Woman's 'cry for help' TikTok video exposed plumbing problems at Richmond apartment

Molly Bish: 'They are helping people now and I hope it keeps happening and that pressure stays on them'
Posted at 7:21 PM, Dec 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-29 13:12:46-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond woman turned to TikTok after she felt she couldn’t get a permanent solution to problems she was experiencing in her apartment.

Molly Bish posted the video on TikTok, which has now been viewed over 400,000 times, showing issues she claims continued at her home at Richmond's River Lofts at Tobacco Row. The video shows water backing up and overflowing into her sink and kitchen and the black debris that was left.

Molly Bish
Molly Bish

Bish described how the water would shoot up into her home through the cabinets.

She said the water would recede and later return to the kitchen and living room. She claims these problems had been happening since 2021, and began happening more frequently beginning in the spring of 2023.

Molly Bish
Molly Bish

“We started to call it the sludge prevention program because I put a security camera on it. It either comes up and goes back down or starts shooting and I’m running with pots in pans, and with things I use to cook in, to get it out,” Bish said.

Bish said she reported the issues many times over the last two years and showed CBS 6 records of phone calls made and emails sent to management.

She said the apartment complex would claim it would be fixed, but she says the problem continued to persist.

Bish said she felt this could not keep happening because she was paying to live there and maintenance is part of her lease.

She said one of the reasons she rents is because it is not her responsibility to fix problems like this. She said this was when she made the decision to turn to TikTok.

Molly Bish
Molly Bish

“I wanted someone from Brookfield Properties to see this and get people out here, and that is exactly what happened,” she said.

CBS 6 asked the property manager what caused the problems and why they hadn’t been fixed.

In a statement, the corporate office for the apartment complex said “we work to resolve them as quickly as possible, which we have done in this case. The experience of our tenants is our top priority.”

River Lofts at Tobacco Row
River Lofts at Tobacco Row

Martin Wegbreit, Central Virginia Legal Aid Society's director of litigation, said tenants have rights to safe, sanitary, habitable, and fit housing.

“Landlords have duties to provide that and when they don’t tenants have legal remedies available to them,” he said.

Tenants need to make sure rent is kept current, according to Wegbreit. Then he said they should give their landlord notice in writing of the problem and what they want done.

If nothing changes after a month he said a person should take the issue to General District Court for a judge to decide.

“You will find the exact court form they need to file called a tenant's assertion. They can fill it out and bring it to court," Wegbreit said. "Then they have to pay a filing fee and they have to pay their next month's rent in court. It’s not a complicated process."

Wegbreit said it is crucial to have everything documented. That can be from pictures of what has happened, to any type of contact or communication with apartment officials.

Molly Bish
Molly Bish

Bish said she decided to ultimately move out of the complex because of the situation. She hopes her viral video can educate others on what can happen when they use their voices.

“I made it as a cry for help and that’s exactly what happened," Bish said. "They are helping people now and I hope it keeps happening and that pressure stays on them."

CBS 6 was informed that as a result of the video, tenants at the apartment created a tenants union to help advocate for issues they are experiencing.

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