From the Montclair Times:
Raniya Kassem owns a condominium on the fifth floor of Montclair’s luxury high-rise complex The Siena, but it’s been about a year and five months since she has resided there.
Kassem said she moved out of the South Park Street building on May 12, 2009, on the advice of an expert who tested the air in her condo and discovered mold spores. The mold had grown in the cavity of her bedroom wall as a result of persistent water leaks in her brand-new dwelling unit, Kassem said.
The leaks were discovered long before she packed her bags and left. Two days after she bought the 962-square-foot condo for $441,000 on July 22, 2008, Kassem discovered “a huge bubble in my ceiling in the bathroom” and her condo’s windowsills were wet. Later she would also find water had saturated one bedroom wall.
Eventually, Kassem, 37, started feeling ill, experiencing respiratory symptoms and developing rashes. She began to use an inhaler. Then one day she called in an environmental testing service to evaluate the air quality in her room and she learned about the mold. The consultant advised her to sleep elsewhere until the problem was remediated.
“I left that night to live with my parents” in Roseland, she said. After three weeks passed and Kassem retained an attorney, she moved back into The Siena, with the developers agreeing to put her up in another condo on the fifth floor.
But when that unit sold, they moved Kassem again — this time to a unit on the seventh floor.
“I bought a home and I don’t have a home,” she said. “I have a closet full of stuff I never unpacked.
“I am a first-time homebuyer and man, this has not been a pleasant experience at all. You think about the American dream of owning your own home. After buying at The Siena, I don’t believe in that anymore. It has been nothing but heartache for me.”
Her neighbors on the building’s fifth floor, Vin Forbes and Carlton Schultz, have a similar story.
Forbes said he and his partner moved into their unit, for which they paid $616,900, at the end of January 2008. Weeks later, on Feb. 14, he notified the building’s management of water leaks inside his new two-bedroom condominium. Work crews arrived.