JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One First Coast Family said they are living a nightmare. They claim to have black mold in their apartment, and said their landlord won't help.
"We can't afford to move. That's why we're sticking it out and being as tough as we can be. Because we can't afford to move," said Justin Frier.
The Friers moved into the Villas at Cedar Creek on April 14, and Frier said by June there were already major problems.
"The black mold, the hole here, the hole in the window, nothing has been even touched," he said.
Frier said he's talked to the manager of the apartment complex about the holes in the wall and the ceiling, the missing window in their living room, and even called the city about the black mold.
While he said he can deal with the rest, he's concerned about the health risks of the black mold for his children.
"With that black mold on his vent there...I believe it's on all the vents, but it's very visible on his and I would just rather take that precaution and not have him in there as much," he said.
His son and daughter now sleep in his room, but he says the mold is in his closet as well.
"It's a constant. Keep an eye on the children. I have to block them in my room from that closet right there because I'm scared some may fall down on them," he said.
The property manager tells a different story.
While she did not want to appear on camera, she said the Friers have not filled out any work orders to get the issues taken care of, and that the family agreed to move into the apartment "as is" because they couldn't afford to pay rent each month.
The family counters that they won't pay until the issues in the apartment are fixed.
A number of charities have stepped up to help the Friers pay the bills, but they're worried they soon might lose that assistance if the apartment complex doesn't pitch in.
"There's going to come a point where they say, look, we can't help you no more if they don't start fixing things," he said.
So legally, who is right?
According to The Division of Consumer Services, a tenant can withhold rent if the landlord does not meet basic safety obligations, but the tenant must alert the landlord in writing at least seven days prior to when rent is due.
The Friers claim they filled out a work order the day after they moved in, asking the complex to fix the hole and the broken window.
Once the family started to notice what they believe is black mold in June, Frier said he verbally alerted the complex to the issue. He said after a few days of inaction by the complex before asking the city to come and inspect his home.