VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Anyone who walks by Iisha Garcia’s home in the Shelton Circle community can see that she’s upset about mold.
Garcia has drawn messages on her home that read “Where’s my money,” “Mold” and “Fix my roof” to get the attention of her landlord, Lincoln Military Housing. Lincoln says Garcia alerted them to the mold, but has never mentioned anything to them about any roof problems.
Garcia says the mold began with leaking pipes and a water heater that “exploded” in February. Lincoln responded and sent a repair crew.
“I had to go to class that day and when I came back from class, the entire house smelled like mold,” Garcia said. “They said it was just because there was water on the floor that day.”
Lincoln put Garcia in temporary housing in Norwich Manor when they discovered the mold had spread.
“It had more mold than I had in my own home,” Garcia said, but Lincoln says Garcia never let them know about mold in the temporary housing.
Lincoln sent us this statement about Garcia’s case:
“Lincoln Military Housing is committed to providing exemplary service to all of our military family residents. We worked diligently to remedy all issues that have been reported by Mrs. Garcia and our Navy Partners have been involved at every step to ensure that the resolution achieved meets not only our high standards but the Navy’s as well. All work completed in the home meets industry standards, was inspected by our Navy Partners and was certified by a third-party vendor.
“Lincoln Military Housing considers all settlement-related communications confidential, however, in this case, no settlement discussions have taken place or have been contemplated. In a sign of goodwill and to acknowledge Mrs. Garcia’s dissatisfaction with her home, we did offer funds to assist her with relocation expenses should she decide to live elsewhere.
“At this time, Mrs. Garcia has not reported to us any outstanding maintenance issues in her home. To the extent that we or Mrs. Garcia identify any new or outstanding maintenance issues, we will work to ensure those are submitted and completed to the satisfaction of both our resident and Navy Partners.”
The work crew involved in removing the mold had unplugged the refrigerator while they were working, and her food spoiled. Lincoln provided Garcia with a $400 gift certificate for a local food store.
Lincoln says a third-party environmental firm — In Depth Environmental — certified after the work that the home was safe. A Navy spokesperson confirmed that in this statement:
The Navy takes tenant complaints seriously and works diligently to solve issues quickly and efficiently together with the property owner, in this case, Lincoln Military Housing (LMH). We work closely with our housing partners to ensure our service members have quality housing and customer service.
Communication regarding residential issues is key to resolving maintenance issues. Each Hampton Roads installation has a Navy family counselor located in the Housing Service Center that also maintains relationships with families and can assist them in mediating with LMH on any unresolved landlord/tenant issue.
In this case, the resident notified maintenance in February about water damage from a leaky water heater. LMH maintenance responded immediately. Because of the water leak, mold was discovered. The resident temporarily relocated to a LMH guest suite while mold remediation work was completed. Initial remediation was successful, however, LMH hired an additional licensed independent third party to also inspect the house for mold and confirm the original mold remediation was successful. Multiple reports from the environmental company validated the original report. Leadership from the command and LMH followed up with the resident, walked through the unit and confirmed the validity of the report with the resident.
We take all reports of resident concerns seriously and work with families and the partner to address them to the satisfaction of the resident and the Navy. Navy command leadership was directly involved with this family to ensure all required remediation was completed.
Lincoln sent a letter giving Garcia a deadline of last Thursday April 30 to remove the chalk messages – or they would charge her for the cleanup and enter her home to inspect for damage.
“I strongly believe that the actions that Lincoln has taken are 100% retaliatory.” Garcia said.
Garcia plans to sue Lincoln for $7.5 million, claiming retaliation, negligence and failure to maintain a safe place to live. She will represent herself in court.