A home that’s so damp and moldy that mushrooms grow out of the carpet may not be a healthy environment. This class action is brought by five couples who are members of the military or their spouses who live at McDill Air Force Based in Tampa Florida. The complaint alleges that the companies named as defendants provided housing for service members that was subject to mold and damp and that they would not or could not remediate the mold.
The class for this action is all current and former military personnel and their family members who lived in housing located on McDill Air Force Base that was owned, maintained, managed, or operated by any of the defendants in this case.
The defendants—Michaels Organization, LLC, Michaels Management Services, Inc., Interstate Realty Management Company, AMC East Communities, LLC, Clark Realty Capital, LLC, and Harbor Bay at McDill—own or operate housing facilities for members of the Air Force and Army.
The Air Force leases land and uses private developers to come up with housing and other improvements to revitalize, maintain, and manage Air Force housing communities for a fifty-year period. The rents come from the service members’ basic allowance for housing (BAH) and are automatically withdrawn from their accounts and paid to the housing companies. This keeps service members from being able to withhold rent in order to get the companies to make proper repairs or remediation.
A May 2019 Research Report on Living Conditions of Families in Private Military Housing included surveys of service members at various installations. Of the 105 housed at McDill, more than 54% reported problems with mold.
In fact, mold problems have been bad enough that the Air Force “penalized Defendants in 2019 by cutting the money that Defendants receive through a performance incentive fee.”
When the families have complained about the mold, the complaint says, the companies have (a) denied the existence and severity of the problem, (b) delayed taking action, (c) have conducted tests without sharing the results with the families, and (d) have “engaged in inadequate and shoddy efforts” at remediation. The complaint says that in many instances, they have “only address[ed] visible areas that can be seen, such as, for example, simply painting over moldy or wet areas…”
Some moldy areas were sanded without proper remediation first, which “dispers[ed] air-borne mold spores throughout the residence and contaminat[ed] the entire residence and personal property…” One photo reproduced by the complaint shows mushrooms growing out of the floor and carpet.
On some occasions, families have been put out of their homes and forced to live in motels or other temporary housing, sometimes for weeks at a time. Still the problems continue and the families suffer from headaches, fatigue, rashes, and respiratory problems.
The complaint alleges breach of contract and violation of implied warranty of habitability, among other things.