Helping a TCHC Tenant Get Safe Housing

1 May 2021

In January of 2020, Sam, a TCHC tenant, contacted us to complain that he had been displaced from his apartment due to mould.

Sam told us that the mould had been present in his unit since August of 2019, after a flood in his building earlier that summer, which he said TCHC had neglected to look into. Sam also stressed that after he brought the issue to TCHC’s attention, it had taken some steps to remove the mould, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

While this was happening, TCHC was working to relocate Sam—and all other households living on his floor—to other TCHC buildings in order to complete unrelated repairs. Sam asked for a letter from TCHC stating that his unit was free of mould and safe to live in until he was relocated. He moved out in the meantime, fearing that the conditions in his unit could endanger his health.

TCHC inspected Sam’s unit but reported no signs of visible mould and confirmed remediation had taken place one month earlier. TCHC said there was no reason Sam could not stay in his apartment but did not give him a letter clearing the unit. We contacted TCHC to ask about Sam’s request for a letter clearing his unit for occupancy.

We pointed out that Sam continued to be displaced from his home because he had not yet received official confirmation from TCHC that it was safe for him to stay there.

After hearing from us, TCHC asked its Environmental Health Unit to inspect Sam’s apartment for safety; we requested a copy of the findings from that inspection, as well as all documents pertaining to mould in Sam’s unit.

Through those documents, we discovered that the initial remediation job had only been partially completed. Since the remainder of the jobinvolved removing vinyl throughout the unit, TCHC had decided to put the project on hold until Sam had moved to a new building.

Further, the findings from the Environmental Health Unit’s inspection revealed that, although there appeared to be no current health hazard (based on mould type), there were significantly elevated spore levels in the unit, suggesting invisible mould growth.

Given these findings, TCHC arranged an expedited relocation for Sam, who was successfully moved to a new apartment.

Why This Matters: Finding mould in your home is very unsettling, because it can lead to serious health issues. Everyone has the right to live in a safe home free of health hazards. If they don’t— and if they raise health and safety concerns with their landlord—they are entitled to have the issue promptly and fully remedied. We helped make sure that TCHC fairly addressed Sam’s concerns.

All names are changed to protect the privacy of complainants.