Fitch Lane Homeowner Cited for Public Health Violations, Sued by Tenants

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A Fitch Lane homeowner has 30 days to abate and remove mold from their house, as per a town-issued citation of public health law violations.

The owner of a 1982-built contemporary-style home at 53 Fitch Lane also must repair and vent a ceiling fan, repair window flashing, replace damaged sheetrock and control a humidity problem inside the house following inspections by a town sanitarian, following an Oct. 25 Notice of Violation issued by the New Canaan Department of Health.

Immediately following an Oct. 11 complaint of mold and musty odor lodged by tenants of the home, health officials over two days found visible mold growth on the ceiling of a master bedroom and bathroom, as well as on wood blinds, and water damage on inter window frame and sills, court documents show. 

“Additional water damage was found on the plywood in the attic space under the gable louver vent,” the citation letter said.

The 4,950-square-foot home is owned by Dana Li and Chihong Chou, tax records show. Court documents list Li as having an Atlanta address.

Tenants who have paid $4,600 in rent per month under a two-year lease that started Aug. 1 also are suing the landlords, saying they want to be reimbursed a total of about $1,900 for the dry cleaning of moldy clothes and to replace “three ruined strollers,” according to an amended complaint filed Friday in state Superior Court.

When the tenants moved in this summer, “the house was not in the condition that it was promised,” the complaint said.

“Plumbing issues, water (was not clean), and mold in insulation, walls and sheet rock, leaking windows that are currently rotting,” it said. “All our closets are now moldy (all our shoes and clothes and hats). We would like Dana Li to pay for some of our damage, since she was notified of the issues in early September/late August. If the conditions of the house are not fixed in a timely manner, we would like to break a 2-year lease and pay for all our moving expenses. We are currently experiencing mold symptoms and will be adding medical bills.”

The plaintiffs are representing themselves and Li is listed as a non-appearing defendant.

A New Canaan Health Department sanitarian detailed the town’s findings through two inspections on Oct. 11 and 12, and returned to the house within two weeks. In an Oct. 25 email to Li, the sanitarian noted that he had taken photos in the attic on the prior day that “clearly show water damage to the plywood and the insulation above the master bedroom.”

“Any damaged and moldy materials will need to be replaced,” the sanitarian wrote to Li in an email that forms part of the legal filing. “This applies to any area of the home that is identified as having water damage and mold. Please have a contractor/company that is trained in identifying mold and water damaged materials assess the situation and remediate the mold and damaged materials as soon as possible. There are also some additional windows that have evidence of water leaks. I suggest that you have someone check all of the windows to be sure that they are properly sealed. Any moldy or damaged materials will need to be replaced.”

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