Three Airforce families and two Army families filed a complaint in a Florida federal court accusing a set of private companies that own and manage their housing at Florida’s MacDill Air Force Base. The families are proposing a class action lawsuit blaming the businesses for mold in their homes and the resultant health problems.
The families are seeking to recover damages related to the serious health conditions of service members and their families.
In the 61-page lawsuit, the families say that the companies have not adequately built nor managed their homes. This, the families say, led to mold problems. The exposure to mold has led to a variety of health problems including:
- Respiratory problems
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- And others
The companies named in the suit are the Michaels Organization and two of units, Michaels Management Services Inc. and Interstate Realty Management Co. Additional defendants include Clark Realty Capital LLC and AMC East Communities LLC. All of these companies own or operate private housing for families stationed at the base through a contract under the Military Housing Privatization Initiative.
The complaint reads, “[t]hese men and women who serve our country and keep us safe, and their children, deserve to live in safe, clean and uncontaminated housing.”
Plaintiffs are seeking to represent a proposed class of any military member or their family. These families must live or have lived in housing run by the defendants at the base. There are 572 houses on the base that the defendants named in the lawsuit own or manage.
How were the companies negligent?
According to the lawsuit, in at least one instance, the moldy conditions were so severe and left untreated for so long that mushrooms grew out of the floor and carpet in one service member’s home.
Additionally, the suit describes families asking for repairs for the following conditions:
- Water puddling around central heating and air conditioning units
- Spongy and warped floors and walls
- Moldy floors and walls
- Rotting walls and floors
- Mold-induced illnesses
- Pest infestations
- Military and company officials have vowed to immediately fix problems and address conditions with permanents solutions.
Hearings on Privatized Military Housing
Service officials testified before the Senate on Dec. 3 about housing conditions. The Senate Armed Services Committee asked service officials about the ongoing poor living conditions in privatized family housing.
The latest hearing questioning military officials came 10 months after the first hearing when family members testified about the hazards that threatened their health and safety. In addition, family members expressed their frustrations in getting landlords to fix problems with no assistance from military officials on base.
Despite the Congressional hearings, nothing has changed in the interim. Families living on military bases across the country continue to describe questionable practices and a blatant disregard for the families living in these homes.
A report issued by the Government Accountable Office (GAO) found that defense officials have conflated the success of privatized military housing—including tenant satisfaction. The GAO report reveals significant flaws, including a reward program that rewards and pays incentive fees to privatized housing partners.
We are Veterans Helping Veterans
Private housing companies have a responsibility to ensure tenants are living in sanitary and safe conditions. When that doesn’t occur, it is important to understand that you have rights. If would like assistance determining those rights, contact the VLAP and let us know how we can help.
We’ve got your six.