Lake Grove family battles landlord over mold
BY PATRICK WHITTLE | email@example.com February 21, 2008 Article tools
The mold at Jo-Elynn Vega’s rented home makes breathing so difficult that, she says, the family has to wear medical masks inside the house and her daughter began coughing up blood recently.
They have been looking for a new place to live for months. But now the Vegas’ dispute with their landlord over cleaning up the mold at the single-family Lake Grove home has left them with eight days to find a new place to live.
Jo-Elynn and her husband, Robert, moved in last June and began complaining about the mold to landlord George Rhein in July. They withheld rent from Rhein starting in December, claiming that toxic mold has been growing on the home’s walls, ceilings and carpets. The mold was deemed toxic by a company the family hired, AMBIC Building Inspection Consultants of Long Island, which said it was due to active water leaks.
Rhein brought the family to court, claiming they owed him more than $4,000 in unpaid rent and utility bills. The Vegas must move out by Feb. 29 under a settlement reached yesterday at District Court in Patchogue.
But family members said they intend to sue Rhein and will try to get the house, at 12 Hardwick Pl., condemned so no one else can live there.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s unacceptable. We’re people in here, not animals,” said Robert, 47, a building engineer.
Rhein, of Lake Grove, and his attorney,