Landlord takes Richmond Heights renter to court; she calls him a ‘total slumlord’

A Richmond Heights resident, formerly in the 7400 block of Warner Avenue, moved out because the landlord, Robert Tufts of Columbia, MO, never fixed problems like mushroom-like mold in the basement and water dripping through the ceiling eventually causing it to fall. He’s taking her to court for not paying the last month’s rent, plus damages.

The resident, who wanted her name withheld, recited a long list of grievances in a chance meeting at Richmond Heights City Hall on Thursday. She called him a “total slumlord.”

She stopped paying rent, telling Tufts she’ll pay rent when the house is up to code — “when things aren’t falling and breaking.” She put the money into a separate saving account, then she used it to move.

Among the issues:

  • Rodent problems, outside underneath the kitchen sink
  • The floors were never finished. “They looked like cardboard when I moved in because he ripped up the linoleum. I had to finish them. I still got splinters because they were corroding because everything was leaking.”
  • Mold growing in the basement, was “mushroom-looking.” The pipes “constantly” leaked in the basement — “could have probably taken a shower.”
  • There was mold in the house and my baby was sick and the ceiling leaked over her crib. I went to feed her in the middle of the night, I pick her up. She’s sopping wet. I turned the light on, it was dripping on her forehead. He told me, ‘move the crib.’
  • The radiator upstairs was leaking and he never fixed it. He just patched it and made the guy stop using his radiator. He gave us space heaters, which one of mine – the outlet caught on fire in her room.
  • Cut down trees and left them in the yard, making the fence bow
  • Never installed the air-conditioning units in the windows even though it was 85 in the house. “I had to have a co-working come and and help me bring them upstairs and put them in. One of them didn’t work so I had to go buy my own unit for her [baby’s] bedroom.”
  • There was no inspection when she moved in.
  • He showed up unannounced. She called the police twice when he did this.
  • “The last straw — my ceiling fell in the shower, and when the ceiling fell my whole house filled with the smell of mold so my daughter had to stay at my mom’s house for almost two weeks. I was looking for a place already. Once that ceiling fell I had to get her out of that house.

Her court date is later this month. Tufts seeking the last month’s rent plus $1,800 in damage. The resident plans to go with a list of violations given her from the city. She also has two incident reports from the police department from when the landlord tried to enter the house unauthorized.

8 thoughts on “Landlord takes Richmond Heights renter to court; she calls him a ‘total slumlord’

  1. I’m going to go with that the landlord is scummy. I’ve seen things like this happen far to oftent to dismiss her words out of turn. Years ago the landlord of the apartment complex behind my house refused to pay for trash pickup and the complex had several overflowing dumpsters and trash bags everywhere. Everyone on our block ended up with rat infestations because of it and the stench was so bad I couldn’t even use my backyard. I’m honestly no sure how the people in the complex continued to live there to be honest. Thankfully that landlord no longer runs the complex and the new one not only pays for trash pick-up keeps the lawn and landscaping maintained, they also had the complex completely renovated and they make necessary repairs when called on to judging from the repair service vehicles I’ve seen over the years since they took over.

  2. I am hoping that she has pictures with dates on them for her side of the story. Now that almost everyone has a cell phone there is really no reason to not take pictures of everything. Most people I know take pictures when they move in showing any dings or paint chips, missing floor tiles, broken windows etc so they don’t get hit up for it when they move out. She should have been taking pictures of the issues as they occurred.

    The other thing is the mention of no inspection before she moved in. Lots of places have an occupancy permit before tenants are changed so I wonder how that happened. And when the police showed up when the landlord was there unannounced she should have invited the police in and shown them around to see the conditions of the place. They would note it and maybe be set things in motion to get it fixed.

    I am not a landlord but have worked for both types over the years and prefer the ones who are good to their tenants.

    • All of those things were done! Everything is documented and has a photo. I’ve saved every text! I did invite police in. I wasn’t told I needed an occupancy as not all cities require them. You can judge all you want and say what should have been done but it was! I called the inspector to make someone come out! I took charge. I did what I could and then got out/moved as soon as I could!

      • I’m happy you took charge in this situation because according to the list in this article something needed to be done and it appears no one else was willing to step up. People shouldn’t be living in conditions like that no matter what type of housing situation it is. Its wrong and that landlord needs to be taken to court if that’s what it will take to get him (or her) to do the necessary mold remediation and repairs to his property. Its not only a hazard to the people living there but to those who may live around it as well. If he won’t take care of the property then they need to kick the landlord out and find someone who will.

  3. There are bad landlords, and there are also many bad tenants. One of my rental houses was totally destroyed, and the tenant lived on social security, so there was no way to go after her for all the damage. It cost me $35,000 to put the house back in livable condition.
    I had some great tenants, and a number of very bad ones, even after doing due diligence, and checking them out as much as possible. Rarely do you get paid for the damage they leave behind.

  4. Yes….this guy is definitely a slumlord and who knows how many other properties he owns are in the same terrible condition. If I were the tenant I would have called investigative reporter Chris Nagus at KMOV-TV and had him bring a crew out to film those conditions.

  5. Doesnt shock me any, and maplewood has landlords like this as well. I rented from one guy, the house was a safety hazard and nothing was ever done about it because the city inspector was his friend and drinking buddy from high school! Came home one day and he was sitting in my kitchen supposedly fixing the sink but that was after the fact that he made himself a sandwich and chips.

    Needless to say that once my lease was up, I left. I still have pictures of the house and the jacked up condition it was in when I moved in.

    • Maplewood Guy should have been reported? Do it now if not done before. We don’t need that in our city. Take pictures to City Hall, please. You will do us all a service. Thx.