St. Charles mother says moldy apartment left her and her newborn sick, after lack of occupancy inspection

The report showed high levels of multiple types of black mold and outdoor mold inside several rooms of Carlisle’s apartment.
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 8:28 AM CDT
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ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV) - With thousands of people house-hunting across the metro after this summer’s flooding, it’s buyer beware. Renting could be more cost-efficient, however, you might get the keys to something you aren’t expecting. That’s what happened to one St. Charles woman who said a missed, bureaucratic step, caused deeper issues.

It was a moving day disaster as Emily Carlisle remembers everything she first saw inside her Glen at Bogey Hills apartment in May 2021.

“There was a smell, a musty smell, and that there was a leak in the ceiling, and I could see there was a stain in the ceiling,” Carlisle said.

It’s a nuisance, Carlisle said, made her sick.

“I went immediately back to the leasing office saying there was a weird smell and if somebody could come to check it out that would be fantastic and they never did,” Carlisle said.

Carlisle said she repeatedly made maintenance requests for a leaking ceiling, water damage and her front door stuck shut to its frame. Her urgency grew a month later when she found out she was pregnant and had nowhere else to go.

“I had my baby, came home, and she constantly had a stuffy nose a week after she was born, then she started coughing,” Carlisle said.

Carlisle told News 4 she took her newborn to several doctors and specialists for tests. All of them came back negative. She said the doctors told her it could be the environment in which they were living. That’s when Carlisle called Precision Analysis Environmental Consultants.

“Day-to-day we do asbestos, lead and mold testing,” Ryan Spell said.

Spell is the vice president of Precision Analysis Environmental Consultants. He’s been doing this type of testing for decades. His inspector, Bryce King, tested Carlisle’s unit.

“You know that something’s going on and it’s not something you want inside a living space,” King said.

King’s report showed high levels of multiple types of black mold and outdoor mold inside several rooms of Carlisle’s apartment. Levels the experts said were far above the recommended limit.

“Anyone who sees that anywhere should really investigate what’s going on,” Spell said.

Upset and shocked, Carlisle said she took the test results straight to property management.

“They pretty much said there’s nothing we can do,” Carlisle said.

News 4 found Missouri doesn’t even require mold inspections in homes or apartments, and there’s not much cities and counties can do either.

“Anytime a property for rent turns over, a new tenant’s going to be moving in, we do require an occupancy inspection and certification,” St. Charles City Community Development Director Zach Tusinger, said.

That’s true in St. Charles City, but we found there’s no requirement to inspect for mold. The same goes for St. Louis City and St. Louis County. Inspectors will only test for mold if it’s visible.

“It’s not atypical to get mold complaints,” Tusinger explained.

However, in Carlisle’s case, it turns out a big step was missed. No occupancy inspection was done before Carlisle moved in.

“The reality is people have to contact us to let us know and request those inspections,” Tusinger said.

St. Charles City records show that management, which was Mills Properties at the time, failed to do that.

“If we find out that somebody’s moved in without going through the process, we can revoke the occupancy permit,” Tusinger added.

Carlisle moved in without an inspection, lived in a mold-infested unit according to experts, and the city had no idea.

“I don’t think it’s right that they’re allowing people to live in these types of situations,” Carlisle said.

Carlisle’s since moved out.

News 4 reached out to Mills Properties which managed Glen at Bogey Hills when Carlisle first moved in. We also reached out to Pride Rock Capital Partners, which currently manages the complex, but neither of them responded for comment.

Experts said there are a few red flags you should look for while apartment hunting. First, if you’re on the first or basement level, check the drainage system. If there’s nowhere for the water to go, mold could show up. Also, if there are watermarks on baseboards, walls or ceilings, there could be mold there too. If any of those areas are plush, there’s water in it. Experts said it’s crucial you get that checked.

“I just want people to know, at the end of the day, I don’t think people should be living in that type of environment because there are long-term effects with mold. I don’t think we’re ever gonna live in an apartment complex again. I think that really traumatized me,” Carlisle said.