Two apartments in a local complex have been declared “unfit for human habitation” because of mold and the complex owners deny there is an issue.

The Boone County Health Department is investigating complaints at the Canterbury House Apartments on Dogwood Drive in Lebanon. Brett Peppin, director of the environmental health division, said two signs were placed Thursday afternoon prohibiting residents from living there.

“After a sign is posted on the door and our paperwork is completed, an abatement order is issued to rectify the unlawful conditions,” Peppin said. “Once the owner informs us repairs have been made, a reinspection of the unit will occur to verify that satisfactory repairs have been made and that the apartment is suitable for occupancy.”

Complex owner Herman and Kittle Properties Inc. of Indianapolis denied there is any problem. Spokeswoman Laurren Brown told The Lebanon Reporter in an email that “there is no mold issue at the property.”

When presented with evidence to the contrary of that statement, the company responded with the following statement:

“As soon as we were made aware of the issue by the lease holder, we contacted a third party contractor to come in and look at the issue. Work is scheduled to be completed on Monday. In the meantime, we have found temporary housing for the lease holder. This issue was brought to our attention last Friday and repairs are scheduled for Monday.”

Peppin said this has been a problem long enough to get testing done on the mold.

“The Indiana Department of Health has performed mold sampling at Canterbury apartments at the request of the Boone County Health Department over the last few years and those results have aided us in the issuance of abatement orders and targeted education,” Peppin said in an email to The Lebanon Reporter. “It is our goal to address every complaint in a timely manner and ensure every resident of Boone County has a healthy and safe living space.”

He added the department cannot require owners to remove the mold. Rather, the abatement orders require the cause of the mold to be fixed in a timely manner.

“We do and have condemned properties that do not comply with abatement orders which in turn prevents the units from being rented out to others before the issues are corrected,” he wrote. “Most of the housing abatement orders we issue are corrected in a timely manner.”

If the repairs are not completed, Peppin said the next step in the process is a hearing before the health department hearing officer. Both the owners and the residents would be able to voice their opinions.

“If continued non-compliance occurs, we would then send the case to Superior Court for a judgement on the matter,” Peppin said. “We do have the ability under article 13 of our housing ordinance to issue fines of up to $1,000 upon being found guilty.”

Although she is not on the unit lease, Heather Frabutt is living in one of the apartments that have been condemned. She said she told the complex manager about the issue in February and has not paid rent since then.

“I’m having to throw everything away because of the mold,” Frabutt said. “The leak is still not fixed. I had to go buy a (vacuum) just to suck up the water in the carpet.”

Frabutt said the garbage disposal, air conditioner and a pipe in the bathroom were all leaking. She sent photos from a neighbor who lives a floor below her.

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