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Monica in Houston Texas

My husband and I signed a 5 year lease beginning on Nov 1st 2011 on a home in Houston Texas. We have 5 children. The home we leased was one of 4 homes that the landlord purchased as investment properties. The landlord purchased the home we were living in a few months before . We were the first renters in this home.
When we moved in, we were told that of the 4 homes purchased this home was the last to rent and they had not had the time to do all the improvements they wanted. We were fine with the home without the master bedroom bathroom update. They were happy as well.
Immediately after moving in I kept feeling as if the house was damp. I had only lived in Texas for 5 months and was told by the landlord that the climate here makes everything feel damp.
I continued to question the dampness feeling like the sheets of our bed felt wet. Once again I was dismissed . Not long after we had been living in the home I developed a rash around my eyes. I went to the dr and was given a steroid cream. I threw out all my make-up , nothing seemed to clear it up. Until….. I went on vacation and my eyes cleared for the first time in months. Upon returning my symptoms returned.
During this time both my husband , myself and our oldest son who’s room was above ours developed chronic sinus infections. Prior to moving in my husband had extensive sinus surgery that just didn’t seem to alleviate any of his symptoms. About 6 months into our first year the Ac which was in the attic flooded and damaged a large portion of the game room ceiling upstairs and hallway. The landlord fixed both issues. Our family continued to suffer with sinus issues, and myself and youngest daughter developed lesions on our arms and legs. We sought medical advice again over and over still no relief. We asked the landlord if the ductwork had been cleaned prior to us moving in? They said no, but we could do it if we wanted.

My symptoms continued to worsen. My joints began to ache especially in my legs. My feet hurt, I had a headache every day. My allergist had me tested twice I along with everyone else as suspected we were all highly allergic to mold. Every type of mold. From the beginning I noticed that the floors that had been redone started to peel. The finish seemed to almost wear off. The Windows on the east side of the house had what I thought was dirt of some sort . I would clean them and it would re-appear. Then the Ac flooded again. This time only the Ac was fixed and the damaged Sheetrock that was bowed from the water was never removed even after calling several months. I was told later that their son had been suffering from migraines and a lot of things fell through the cracks.
In the 4th year my husband learned that he might be transferred he informed the owner that a move was a great possibility . We were told that we would have to pay the entire remainder of the rent or we could put 65k into an escrow acct to make sure they were covered. We both laughed thinking this person must be crazy. We were told that we had foiled their plans . That they were planning on selling the house once our lease was up. We said sorry. We said we need to start the process of getting another renter, they decided to put the house on the market to sell, not lease. This bothered me, but I accommodated them as much as I could. I staged the home, had to leave the house for showings etc for almost 2 months.
This is when the source of our issues was final after 4 years revealed.
The am of the first open house I noticed some water in the master bedroom carpet. I first believed that someone had spilled a glass of water but the area became larger as the morning went on. We called the owners immediately and the realtor . We opted to leave town for the week-end rather than shuffling kids in and out and received a text from the owners son stating that he had found the source of the problem and that from the looks of things it had been going on for sometime and was most likely the cause of our allergy issues. He found out that the water heater which was in the attic had an overflow pipe for condensation etc and the pipe that went down our sons wall and down to our wall simply stopped in the middle of our wall with no outlet for it to go outside. No mold remediation company was called. They pulled the carpet , installed a fitting and removed the pad. I know enough about mold that I said you cannot just put carpet over the molded area it will come back. I was ignored . Over the next few days everyone in the house became ill. I was wearing a mask and was sleeping in our daughters room on the west side of the house which helped but not much. Since our allergies were so bad I was meticulous about changing the filters . They were always full after 3 weeks however this time after going to change them I was alarmed . Every air vent filter was black. Charcoal black .
I called the owner hysterical . He said it was just dust and that I hadn’t changed the filters in months obviously . I said he was wrong that the filters were purchased by the Ac company that did the repairs because they were old and the sizes were not ones you could buy at your local hardware store. I was discounted once again.
I went to my allergist with the filters , showed him pictures of the Windows and he gasped . He said you have to move out of that house immediately .
We notified the owners who were not happy . I said neither am I . You need to sue the inspector but was dismissed again. I called a mover that night and moved out the next day.
They continued showing the house and leased it 10 days later for 11.5k . We were paying 6.5k. We were not given our deposit back. My drapery was left because it was infected . My rugs were ruined . We have never been reemburssed for any of the damages and then were sent a bill for 42k for what they said we damaged . Included in the list was the repair to the pipe in the master bedroom.
One might this this is a joke. It’s not. One might think this is a slam dunk case….. It’s not. The laws in Texas have made it so I haven’t even been able to get an attorney to listen to my story or call me back. It took over three months of being in that home to start feeling normal again: I also know that when they decided to sell and not lease they did not disclose this issue or the flood damage from the Ac units in the attic.
I understand that mold issues have flooded the courts but this is not something that we ever knew about, neither did they. The new family has no idea what they walked in to, and I have been told that if I were to alert them I could be held responsible.
This issue festered in our home for four years. Who knows how long it really had been going on. From the extensive mold and moisture in the house that warped the front door it’s evident that thaw slow drip of water that dripped 24 hours a day 365 days a year for at least 4 years saturated the concrete slab the house sits on. It is deplorable that I have not been able to find anyone who can help.

Questions:

How do I get restitution to something that we did not cause ? Is there anyone who can help me..

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