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No Hot Water

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How often have you thought, I cant wait to get home to a nice hot shower, or soak in a warm bath? Now how would you feel if it was only a cold shower, a cold bath, because your landlord wasn't supplying the hot water you paid for in your rent? That's what 18 South Florida families were living with, so they called the people who can help: Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

WSVN -- If you see Donna Edwards' kids out playing, you will see her out watching.

Donna Edwards: "It's hard, but I keep up with them. By myself -- three kids, single mother -- I take care of them by myself."

A single mom, with a wonderful philosophy.

Donna Edwards: "I chose to have kids, so I have to choose to make sure that they are good and do things that they like to do."

She chose to have three children. She didn't chose to put them all in their current situation.

Donna Edwards: "They are unable to take a hot shower for at least three weeks; no hot water at all."

Donna and her children live in this Liberty City apartment complex, an 18-unit building where every resident has the same problem.

Patrick Fraser: "What's it like taking a cold shower?"

Jeffrey Young: "Man, it's like spinning around like Michael Jackson.

Patrick Fraser: "Trying to dodge the water?"

Jeffrey Young: "Trying to dodge the water, man."

Jamais Henderson: "I don't know what's going on over there, man. It ain't no fun."

Donna Edwards: "You are freezing, like you're standing there. We ain't in no Third World country; we should not have to take cold baths."

The 18 apartments are supposed to get their hot water from this gas heater, which looks as old as me. Since hot water is included in their rent, Donna called the complex manager.

Donna Edwards: "The first week he was like, you know, 'The next day you will have hot water,' then the next day, 'You will have hot water,' and then after that, no response and no call."

Three weeks later, the gas bill to run the hot water heater had still not been paid. Like everyone else, Donna has to boil water for her kids to bathe.

Donna Edwards: "It just becomes so annoying. I'm just tired of constantly boiling water."

And Donna says she bets the apartment manager or apartment owner doesn't live like their tenants.

Donna Edwards: "When he goes home at night, him, his kids, his family, none of them are taking cold showers."

No one wants to take a cold shower, and all the residents and their children are asking for one simple thing.

Donna Edward's son: "Can I have hot water. Can you help us, please?"

We will try, little man. So, Howard, legally is a landlord required to provide hot water?

Howard Finkelstein: "Yes, they are. Florida state law requires all landlords to comply with local minimum housing standards, which requires hot running water for the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink and showers and bathtubs. If they do not provide that, the owner can be fined or the apartments could be shut down."

I called the person listed as the complex manager and left several messages. He didn't return any calls, but later that day a worker from the gas company came out and turned the gas on. He told the residents the bill got paid that afternoon.

Donna Edwards: "Yeah, we got hot water now."

But the problems aren't over. A few days later, the residents got this notice on their door that said their water was going to be turned off if the landlord did not pay the bill. That day, the garbage was piled up as well. I then called the City of Miami, who moved quickly, sending out the building department and code enforcement to inspect this complex. Donna was then told the landlord was not happy, and since he might be getting in hot water, the heat was going to be turned up on her.

Donna Edwards: "I was going to be evicted because I reached out to you all, cause we didn't have no hot water."

Patrick Fraser: "You think it's about time to move?

Donna Edwards: "Well, it's past time to move. It's just, I was thinking about my three kids, and my funds are not as big."

Don't worry, Donna. We will be watching this place to make sure no one comes after you.

The minimum housing standards that the feds require cities and counties to follow cover 250 items that are common sense. For example, a rental has to have a stove with two working burners; the bathroom must have a door. If your rental doesn't have those things, you may find the list of minimum standards and the link to file a complaint at the end of this Help Me Howard.

Troubles left you steaming? Ready to get them in hot water? Contact us. Hopefully we can shower you with a solution.

With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Minimum Housing Standards
http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/hud?src=/program_offices/housing/ramh/mps/mhsmpsp

Miami-Dade County
http://www.miamidade.gov/building/standards/residential-minimum-housing.asp

Broward County http://www.broward.org/permittingandlicensing/communitycode/pages/codecomplianceassistancerequest.aspx

 

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:

E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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