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Jacksonville couple dealing with harmful mold in apartment, feel rental property has taken advantage of them

Tom and Joan Howard, who is undergoing cancer treatment, say Shoreline Community Apartments will charge them $1,400 for not giving 60 days notice before moving out.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It's been a nightmare of a year for Tom and Joan Howard. Almost a year after moving into their apartment at Shoreline Community Apartments, they're desperately trying to get out.

"We're getting out of here either way, we're packing our stuff and moving on any mold spores trying to wipe it down before I move it," Tom Howard said. 

The Howard's moved into their unit in the spring of 202, they say they've had water leaks since June of 2021.

Credit: Andrew Badillo
Mold underneath the carpet in the Howard's living room (Top Left), Mold on the living room ceiling from water that leaked through the roof (Top Right), Water damaged outlet in the living room (Bottom Left), Water damaged outlet in the kitchen, Howard said water had previously flown out of it and flooded the kitchen (Bottom Right)

"They (maintenance) would come over and say, ok we're going to fix the roof, not do anything inside and then it would leak again the roof wasn't fixed and this went on until last June. We made numerous inquiries and work orders and we put the work orders in on the portal that they have for management here and they said they can't find them now," Tom Howard said. 

After months of poor conditions the couple called Mark Mongon, an environmental scientist with TCB Envirocorp, Inc., to conduct a mold test.

"We have a very very high mold spore count of 6,400 throughout the whole unit, a typical healthy environment is anywhere between 250 - 400 so that is really really high," Mongon said. 

Mongon conducted the mold test a couple weeks ago.

Credit: Andrew Badillo
Mold report shows a level of Stachybotrys present in the Howard's apartment. This is often referred to as "toxic black mold."

"Known mycotoxins extremely harmful to human health (are present) to have someone who has cancer living in this environment unacceptable they can't stay here," he added. 

Mongon says the report shows a level of Stachybotrys presence in the apartment. Also referred to as "toxic black mold," chronic exposure can cause headaches, diarrhea, memory loss and brain damage. 

The couple say the conditions have been tough to deal with. Joan is currently undergoing cancer treatment and Tom has had respiratory health problems of his own. 

"I get a headache after I vacuumed the rug and my nose would burn and the following morning when I get up I kind of feel like, meh. Today you get internet access to a lot of things you can do some research you can Google what's going on look at this I said holy crow I got a problem and then you call up someone like TCB and they come over and boom you know you got a problem," Tom Howard said.

Credit: Joan Howard
Tom and Joan Howard

The couple recently told Shoreline Community Apartments they planned to leave, but Tom said the complex said it would charge the two $1,400 because they did not give 60 day notice.

First Coast News called and emailed the regional property manager and Shoreline Community Apartments, but have not heard back as of 10 p.m. Monday.

The Howard's have since hired a lawyer and are looking for $4,500 dollars in reimbursements.

"I just want to get out of here without owing them any money now because I didn't do this this isn't my fault," Tom Howard said.  

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