PHOTOS: Black mold destroys a family’s Las Vegas apartment while on vacation
LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – A Las Vegas apartment tenant returned from a trip to California on Sunday to find her home was overrun with black mold and she had lost access to everything she possesses while an investigation is taking place.
LaToya Barnes, 33, her husband Dante Gilmer, 31, and three young children had to leave their University Gardens Apartments unit. It’s no longer a safe place, with walls that were once white but are now speckled with black. It looks like there’s hair growing on it, Barnes said.
Since then, the family has been staying with friends and using AirBnB rentals.
Photos taken by Barnes appear to show mold that has spread throughout the apartment. Barnes says there’s also a cockroach infestation.
The mold had been there before, but Barnes said the resort called the problem mold when she reported it. A promise to “wipe” the mold was never kept. Prior to the trip to California, Barnes said the mold was on the ceiling, in the bathroom and under the carpet in her daughter’s bedroom.
She alerted management that there was a leak in the shower before she left, but was told there were other emergencies before this issue.
Three weeks later, she returned to a nightmare. “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life,” Barnes said. Her children no longer have a home.
She recounted the events over three phone calls Thursday as she coped with the situation, culminating in a trip to the doctor’s office where she had her children checked for respiratory problems which returned after she returned to the hospital. Sunday apartment. The problems disappeared during the trip to California.
She remembers going into the apartment. “The stove light is on, but it is dark. And the walls are black with hair,” Barnes said.
“My daughter was scared, because she needed to go to the bathroom,” Barnes recalled.
She has two daughters, one 5 years old and one who just turned one, and a 2-year-old son.
Barnes was distraught, thinking about everything that was falling apart and how she would pay to replace the beds, the clothes – everything she owned.
“This situation really hit rock bottom for me,” Barnes said. She is working on creating a GoFundMe page for help.
A spokeswoman for the apartment complex said the locks on the apartment were changed when they went to check the leak and they had to call a locksmith to gain entry. It’s a violation of his lease, the spokeswoman said.
Details of when the lock was changed are unclear. Barnes’ husband Gilmer returned to Las Vegas after a week to change clothes. Then he saw the mold – he apparently had trouble getting through the door due to mold at the time, but the family stayed in California to deal with the issues there.
On Friday, Barnes has an appointment with a lawyer.
She says lawyers have seen the photos, but they don’t know the details of anything that happened between her and the apartment complex. She said she stopped paying her rent in March.
A University Gardens official confirmed Barnes was a resident, but could not provide further information as Barnes contacted an attorney. A representative from Westland Apartments, which owns the resort, responded Thursday with a statement:
Westland University Gardens takes all appropriate measures to provide a safe community and environment for our residents, maintenance technicians, staff and vendors.
Mrs. Barnes informed us of a leak in her bathroom on March 22, 2022. She did not give us permission to enter but instead insisted on being home during maintenance. We tried to enter and understand the situation but the resident was not present. Staff made a second attempt to enter the unit the following day, but the resident was not present to open the door. The resident informed management that she had left the state for an emergency. In all of the conversations between the staff and the resident, there was no mention of mold in the unit. The resident returned on 10/04 and reported that her unit now had mold. Office staff eventually gained access to the unit and immediately brought in an approved outside vendor to address any mold issues. The unit was not habitable and the resident was offered an exact copy of her unit in the same complex. The resident rejected the offer and left. The resident returned the next day and became angry and aggressive when she learned that she could not enter her unit due to possible dangers. She then verbally and physically assaulted the management staff. The resident was not the subject of any eviction proceedings and did not withhold rent in March. Ms Barnes recently renewed her lease with University Gardens in February 2022. Westland wants to settle this unfortunate matter with the resident as soon as possible.
— Dena Lerner, spokesperson for Westland Apartments
Barnes had another version of the confrontation on Monday and said she was simply trying to keep office staff away during a heated argument.
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