Unsanitary conditions for residents in Detroit apartment dispute

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Unsanitary and moldy conditions are being reported inside a Detroit apartment building.

The owner says he knows the apartment is no "Taj Mahal" but the people complaining about it are a month behind on rent. Those tenants say that is no excuse for the conditions here.

The complaints include a moldy bathroom, a leaking ceiling and an apparent rodent problem.

FOX 2: "I saw, a picture of a dead rat or a dead mouse?"

"Yes, that was inside my sink," said resident Marlesha Downs. You will find it all at this apartment building on Detroit's west side, according to her. 

"I keep seeing them back to back and they're not doing anything about it," she said.

Downs has lived at 13230 Lasalle Street with her boyfriend since September and claims she and her boyfriend's son have been hospitalized because of the conditions there, and that the hot water has been out for weeks.

"We got into it with a guy downstairs that's hired through the landlord about the water," she said. "He said he's not turning the water back on until people start paying rent."

Downs admits they are behind on rent payments.

"We've actually been paying him until a certain extent because it's too much," she said. "And then I've been hospitalized three times. It would be cool if you could step up and take care of your property, but if you can't what's the point of continuing to collect rent trying to evict somebody?"

It is the landlord-tenant version of the chicken and the egg. What comes first? Keeping up the property or making sure you have the money to do it? It is an old, common problem in Detroit that's led to countless landlord-tenant squabbles. For now, the city is cracking down on the landlord here.

"We have history with this property owner, we have issued him violations before and because he has not responded to those violations, he has a court date coming up in the next couple of weeks," said Jessica Parker with Detroit Building and Safety.

The owner says he's working to address the issues here from the mold to replacing a commercial water heater.

In the meantime, the city says the health department will be getting involved to look into the some of the conditions here.