UPDATE | After our report aired on ABC Action News at 11 p.m., Elon Property Management reached out to Sandy Branson and let her out of her lease. They also got a crew out to remove the tree.
ORIGINAL STORY | It has been a long week for Sandy Branson. She survived a tree crashing into her ceiling during Hurricane Irma and is now staying at a motel after she says her complex won’t fix the damage or let her out of her lease.
On Sunday night, Branson said an oak tree outside her building was hit by lightning. The force of the bolt split the tree in two. Branson was on her couch when the limb came crashing in.
“This whole ceiling might even fall,” Branson said.
The front living room has water running down from the ceiling to the floor and her front door barely opens because the tree damaged the frame. Branson says no attempt has been made to put a tarp to keep the rain out. Maintenance did put a fan on the carpet to try and dry out the floor as rain water keeps pouring in.
“This is their idea of drying the floor! It's never going to dry with that blower. So, you know what's going to be there in two weeks, mold because it's already over here,” Branson said.
ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska reached out to Elon Property Management, we have not heard back. An employee at High Points Apartments told Paluska over the phone, “code enforcement has been out everything is good, no comment” then abruptly hung up the phone.
“I don't want to live here I don't want to be treated like that,” Branson said.
We have calls into Pasco County Emergency Management to try and get answers about the officer manager’s claims that code enforcement looked at the building. Branson finds it very hard to believe.
“They weren’t here,” Branson said. “That’s something they (corporate) told her to say.”
Branson says she has spent nearly a $1000 in motel bills. She wants to be let out of her lease so she can find a new place to live and get her life back in order.
“I said all I want is for you to wipe my lease and pay for my moving expenses and they said no they are going to dry it out with blowers patch the roof and I should move back in.”
According to Florida law “the landlord is required to rent a dwelling that is fit to be lived in. It must have working plumbing, hot water and heating, be structurally sound and have reasonable security, including working and locking doors and windows, and it must be free of pests. The landlord also must comply with local health, building and safety codes. If the landlord has to make repairs to make the dwelling fit to live in, the landlord must pay.”