I am responding to your comprehensive article “Breaking the Mold” [Oct. 16 Xpress]. The descriptions of the problems that the tenants endured, including hidden and visible mold, odors, damage, etc. are health issues. The article stated that the city will, in some cases, have a building inspector investigate the complaints. If the problems are substantiated, the landlord is notified with a copy of the report. If the landlord does nothing, it seems that the city has no recourse to demand compliance.
At the very least, tenants should be able to move with no penalty for breaking their leases. Once the apartment is vacated, a certificate of occupancy should be required and the specified deficiencies addressed, prior to the apartment’s eligibility for future rentals. It shouldn't take an act of Congress (well, that really wouldn't help anyway, would it?). It shouldn't be difficult for something to be done, so at least tenants could relocate with no monetary penalty for moving out! Affordable and acceptable housing is definitely a priority for Asheville.
— Jeri Hahner
— 254-8691, firstname.lastname@example.org