Interesting thread, as I am dealing with this exact issue myself, and came here searching for other's experience. In my case, the landlord/management did a half-@$$ed job after my original complaint. And 2 months later, I am even more sick. Health Department can only check if there's visible mold, mine is interior mold between walls, and possibly between ceiling and upstairs unit floor. The cause is faulty polybutylene plumbing that has been failing. I have had 3 major and numerous minor leaks affecting my unit.
Health department referred me to two agencies that do mold testing and remediation. The one wanted $399 for the work, plus $75 lab fee. The other could do indoor/outdoor air sampling for $75 each, and surface sampling for $100, a total of $250. If the testing comes back positive, health dept can cite management, they can also cite them for the plumbing failures, however, they have to be able to see the actual plumbing, veryfying it is polybutylene pipe.
I am in FmHa subsidized housing (FmHa/Rural Developement USDA), and reported the initial issue to Rural Developement. So, pictures were taken, and a paper trail has already been established. I am trying to come up with the money for the testing, I will be able to recover this from the landlord (by lawsuit most likely) in the future. Both health dept and testing agency agree that the "self-treatment" done initially was woefully inadequate, and probably removed little of the mold. They said the drywall and insualtion should have been replaced.
Anywhoo, I was advised to send a letter to landlord (which I will CC to Rural Dev., as I always CC to them anything concerning landlord) informing them of my latest doctor's exam, and concerns that there is still a mold issue, health dept has been notified, and on site testing will be done in my unit. And asking them what, if anything, they plan to do regarding the ongoing water leaks, etc that have contributed to the mold.
I was advised that possibly the only way to get satisfaction, is to hire a lawyer and commence litigation. I plan on sueing for damages to my health, so be sure to talk to your medical treaters regarding your records. My doctor has agreed to assist in an investigation, once a signed release is sent from my lawyer.
The first leak was from the unit upstairs, water from cracked pipe had gradually weighted down on my kitchen ceiling below, cause it to bulge, and finally cave in when the maintenance man poked at it. Ceiling was aired out for 5 days, with dehumidifier in my kitchen. Contracter replaced drywall in ceiling. Housekeeper I hire did final cleanup. Almost a year later, carpet in 1/4 of my bedroom became saturated, as well as padding underneath. Unit sits on concrete slab. I was asked to get my hired-help to come in a move furniture and pack belongings in boxes. Maintenance used wet-vac, and dehumidifier was in there for a month. I was promised I would be reimbursed for for the housekeeper and the electricity to run the dehumidifier, from both incidents. Landlord dragged feet, and I didn't get my $80 from both incidents until 6 months after the 2nd, when I sent a letter threatening to sue.
Third major incident was early June, a week after having major surgery. Entire hallway was flooded outside my unit, pipe in unit above mine had completely severed. Water ran across ceiling/upstairs floor, them poured down wall. Despite my request to do so, wall was never ventilated afterwords, and I began exhibiting allergy sympotms and having daily asthma attacks and sinus problems. I did a simple test myself, and took positive for mold results to manager after my doctor expressed concern about how my lungs sounded. They opened lower part of wall, about 2 feet from right above baseboard. Mold was clearly visible. I took a lot of pictures. They sprayed bleach, ran the dehumidifier for 5 days, and closed up the wall with the same drywall that was removed. The opening of the wall exacerbated my asthma/allergies, and I sought emergency treatment at my doctor's office, since she had evening hours that day.
Humidity in my unit stays an almost constant 60%, it never goes below 50%, and has gone up to 70%. Manager gave me dehumidifier crystals for kitchen, bathroom and hallway closet because I complained about constant higher than normal humidity levels. These areas were the ones exposed to the most moisture from the latest big leak. That same wall ceiling/upper floor area has been affected several smaller leaks as well. FAIK, there could be another small leaks or leaks, as they just patch leaks and leave the brittle plumbing in place. Health dept and testing agency said drywall and insulation should have been removed and replaced. I happen to have a dust mite allergy as well, and the increased humidity has caused the polpulation to multiply. Recent doctors visit show that I have barely passing oxygen levels, and my lungs sound like "wind wailing through the rafters".
The only way I will probably suceed in getting anything done, is through litigation. My history with this managemwent company is that they drag their feet, or as the Rural Development manager said, "They are reacttuive rather than proactive". Rural Development has power, but the most drastic measure would be sanctions that would cause the residents to lose their subsidies, so there is an unwillingness to resort to the most drastic measures. But they are 100% behind me using legal means, and will cooperate with my attorney.
I hope you can get your situation resolved OP, it's no fun being constantly sick from environmental toxins because your landlord fails to do the necessary repairs. Health Dept should at least recommend several agencies that do the testing and remediation, or try searching online and call for upfront costs. Pay for the pros to come out to do the testing, do the letter thing suggested and enclose the test results and something from your doctor(s). I'm going to do just that, after I get the testing done, in hopes it will get repaired, but I still plan on sueing for their failure to address this properly in the first place. If you have proof of previous complaints to landlord, you could do the same. Search of court records revealed that landlord has been previously sued, and currently has 3 tort and 1 personal injury case currently being litigated. Rural Dev. Commented that they have a history of problems.
Like you, I can't afford to move, I want a Housing Choice voucher from Sec 8, but they are practically non-existent. If I can prove that that my unit is a hazard, I might be able to enlist the help of my congressman in getting an emergency voucher. Health Dept should at least recommend several agencies that do the testing and remediation, or try searching online and call for upfront costs. PS I was also advised you should not be in unit when remediation is done, landlord is responsible for putting you up in a motel/hotel. Aslo. This falls under the "Quiet Enjoyment" clause in your lease (How can you quietly enjoy your home when it's making you sick?) Good luck to you in getting this resolved in a timely manner.