SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Oakridge Properties tenants challenge mold and leaky roof repairs underway at the townhome they rent at Deeswood Village.

Renters Kevin Aderholt and Madison Allen say they’ve been fighting for garage repairs for months. After six months in their lease, construction began in February without the proper permitting, causing further concerns for the couple.

“This is people’s homes. This is their livelihood,” said Allen. “They get home from work to go to a home where they feel safe in.”

KOLR 10 Investigates is looking into options for renters facing a mess they didn’t make, but are expected to live with.

The bright yellow sign citing their townhouse with a “dangerous building warning” isn’t quite what renters were expecting when they moved to Springfield from Texas in August 2022.

“We love the Ozarks, we love the Branson area and got jobs here and moved up,” said Aderholt.

They knew repairs were needed when they signed the lease last August. That’s why a hand-written addition to their rental agreement shows both the tenants and management agreed the mold and leak in the garage would be fixed by winter.

A written repair agreement in the lease is exactly what Missouri’s Tenant-Landlord Law suggests in a situation like this. But the timing of those repairs remains in question.

“They said ‘by winter’ and here we are,” said Aderholt.

Oakridge Properties Manager Tara Beavers told KOLR 10 Investigates that tenants living in the unit above Aderholt and Allen had to move out before they could work on the garage, which shares a roof with the balcony upstairs. Beavers said the repairs couldn’t have possibly been done before winter.

“By winter means it’s a winter project,” said Beavers. “But moreso, it’s when their lease was up and it wasn’t up until the end of December so there’s no way I could have done it any sooner.”

Oakridge Properties said the weather delayed the project further. A local attorney suggests adding specific dates to contracts to avoid any confusion over vague terms.

Our investigative team also asked about the roofer hired to fix the leak. Beavers said the roofer works on all their projects involving stairs and roofing.

“He is a specialty carpenter,” Beavers said. “I’m not really sure what his title is, to be honest.”

The leak got worse after construction started on Feb. 6. Rainwater began saturating the garage floor, filling trash cans as mold spores spread across the roof. That’s when the City of Springfield’s building development department stepped in.

“If you walked out in that area where they’re working, you could fall through the ceiling or something like that,” said Brock Rowe, who’s the director of building development services for the city. “There is a dangerous element that way. But it’s not a dangerous building in the aspect that it’s going to collapse on somebody.”

“I’ve got a lot of money out here that I don’t want ruined,” said Aderholt.

According to the Missouri Department of Health, addressing building code violations may actually be the fastest way for renters to get repairs made. City codes do not address mold or the health effects of mold. The state says renters should instead look for code violations that contribute to mold growth, like faulty plumbing, ventilation issues, and leaky roofs.

“I’ve got a lot of money out here that I don’t want ruined,” said Aderholt.

Rowe advises renters to turn in a complaint to the city’s citizen resource center. But that assistance also does not cover mold concerns.

“We don’t deal with mold,” said Rowe. “I’m not even sure the health department deals with mold so that’s one of those gray areas.”

KOLR 10 Investigates checked. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department does not inspect homes for mold either. The tenants in this case do have renter’s insurance. They’re ready to move on from the property completely but fear the legal consequences.

“We believe the lease is void but we don’t want to face an eviction and have that go on our credit report,” said Allen.

Missouri law specifies in most cases a tenant has no right to withhold rent. Missouri law provides only a very narrow exception to this rule for dangerous or unsanitary conditions that a landlord fails to fix.

“If this was living quarters it would be an issue and we wouldn’t have moved them in this way,” said Beavers. “But like I said they did agree when they moved here.”

City records indicate the property managers have until Feb. 22 to correct the violations. The city warns of legal measures if construction isn’t corrected by then.

Rowe said it is fairly common for building code violations to escalate to a court hearing.