Tampa apartment complex faces multiple code violations, woman waits for action

Posted at 5:04 PM, Jun 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-30 17:06:51-04

A Tampa woman is patiently waiting for help from the proper authorities to hopefully get out a rental agreement with a local apartment complex.

Jacqueline Shanklin lives at the Courtyards on the River in Tampa and says her living conditions are becoming uninhabitable. 

For the past two months, Shanklin has had a leaking toilet that has caused her bathroom to flood and the water is seeping through the carpet and wood floor. 

Shanklin has filed a complaint with the city's Neighborhood Enhancement that files code enforcement violations. That is one of the first steps for any tenant-landlord disputes.

Right now, Shanklin's case is open, awaiting a hearing with a city magistrate at 9 a.m. on July 20. 

It's not a quick and fast action to get things fixed. Instead Shanklin said she will have to wait for proper documentation before she can hold any rent or hopefully be released from her contract. 

The biggest mistake renters make is not paying rent -- that leads to an eviction, something she is trying to avoid. 

"People will say why don't you just move," she said, "but it's not that easy. It's like checks and balances, you have to make sure that you're covered."

If you're stuck in a leasing contract, by law, you as a renter can't just stop paying rent or move out. Local experts tell us you need to send your landlord a formal letter listing out the problems that need to be fixed. Also, write out if they aren't fixed you will either not pay rent or will be moving out.

It is suggested you make this a certified letter so you know the letter is sent. 

According to Florida law, the responsible landlord has seven days to fix your reasonable complaints before you can leave or withhold rent. 

Shanklin dreams of owning a home, so she wants to avoid any evictions, or anything that could hurt her home mortgage process.

With a full time job, Shanklin says she pays her rent on time and is going to school to pursue criminal justice. She has lived at the complex for years but over that time it has been bought by new companies, so she thought things would change.

Along with code violations inside her complex, there are numerous large pot holes that need repaired and trash that spills over dumpsters. 

Right now, records show 17 open or in-progress violations. However, there are dozens of cases that have been reported, something code enforcement officials say isn't uncommon for a large complex. 

You can click here to check if violations have ever been filed where you rent in Tampa.

The complex did not get back to ABC Action News for this story.