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Is there anything a tenant can do to get mold trouble fixed?

Mold is really everywhere. But it doesn't tend to become a problem unless it has water to breed in and spread. If the conditions are right, however, mold can be a big issue, and not just because it looks horrible and smells bad.

It doesn't take much looking around on the Internet to learn that mold can be the source of a lot of health issues. And if the unsafe conditions that spawn mold outbreaks are present in apartment or business facilities, the owners and managers of the buildings deserve to be held accountable for any illnesses or other losses that might result.

Mold at the very least stinks and can make anything it infiltrates stink, too. If it gets into your bed, furniture or clothes, you might find yourself forced to chuck it all into the garbage. And even if you do all that you may still find yourself struck down by a variety of maladies.

Molds can trigger allergic reactions such as sneezing, coughing and wheezing. Skin irritation and rashes are not uncommon. If asthma develops, it can mean trips to the hospital. Children can miss important time in school. Adults can be left unable to work. If serious infections develop, it could result in death.

These are concerns on the minds of residents in a subsidized housing complex in New Haven. Northland Investment Corp., which owns the Church Street South complex and properties in Hartford, Enfield and Manchester, is under notice that it must get long-term problems fixed or face some serious regulatory action from local and federal housing officials.

The notice followed the filing of recent lawsuits by some residents. An attorney representing the residents says the issue is that water is entering the units through roofs, windows and plumbing. And while the management company insists it has invested $5 million to upgrade the property since 2008, the lawsuits claim residents have yet to see any positive results.

There are laws on the books. Sometimes, as this case seems to indicate, individuals taking legal action can help see that laws are upheld.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has paid Northland $3 million in annual rent subsidies, says it will inspect each of the apartments starting later this month.

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