Monday, April 1, 2013
Help Me Howard: Breaking Lease
If you are a renter, odds are you have had problems: a flooded floor, an electrical problem, cabinets falling off the wall. And this is not at several apartments; it's what one woman is facing, so can she break her lease and move out? It's why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Now, if you are renter and you think your apartment is bad...
Monique Edwards: "As soon as I opened the door, there was water everywhere."
Listen to what Monique Edwards has faced since she moved into her Florida City apartment.
Monique Edwards: "I had a problem with the electricity. It shut off and it spoiled most of my food."
Monique Edwards: "So after that I had an issue with the hot water heater."
Monique Edwards: "Whenever the people next door use their dishwasher, their dishwasher water runs into my apartment."
Monique Edwards: "And then I had plumbing issues with the bathroom."
And we're not done, saving the best -- I mean worst -- for last.
Monique Edwards: "And after that the cabinets fell off the wall this year and it almost crushed my daughter. She was right there and she was chasing after her blue ball."
The falling cabinets were held by two screws.
Monique Edwards: "And I can see in the dark the cabinets coming down one by one: boom, boom, boom, boom."
It's been a disaster for Monique and her three kids, and to think, when she saved her money and moved here, her kids considered this place paradise.
Monique Edwards: "And they like this place. They call it the blue house. I call it the horror house."
Monique wants to move out.
Monique Edwards: "I deserve more. My kids deserve more."
But her lease doesn't expire until December, so her landlord gave her an option.
Monique Edwards: "I had to pay the fee to terminate my lease, which was 1,500 hundred and some dollars. I don't have 1,500 and some dollars."
Pay to escape from this place. In Hollywood this would be turned into a Jim Carrey comedy, but it's Florida City, and Monique is not laughing.
Monique Edwards: "I feel stuck. I'm very angry, I feel so cheated, I feel lied to."
Well, Howard, she has a lease she wants to break, but can't afford the $1,500 to escape. Legally, what are her options?
Howard Finkelstein: "This is what the law calls legally uninhabitable, and as a tenant you have the right to write a 7-day letter advising the landlord to fix the problems. If the landlord does not fix the problems within 7 days, then they are in breach of the lease. You can move out and get your security deposit back."
We then talked to the regional manager of the property management company. She claimed she was unaware of the issues, that their person on the site didn't tell her about them. The manager apologized for the poor customer service, agreed to make sure all the problems were fixed, and offered Monique a month's free rent if she didn't break the lease and stayed.
Monique Edwards: "Thank you, Channel 7 and Help Me Howard, for getting my landlords to come out and fix my apartment."
Monique surprised us. She probably could have broken the lease and moved out, but she took a free month's rent and decided to stay.
Monique Edwards: "I did have the opportunity to leave, but I probably would have been in a duplex and it would have probably been even worse than this."
Hopefully things won't continue to break and fall apart in that apartment for Monique. Now, if you a major problem like she did and want to send a 7-day letter, hand deliver it and also send it certified mail to your landlord. If you are lucky, the landlord will fix the problem, because in most cases you don't want to move. Moving is a pain in the neck.
Rented a problem you feel like you own? Wanna break free? Let us move in. We can't replace a cabinet, but we can build a decent legal case for you. With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News.
Contact Help Me Howard: