12 On Your Side: Help for sewage problem in house

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Sewage cleanup from a back up or clogged sewer line is a nasty job, but somebody has to do it. When the landlord didn't, the tenant called 12 On Your Side for help.

We left the clean up to the professionals but got the property manager on the job. The pictures are disgusting and beyond unpleasant, but one family lived in those conditions for a while - until 12 On Your Side got involved.

If they shower, flush the toilet or use the sink upstairs, Ashley McCann says, sewage bubbles out downstairs.

"The middle room is water mixed with solid waste," said McCann. "It's kind of like a soup and it's an inch deep. There's black mold going up the walls."

So if she's tired of blocking off a part of her home, afraid her son may get sick, and has had enough of cleaning up the mess, why not move?

"I honestly can't afford to move," said McCann. "It was $2,200 that I spent to move in here."

The Virginia Legal Aid Society says landlords must follow housing and building codes affecting health and safety. Code violations should be reported to the building inspector's office, because emergencies must be immediately repaired.

"I don't usually get other people involved, but because I've sent so many emails, called so many times, left so many messages... I'm at the end of my rope," said McCann.

McCann says she called the city and the health department but didn't get through. Then she called 12. She was fearful the rental house might be condemned.

I called property manager Mike Duncan with City Leasing and Sales. He said a worker sent over to fix the a/c said dogs were defecating on the floors. He didn't know it was something more.

The tenants say he knew, and the problem kept getting worse.

"The neighbors can smell it. It's actually leaking underneath the house to the street now."

That same day, a crew showed up, worked four days, inside and out, cleaning, fixing drywall, painting and installing new pipes.

We waited a couple weeks, a test period, to make sure everything works. The tenants are definitely glad we did.

"We'd still be stuck to be honest," said tenant Paul Fallon. "We definitely would still be stuck."

Another remedy - set up an account and pay your rent to the court, until repairs are made. Meantime, the property manager says squatters lived in the house and trashed the plumbing system.

I talked to Ashley McCann Wednesday night. She's happy everything works now.

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