HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- When Henrico resident Benefa Anning left her apartment for the night, she couldn't believe how different her home looked when she and her family returned the next day.
"It bloomed, it blossomed, it was just everywhere," Anning said. "My A.C. went out on Friday, July 29."
When she returned less than 24 hours later, she said mold was covering her entire apartment.
"We went to the synagogue, we hung out for a little bit, came back around 6:30 and there was mold everywhere."
The mother of two lives at Canterbury Square Apartments in Henrico and said she was shocked at how much mold she could see.
"When I first saw it, it was just like on the kitchen cabinets, it looked like white spots. In the actual crevices of the counter, it was green and gray," Anning said.
She said she immediately notified the rental office but because it was the weekend, she said she wasn't expecting an answer right away. While waiting for a response, Anning recorded this video, showing what she said is mold on things like dishes, clothes, furniture and work equipment.
"Currently my work equipment is growing, literally growing," Anning explained.
She said the next Monday, she went to the rental office and she learned it wasn't just her unit and that the issues she was having would be fixed soon.
"I took my kids out of there and we stayed at a combination of a hotel, with my parents, with a friend," Anning said.n
After 13 days, she said she called the rental office to ask if they would pay for the hotel, in which they agreed to up until the last few days Anning stayed. While staying at the hotel, Anning said she was told her apartment was ready for her to move back into.
"They wrote, we currently have work to do in the unit but you can return to your home," Anning said. "After the prior email of them saying there was no mold, I hired an industrial hygienist."
CBS6 spoke with Vance Environmental who said they expedited lab tests because of the conditions. Joe Vance with the company said normal conditions are less than 2,000 and the Penicillium mold levels in Anning's apartment were far beyond that.
"Inside my apartment, it was 16,053, upstairs in my children's room it was 18,293," Anning explained. "He said it's the humidity from the AC failing that caused the mold and that this resident is confirmed with abundant mold and fungi and is currently not acceptable for occupancy."
Based on a quote from ServPro, it would cost at least $52,000 to properly clean the items that can be saved, as some items have to be thrown away.
"You're affecting not only my life and my children's life but my clients," Anning said. "We can't do the little family things anymore."
Benefa then sent those results to the property management and said after days of back and forth she reached out to problem solvers hoping to get placed in a new apartment as soon as possible.
CBS6 then spoke with Canterbury staff and was told that there was a new apartment Anning could sign the lease for that day. Now in her new home, Anning said her family is still left without most of the items they owned or money to replace them.
"It is not her fault, her sole responsibility is to pay the rent as contracted for," said Martin Wegbreit with Central Virginia Legal Aid Society.
Wegbreit said receiving compensation for mold-related damages is typically the responsibility of the landlord.
"My advice for tenants is always put it in writing," Wegbreit explained.
"The law is clear, it is the responsibility of the landlord that there is no visible mold in the unit when it's rented and throughout the tenancy and you do that by spending a little money on the dehumidifier to prevent that thousands and thousands of dollars of cost in mold remediation."
Anning said as of this week, a new management company has taken over and has been very helpful with her new apartment. As for the compensation for her lost items as well as part of the hotel stay, CBS6 reached out to the Canterbury Square office and are still waiting to hear back.
You can help Anning replenish necessities for and her child through their GoFundMe.