Tenants say conditions are unlivable

By Anna Carrera

Published 10/18 2013 11:01AM

Updated 10/18 2013 05:29PM

URBANA -- Two people say they found mold behind wallpaper and underneath paint in the building they live in. They say it's making them and their families sick. The landlord of the Old Manor Hotel, on Cunningham Avenue, says this is the first he's hearing of a problem. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera has more.

Those families called city inspectors to take a look. One housing inspector counted 19 violations in one of the apartments, but the landlord says his tenants are part of the problem.

"Mold and mildew all over," said Charles Griffin. "It's ridiculous."

Griffin says he thought rust may have been under his kitchen sink and on his walls, but a trip to the doctor told him otherwise. 

"It scares a parent to know your kid can be that sick and is getting sicker and sicker," said Griffin. "It [the doctor's note] says the child shouldn't be around the mold because that is the reason why my baby has been getting sick and irritations."

His 1-year-old can't stay there. Now, Griffin doesn't want to either. After he told his neighbor, Rashunna Stephens, she wants to go too.

"I pay week-by-week so I can honor and respect that," said Stephens. "But you've got us living in a death trap."

Stephens found what she thinks is mold behind her wallpaper.

"That's years worth of mold," said Stephens. "Years. I may not be a scientist, but Google and Bing, they tell it all and it's deadly. That's crazy."

Both say the landlord -- Pravin Patel -- should fix the problems. He says he's tried.

"Yeah, but he won't let me go in," said Patel. 

Patel says Griffin broke light fixtures and showers on purpose.

"He damaged all the stuff," said Patel, "and then called the city and said, 'hey, this place is like this.'"

Patel also owns motel rooms on the other side of the building. He says they stay clean, unlike the apartments rented by his tenants.

"I didn't know about the mold," said Patel. "How did that happen?"

Both tenants say they plan to leave immediately, but they want future tenants to know about the problems.

Patel says he's working on fixing the problems the inspector documented.

In the report, there were 19 violations, including mold and mildew under the kitchen sink. It's also on the walls and ceiling of the bathroom. Holes in the drywall, missing window screens and broken faucets were also on the list.

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