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Mysterious soot on walls, ceiling leaves Michigan woman frustrated with apartment management

Posted at 2:08 PM, Jan 01, 2021

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. — "In the 25 years I've lived here, I have never been late on my rent. I've always paid my rent. I have never given them a problem," Sharon Williams said about why she can't understand how management at Cambridge House Apartments in Sterling Heights hasn't resolved a problem that, at first, appeared to be growing on the walls and ceiling of her unit.

"I thought it was mold," Williams told 7 Action News about when she first noticed the mysterious black marks developing on her ceiling and walls over a year ago.

According to Williams, management at the property became so dismissive of her concerns, that she consulted attorneys and county health officials.

Property management did send a mold and remediation specialist to inspect the black marks and he determined it was actually soot.

Williams said the mold specialist indicated that there were elevated mold spores in her carpeting, but he could not determine the source of the soot.

The specialist recommended that management have the insulation in the attic checked because "the soot issues could be related to inadequate or improper insulation," he wrote in a letter.

Williams said management has yet to identify the source of the mysterious soot.

She's never smoked and the building was a non-smoking building when she moved in 25 years ago. Smokers are now allowed to occupy units in the same building.

Williams said management has tried to blame the problem on everything from candles, which she says she doesn't burn because they're for decoration only, to her being unwilling to let them come in and do work, something she adamantly denies.

"I don't understand why they would treat someone like this and how dare they try to blame it on me," Williams told 7 Action News. "When I turn on my heat, my nose and eyes burn."

And with COVID and a tight budget, Williams said moving is easier said than done.

"I don't think this is fair," she said. "I've been fighting this battle for over a year."

Action News has been in contact with Aaron Rosenhaus who said he's an owner of the property and that he's committed to working with Ms. Williams to get contractors in so they can figure out what the problem is and remedy the situation.

This story was first published by Kimberly Craig at WXYZ in Detroit, Michigan.