tenant in Apartment Mold, her neighbor who shares a kitchen wall with her, the woman who lives above her and the couple that lives next door to her. Those two can’t use their kitchen sinks for an undetermined amount of time because every time they run water up there it drips into the wall making it impossible for the wall to dry out. And I’m holding off on calling the new tenant to delay his move in date depending on how fast everyone works to fix this major problem.

This is a very old building and things like this are bound to happen. My issue right now is trying to disseminate information that isn’t being delivered to me and to take care of my tenants. I got the owners to cough up $150 extra for the tenant who was living in Apartment Mold on top of returning her deposit before she leaves the country. Small victory! But we’ll see what happens with the repairs from here on out. . .

As a bonus, though, since the tenant can’t clean her kitchen upon move out, guess who gets to once all this is said and done? Yep. Me! Fun times as The Super. FUN TIMES.

56 thoughts on “Along with a tool belt, I’ll be needing a mask.

  1. OMG – that is really disgusting. Sometimes, things swept under the rug are better left there. Because I just don’t want to know. Blech!

  2. OMG: Doesn’t seem like the owners know the seriousness of the situation. Or maybe they already knew about it and tried the bandage approach before. Good thing that lady’s moving out.

  3. Ugg ugg ugg. I have seen my fair share of leaks this week but also at my condo a few years back my neighbors pipes leaked into my kitchen causing pretty much the same disaster. We had to tear out the cabinets and the cieling and the lights. Have I mentioned this week how much I love ownership?

    I do have to say that it does get fixed. Try to have the owners *positive* outlook and remember it will eventually all be cleared up. Of course my kitchen took 3 months 🙂

  4. I have to tell you, while apartment managing sounds like an awful job, it sure does lend itself to great blogging! Also, do you use Angie’s List (do they have it in Seattle?)? I’ve found it invaluable for finding good house repair companies (plumbers especially).

  5. Just to be clear, the landlords are very fair and aren’t the ones who cut corners. They had no idea what was in that wall. No one did until it showed outward signs by the wall bubbling like that.

  6. Oh this is terrible! We had black mold in our attic and it was hell to get out of there. And yes, we had masks. You know the kind that the military use when going into a gas chamber? That is similar to the mask that I used.
    Good luck with this.
    I laughed out loud when you mentioned mushrooms though. LOL

  7. We just had a tenant move out in the middle of the night a few weeks ago. She left meat in the fridge and the utilities off and it’s over 100 degrees in there. Maggots. Upon maggots. Upon maggots. I just threw up a little in my mouth.

    Oh and bonus over here: there was a water leak in the bathroom she didn’t tell us about and now all of the carpet in the hall plus part of two bedrooms are saturated. We had to get one of those all night restoration crews in. Goodbye $1,000. $1,000!!! And that’s just for starters.

    Please send rum.

  8. This would be my worst nightmare. I love old buildings/houses, but then I get very concerned about the things going on behind my walls that I can’t see. Neurotic – yes.

    Good luck with all of the repairs. I hope they are quick and good.

  9. Sonds just awful and I blame it ALL on PMS. It screws with me too. It makes everything seem worse.
    None of this is your fault, ya know. If it were me, I would call the new tenant as it sounds like this may take a while, I would just let them know about the problem, so they will be prepared. Good luck with all of it!

  10. I didn’t want to laugh at this post, but your recount of the details was so entertaining. For some reason, I kept thinking about LOST…you’re like Jack, constantly having to lead your island’s tenants to safety. I hope you get rescued soon!

  11. Oh, crap. I have really bad mold in my bathroom (old building, no fan), and now I’m wondering if the fact that I’ve had two colds in about 5 weeks is related to that.

  12. Wow that is something. I don’t get why the owners did not respond immediately. I mean it is their investment and don’t they want to fix their investment and their reputation.

    Sorry that you have to deal with stupid people. I know how it can ruin a perfectly good PMS week!

  13. I’m moving out of my (really, really) old apartment in a few weeks (thank GOD) — at least you’re trying to help them out and do the best you can! My landlord/manager on the other hand is completely useless…and he owns the place. You’d think they’d be right on top of the situation to keep their investment!

  14. Um, yes, I can atest to how shit-tay plumbers can be…I married one.


    Man that place provides more drama than an afternoon of soaps.

  15. ACK!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You win the mold story of the year.

    That totally sucks. Especially now that you have to clean the kitchen.


  16. Oh begeezus, I’d be ripping my hair out. The fella’s gonna have to give you a nice long massage after the week you’ve been having.

    And…for the love of donuts?? LOL, I can’t even begin to tell you how funny that was to me.

  17. Don’t fuck with the black mold.

    This is one of my worst nightmares about owning a house. I’m sorry you have to deal with this…at least you aren’t financially responsible for de-molding, replumbing and fixing the wall…THAT would suck butt.

  18. Depending on the length of time the plumber estimates it’s going to take to repair the problem and how the system is run, you might ask if they can put in temporary shut-off valves from the adjoining apartments so those folks can still use their plumbing. As for the kitchen cleanup, between the mold guys and whoever ends up putting the wall back up, you really shouldn’t have too much to worry about. Good luck.

  19. That really sucks kiddo.

    I’m not sure how I’d manage the whole Super thing. Pretty sure I’d have a nervous breakdown.

  20. OMG that is totally disgusting! And how much do you rock for getting her an extra $150 back on top of her deposit?? Hopefully they will get done before the new tenant moves in, so you don’t have to deal with that hassle.

  21. Ugh. Maybe it’s the mold rage that’s causing your tenants to wierd out all the time…

    Um… Just a thought… Maybe you might consider making another “doctor” visit… Seems to have been the least stressful thing recently… Get yur mind on other things… And treat yourself with some super soft tissues 😉

  22. Urp. We’ve had roof leaks on and off, and I fear that our house is just filled with writhing, pulsating, black mold that is biding its time and plotting to take us over when we least expect it.

    At least you didn’t find a corpse in the walls. On second thought, that would probably have been easier to clean up.

  23. OMG what a mess!!! It reminds of the time a pipe broke in my sister’s building flooding her entire apartment. It took months for them to be back to living normally. I hope your situation resolves quickly.

  24. Oh man….to think she had been living along side of that is…. :: shivers :: ewwies.

    Big hugs to you, Siz. And I must say, you are a fantastic Super. My last super would have cared less about mold…even if it was toxic 😦

  25. Oof. I realize this is not the point and I should be focusing on your OWN woes, but all that story did was terrify me about what might be living within my own walls. I’ve got a situation in my shower that is not pretty, and I don’t even want to know what sort of water damage is going on behind the cracking, broken sheet of fake tile.

    On the plus side, at least you don’t own the building! I’d take cleaning the place over paying for the repairs any day.

    In any case, good luck!

  26. In Hawaii, I had to deal with three cases of this right in a row with water leaks/black mold in the units. The laws are pretty strict in Hawaii in that you can’t force the tenant to stay in the unit and you have to either provide them with an alternate location or pay for them to stay in a hotel. And in all three cases, the owners didn’t have insurance to cover the damage, so it was pretty pricey b/c all of the mold had to be specially removed (to avoid airborne toxins) and all of the affected areas had to be replaced. Any time there’s a leak in the wall, they always have to rip through it, though he should’ve at least let you know that before just doing it.

  27. Pingback: Let’s Have Some “Closure” « Sizzle Says

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