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Fremont tenants say landlord's poor maintenance has caused roach infestations and issues with black mold

Posted at 8:27 PM, Jun 11, 2024

FREMONT, Neb (KMTV) — When Michelle Fitzpatrick first moved into her apartment owned by Simonson Rentals she said things were mostly OK.

But after living there for some time things started to change.

“When you first move in and become a tenant he is pretty good about making sure your stuff is fixed. But after you live with him for a long period of time it doesn’t matter,” said Fitzpatrick.

The problems for Fitzpatrick quickly started to add up.

First it was water flooding into her apartment, then it was issues with roaches and now across her building and others owned by Simonson Rentals, black mold.

“I am constantly getting sinus infections, allergy problems. Im always coming down with something” said Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick isn’t the only tenant facing issues. We spoke with 4 current and former tenants at Simonson Rentals and they all told the same story.

Apartments are left to fall apart while management does nothing to fix it.

“I kept asking Mark, hey can you come fix this? Can you take care of the mold, get rid of the roaches? He keeps saying oh ill get to it ill get to it but he never does,” said a former tenant who asked to be identified as Greg.

When we stopped by the Simonson Rental just off 23rd and Broad we spoke with a maintenance worker on site who said Simonson goes above and beyond to provide clean paint, new floors and replaced A/C units when new tenants move in and said it was unclean tenants ruining the apartments.

But a former Simonson maintenance worker and current tenant, who asked to be identified as Dwayne, says that isn’t the case.

“Many of us have said, hey we need to fix it the right way. He would say lets just fix it this way, its cheaper this way,” said Dwayne.

Dwayne said he saw all of the common issues with mold bugs but he says there are even more serious issues facing tenants.

“Its not just health issues but electrical issues. Safety for kids and families. You have circuit breakers that are popping. Roaches flying out of the outlets. Wires are degraded,” said Dwayne.

We reached out to Mark Simonson for comment on this story but we have not yet received a response.

Tenants don’t have many tools to force landlords to provide needed maintenance but the city of Fremont does have some avenues for tenants facing issues.

We spoke with the Fremont Code Enforcement’s department chief inspector Mark Byrd who told us a process is in place to get Code Enforcement on site to inspect properties.

But before they can show up tenants need to report the issues, and that includes the tenants name, what address and unit they live in and what the specific issues are.

There are also resources available in the Landlord Tenant Handbook offers by legal aid of Nebraska.

A copy of that handbook can be found at https://www.legalaidofnebraska.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/2021-LLT-Handbook-1.pdf

The tenants we spoke to said they aren’t confident that any of the issues will be fixed but they did want to warn other prospective renters so they can avoid facing the same issues.

“I would tell them straight up do not rent from him. He is a slumlord, he has roaches you name it. It’s not a healthy environment,” said Greg.