Resale Shop Closed Due to Mold, Landlord, Tenant Dispute Lease
In the South Lyon Herald on September 27, 2007
By Jessie Ellis
Megg Brigmon, owner of Little Monkeys Boutique, a children's clothing consignment store in downtown South Lyon, found herself forced to conduct business on the sidewalk in front of the store last Thursday.
Brigmon closed her business due to a flooding problem, which led to the growth of mold on the floor and in the walls. Doctors have instructed Brigmon to not return to premises. She is five months pregnant and has diabetes, as well.
"I had no idea there was mold there," Brigmon said. "I could smell something, but I've never smelled that before, so I just didn't know."
She had to shut down the store and contact all of her consignees.
According to Brigmon, before signing the lease, the owner of the building, Mike Muller, of Birmingham did not inform her that there was a problem with flooding after heavy rains. Brigmon opened Little Monkeys Boutique in April. When the building flooded for the first time, Brigmon contacted Muller about the problem.
Muller did not respond to requests for comment.
The store stood empty for a year before Little Monkeys began doing business. The previous tenant, South Lyon Electronics managed by Dale Wiltse, said that flooding concerns were not a surprise.
"When I saw there was a new tenant in there, I went in and warned her," Wiltse said. "We didn't have feet of water, but about half an inch to an inch."
The first time it flooded for South Lyon Electronics, Wiltse said he lost about $5,000 in merchandise which was covered by insurance. However, the second time it flooded, Wiltse's insurance changed and there was a new, "no flood coverage" clause in the policy. He lost about $2,500 in merchandise for which he was not reimbursed, he said.
Part of the problem is that the building floor sits well below the level of the parking lot. In the back of the building is a private drain with a catch basin and a four-inch pipe leading out onto the street. When a big rain hits, water pours from the higher level parking lot and quickly swamps the drain.
Steve Renwick, the City of South Lyon Department of Public Works Superintendent, said that his department has been looking at the drain located at the back of the building. The drain is not owned and maintained by the city, Renwick said, although the DPW has assisted a plumber hired by Muller to look at the drain with special cameras. He said there didn't seem to be any problems with the drain itself.
"When somebody does have a problem we do what we can to help out," Renwick said.
When flooding problems persisted at Little Monkeys, last month Brigmon's husband, Scott, removed a small patch of drywall on the back wall of the store.
"The drywall was covered with black and green mold," Brigmon wrote in a letter to Muller. "It is, of course, very likely that the entire rear drywall of the building is full of mold." Brigmon has since had the air tested by Advanced Air Quality. Results of testing are pending.
Because of the mold, Brigmon has had to shut down her business. Before moving into the building, Brigmon and her husband made considerable renovations to the building including lighting upgrades, a drop ceiling, new floors and a painted walls.
Last week, the Brigmons returned consignment merchandise to residents who had given clothing to the resale store, and Little Monkeys appeared closed for business. Legal issues between tenant and landlord continued, however.
Muller maintained that the business owners remained responsible for rent during the period of the lease.
"Please be advised," Muller stated in a letter to Brigmon dated Sept. 12, "that if you vacate the building and to not plan to return, you will be in violation of the lease and I will take the appropriate action in order to protect my interest."
On the sidewalk last Thursday Brigmon looked after her children and tended to her consignees, many of whom she has come to know as more than just customers.
"Everyone has been so kind and understanding," Brigmon said.
Contact Jessie Ellis at 888-312-7173 or firstname.lastname@example.org .