Building inspector looks into apartment roof collapse

January 5, 2011 6:49:29 PM PST
Tenants of one East Bay apartment complex say their health is in danger and their landlord isn't doing enough to protect them. They're worried about black mold. A building inspector paid a visit to the Portofino Apartments in Pittsburg on Wednesday.

The building inspector did come by the apartments and he ordered the management company, Riverstone Residential Group, to fix a glaring hole in the ceiling, but tenants say there's not enough being done about the larger issue of toxic black mold.

"It's poisonous black mold and you need to have eye protection, mouth protection, hand protection and stuff on your body to walk in our house," says tenant Joseph Lombardo.

Lombardo issued that warning, before letting a city building inspector in to see the collapsed ceiling in his Pittsburg apartment.

"I have this black mold all outside," says Lombardo.

The ceiling of suddenly disintegrated last week. Until then, Lombardo, his wife and young son kept getting sick, with coughs and runny noses.

Amid the debris, Lombardo spotted what he thought was mold. The landlord at the Portofino Apartments told him it was just wet dirt and advised him to hire his own mold specialist. That specialist found high levels of toxic black mold and deemed the apartment unsafe to occupy.

"We're at a hotel right now. My son, this has just devastated my son right now, devastated him. He has nightmares. He just wants to go home. All his new toys from Christmas are here," says Lombardo.

The city building inspector told ABC7 it was a water leak and told us what the owner needs to do about it.

"I'm going to call them and ask them about the leak and if they don't do anything about it, I'll send them a notice and give them about 10 days to get permits and get it fixed," says Pittsburg building inspector K.C. Kampton.

The city inspector says it's not his job to identify mold or order it cleaned up.

"I can't breathe," says Elizabeth Sofge who lives adjacent to the Lombardos.

Sofge says she's also been sick lately and wonders why the landlord shouldn't have to inspect her ceiling and roof too.

"If I'm that close to him then yeah, it should be fixed because I am an asthmatic," says Sofge.

The manager at the Portofino Apartments would not comment on tenants' requests for cleanup of the mold problem. Her supervisors at Riverstone Residential Group did not return numerous calls from ABC7 News.

The Lombardos' problem is just the latest involving black mold here. Several other lawsuits are pending over the issue, involving as many 30 tenants.

This story was first reported by a viewer through uReport.

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