News 4 looks for answers from property owners after residents complain of mold, mice, spiders and forgotten maintenance requests

Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 10:28 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - A property peppered with broken fixtures, peeling tile and bugs is leaving some St. Louis residents feeling frustrated and hopeless. Problems have run so rampant at one local apartment complex that News 4 was told a resident had to be the one to mow the property’s lawn.

All of these issues are occurring at Etzel Apartments in North City.

In early May, News 4 was contacted by Breonna Harris, a tenant at Etzel Apartments. She shared pictures of a unit below her that looked like it was covered in mold from floor to ceiling.

“I just looked at it like in disgust,” Harris said.

Harris has lived at Etzel Apartments for nearly a decade and has lived above what looks to be a moldy apartment for more than a year.

“We’ve been off and on sick for the last two months. The congestion, and it’s hard to breathe, that could be caused by mold,” Harris explained.

News 4 also talked to Portia Jefferson in May. She said she’s dealt with a broken furnace and staircase for months.

“It’s [the furnace] not running how it’s supposed to, so it’s a little cold at night still. I can’t warm my children,” Jefferson said.

The staircase is a big concern for Jefferson as well, something she said she’s requested maintenance to fix for months now.

“My mom can’t come over to enjoy her grandchildren. She can barely get up and down the steps because they won’t come fix the rail,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson’s other issue, she said, is coming from the weeds outside her home. She sent News 4 pictures of massive spiders in and out of her house.

“Those are where the bugs are hiding, the ants, the mice are there, the spiders are there,” Jefferson explained.

The mother of two showed a picture of her daughter’s bit and inflamed lip after she said she was bit by a spider.

“Every time I see one it gets bigger and bigger,” Jefferson said.

In May, News 4 went to the property management office to get answers. The complex is owned by Vatterott Properties. The property manager in the office at the time told us to call a corporate number. The call went to voicemail and no one has called back. Some work has been done, however, since News 4 called.

“Since you guys have been here they came, they reinstalled it,” Jefferson said referring to her staircase.

Jefferson said her furnace is still broken, though.

“Now the excuse is ‘oh well you’re not turning your furnace on anyways’,” Jefferson added.

As for the tall grass and weeds sprouting out of control, residents said the freshly cut grass seen Wednesday came from a tenant who mowed and landscaped himself. Harris also said the managers cleaned and gutted out the unit below her that contained a lot of mold.

On Wednesday, News 4 tried calling Vatterott Properties again, but the call went to voicemail a second time.

“Say something. We have to. We are tired of being treated the way we’re being treated and living the way we’re living,” Jefferson said.

Harris, who’s moving out in a few weeks, said she will never put herself or her kids in another predicament.

News 4 checked Vatterott Properties’ Google Reviews, which is also tied to Vatterott Construction. Per Google, they have a 2.4/5 rating. Many people have left reviews with only one star. The overwhelming consensus from those reviews is that property managers simply do not respond to calls or requests for service.