A Nashville tenant has taken her dispute about brown recluse spiders in her apartment to the state.
Earlier this month, Kelly Artrip told Channel 4 News the scene looks like it's straight out of a scary movie, and said the poisonous pests have been showing up since April.
Now, she said the apartment complex, Mission Brentwood, would not let her out of her lease, so she has taken a major step toward getting out of the apartment by appealing to the state consumer affairs division.
"I'm just shocked and appalled that there's nothing anyone can do," Artrip said.
Artrip is not the only one living with the uninvited and unwelcome housemates. Since the story aired, we have received calls and emails from nearly a dozen other renters, including a Hendersonville woman who found one in her baby's crib.
There are no state laws that protect tenants from living with poisonous spiders, but the Metro Public Health Department is checking to make sure Mission Brentwood is properly dealing with the brown recluse problem.
"We'd want them to treat it and eliminate it the best they could so the next person doesn't have the same problem," said Brian Todd, with Metro Public Health.
Now, Artrip's latest attempt to leave is a complaint she filed with the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs, which helps in disputes between tenants and landlords.
"A lot of times we're able to mediate to get the landlord's attention," said Consumer Affairs Director Gary Cordell.
Landlords have two weeks to respond after a complaint is filed. If they don't, they could end up on the state's "Buyer Beware" list or worse.
"It could be an enforcement issue that we get the attorney general's office involved," Cordell said.
Artrip's complaint is still in mediation, but officials said it's always important for tenants to keep their own safety in mind.
"First, deal with your safety. Then, if you have to deal with it in the courts, then deal with it in the courts at a later time," Cordell said.
Consumer advocates advise tenants to retain a lawyer if they are seeking damages in renters' disputes.
For more information on how to get free services, visit: http://tn.gov/consumer.
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