Wednesday, July 5, 2006
Help Me Howard: Landlord
If you are a renter you have probably had this problem: something breaks, something doesn't work. You call the landlord and nothing happens. So what can you do? A few things, according to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN--You have to give Latasia credit. She has not lost her sense of humor.
Latasia Jackson: "Thats my baby. She's my four legged daughter."
The dog makes her laugh. The problem, dogging her makes her howl.
Latasia: "It's sewage. It's actually a polite smell. It's worse than this. That's sewage, exactly."
If may face doesn't tell you. Her apartment smells like a septic tank. This is her son's bedroom, with its wet slick floor.A ten year old in this?
Latasia: "This is a good day."
And if you want to know where the water is pouring down from. We'll let your eyes tell you.
Latasia: "This is soft. If you push this hard enough. The whole wall will go in. So, the whole wall is full of water. Exactly."
Her wall is full of holes---and she is not alone in her misery. Her next door her neighbor has the same stinking problem.
Kimberly Hunter: "Thats just water coming from there, from the toilet, from the sink down here. So water is just pouring out. Right. Then in our bedroom we wake up to water."
There are 28 apartments in this Liberty City building. Latasia says she has been complaining to the landlord about the smelly mess since March.
Latasia: "March nothing happened. April nothing happened,June, May nothing happened. Now we are in June."
After the landlord refused to fix the problems, Latasia refused to pay the rent. And on really bad days, spent the rent money on a motel room.
Latasia: If not with a family member, a hotel. A little shabby hotel up the street somewhere.
But Howard if the landlord refuses to correct a horrific problem...Can you stop paying the rent...
Howard Finkelstein: "No you can't stop paying the rent. But you can stop paying the landlord. To do that you need to send what the law calls a 7 Day Letter giving them of course 7 days to fix the problem. If they don't you can then break your lease and move out or pay the rent to clerk of the courts office until a judge determines who is at fault."
Of course there is one question that I am sure you wanting to ask.
Fraser: "Why are you staying here?"
Latasia: "I have nowhere else to stay. We have nowhere else to go."
The Liberty City apartments rent for only 500 dollars a month. Cheap, but not nice. So, they complain and complain.
Latasia: "I called the Health Department. They gave me Team Metro. Team Metro gave me a number to Tallahassee.Well they said they can't do nothing about it."
Are the government agencies right Howard?Do people have to live like this?
Howard Finkelstein: "Emphatically, no. Some government agencies dropped the ball here. If you are in a situation like this send that letter out. And if you can't get it corrected, get out of there for your own health."
According to County records the property was recently sold for one point two million dollars. The new owner told me he is trying to fix up the place. He said his people tried to get into the units to repair them but the tenants don't trust them and wont open the door. He said for liability reasons they cannot just go into the units. He added we're doing everything legally,Including evicting some residents.
Latasia: "I got an eviction notice on my door a week ago."
I then contacted the Homeless trust in miami dade. They offered to find a place for Kimberly and Latasia's families as they now search for a better, cleaner place to rent.
Patrick Fraser: "Do you think people realize that people live like this?"
Kimberly: "I guess not because they sitting out there in their 5 bedroom houses in doral living nice."
Patrick Fraser: "The Dade County Homeless trust did a great job. They gave Latasia some money to make a down payment on a new apartment. Kimberly also found a new place. If you have a significant problem-- like sewage or no running water, call Code Enforcement and the Health Department and throw in that 7 day letter to get the clock ticking."
Problems pouring down on you? Wanna clean up the stinking mess? Contact us. We aren't available for rent, but our legal advice is yours to keep.
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