Conflicting stories have emerged between staff of Mountain Village Apartments in Jefferson and a resident over damages sustained to her apartment during a December rain and wind event.
Mountain Village is a 60 unit subsidized apartment complex owned and operated by Brantley Properties, which owns 41 apartment complexes in the Carolinas housing over 3,000 occupants, the organization’s Web site stated.
Kristin Ryling, a disabled resident, has lived in the subsidized housing for nearly five years and said her apartment has endured several sizeable leaks since she moved in.
The first incident, Ryling said, occurred two to three months after she moved to the area from Texas in 2004. A leak that had started near the balcony door of her apartment had leaked onto the carpet, which was later replaced. Ryling said that numerous other leaks in the living room, kitchen closet, and bedroom have caused damage to the carpet and various possessions. On one occasion, a leak in the master bedroom had damaged the bed’s mattress and linings. Ryling elaborated on that particular leak by stating that the leak had caused water stains in the ceiling and rendered the mattress useless, which is why she disposed of it.
Ryling said that other water leaks were visible on her apartment’s ceiling but stated that they had since been covered by the maintenance staff with Killz paint. Black blotchy spots cover small portions of the closets wall, although it has yet to be determined by officials if the substance is a form of mold or mildew.
The most recent leak occurred on Dec. 11, Ryling had left the previous day and was visiting in Texas, the building’s management stated. Ryling confirmed that she was out of town between Dec. 10 and Jan. 21. Mountain Village’s staff said they attempted to contact Ryling on numerous occasions to inform her of the leak and told her on Jan. 3 via telephone that a leak had occurred. Ryling said she was unaware that the leak had caused what she considers significant damage until she returned to the apartment on Jan. 21.
“They made it to sound like there was just a single leak in the kitchen with a bucket under it, and I did not think I needed to come back so soon for something as small as that,” she said.
The staff reportedly requested to enter the apartment to make repairs on numerous occasions but Ryling refused the offer, a source with the building’s management said. Neither management nor staff is allowed to enter a resident’s apartment without permission, a source stated.
An apartment situated directly underneath Ryling’s also sustained damages during the storm. According to the building’s management, the resident below Ryling has not experienced any problems with mold or mildew because they promptly cleaned the area and removed saturated materials from the damaged area, a task that Ryling did not complete. Management said her failure to clean and remove wet material is why Ryling’s apartment developed any mildew or mold.
Ryling countered this argument by stating that she was not there to clean the water drenched area and would have done so if she knew how severe the situation really was.
Regional Manager Gaynell Parker reiterated that she and the Mountain Village staff requested to enter Ryling’s apartment on five separate occasions but Ryling declined the requests.
It was not until Ryling had contacted the Post that they were allowed entrance into the apartment, Parker said. Ryling rejected Parker’s claim by stating that she was not there the first three times the staff attempted to enter her apartment and therefore was not present to let them in to make any repairs.
Parker also stated that Ryling was informed of the leak when it happened but stated that she did not provide any instructions as to how to handle the situation in terms of relocating her possessions. Once the molded or mildewed material was located it was promptly removed, Parker stated.
“We have done everything we have been supposed to do,” Parker said in reference to the situation.
Brantley Properties’ Vice President Terry Nutt confirmed that high winds and rain contributed to the damages that occurred in Ryling’s residence. He also explained how a previous December storm that occurred in 2007 had caused similar problems and how repairs were made.
Nutt said that additional repairs will be made to the damaged portion of the building and a higher grade of shingles will be used, which he believes may prevent future leaks or damages.
Numerous bouts with insurance companies were necessary to get the damaged carpet replaced which became water logged and emitted a foul odor, Ryling said. The numerous reports of water damage were the reason why her renter’s insurance was ultimately cancelled, Ryling said.
Ryling said she was told by management that she could face eviction because she had performed maintenance on her own apartment and failed to report needed maintenance to staff along with other violations.
During the Monday afternoon interview, a repairman entered the apartment to begin maintenance to the water damaged ceilings. Ryling said she would comply with the staff’s repair request so she would not be accused of impeding their efforts. Ryling also said that management had ordered her to move some of her possessions out of the way so repairs could be made, a task Ryling said she found nearly impossible to perform due to her disabilities.
A stack of clothing and other household items from the closet have been set out on Ryling’s balcony, many of which have become water logged as a result of the leaks, Ryling said. On Tuesday, Ryling said that she would have to temporarily relocate to another residence to allow maintenance crews time to reconstruct the apartment’s ceiling and resurface the walls. In the mean time, Ryling said she will likely stay with relatives in Texas.
Parker rebutted Ryling’s comment by stating that she was never asked to leave her premises and the apartment is still habitable as the moldy material in question had been removed.
Ryling found the smell of bleach that was used to clean the apartment to be unbearable and cited that as a reason why she could not stay in her apartment. She is also afraid that mold spores may still be present in the apartment, which she believes could be detrimental to her health.
Ryling said she would have liked to find a peaceful resolution to the situation but explained that her patience is waning and she feels the staff has done little to alleviate her plight.
“This is what I don’t like, you can’t stay nice, you have to get forceful,” Ryling said about the apartment’s management and the current situation.
Preferably, Ryling would like to remain at Mountain Village if a suitable apartment that is in good condition can be provided, she said.
Nutt stated that it is not the desire of Brantley Properties to remove Ryling from her apartment and said they are willing to work with her in any possible way.
“We want her to be happy and we feel we provide a nice property where she can be.”