Tenants feel blindsided, tricked after resigning their lease months before getting kicked out

Tenants feel blindsided after eviction notices
Posted at 6:27 PM, Jun 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-21 06:44:27-04

Dozens of people now have to find a new place to stay after their landlord left a letter on their doors notifying them they have thirty days to leave or face legal action.

"It puts everybody in a bad situation," said Kathleen Aldi, who moved to the Fountainwood Manor apartments earlier this year. 

She's a veteran who just underwent major surgery, so she'll need to hire movers to help her resettle. 

That is, if she knew where she could go next. 

"I'm still living off my tax return," she said, "and I have $300 left and after that's gone, that's it.” 

Her neighbors next door are a little more fortunate. 

Douglas Thompson and his wife Linh Le found a new apartment. 

However, it will cost them an extra $250 a month and their move out date coincides with Le's due date. 

"We would have liked to get a place earlier," said Thompson, "definitely." 

Thompson thinks they could have known earlier. 

They found an anonymous letter on their door back in January alerting residents that the property was being rezoned. The owner was planning to sell so the apartments could be transformed into student housing. 

The property along University Square Drive is just seven minutes away from the main campus. 

The letter stated: "Start looking for a new place to live, as ownership wants to keep the rezoning a secret." 

Thompson says that same day they all got a second letter, this time from the owner of the property. The second letter addressed the first letter as "false information." 

"I have owned this property for over 13 years," he wrote,"and will continue to do so." 

As for the news about the rezoning and USF converting the apartments into student housing, he said it is true they want to do it in the long run, however, "they have been talking about this for years" and "so far there is no timetable and could take as long as 10 years before the city acts."

"Because of his assurances, many of the people in this community decided to renew their lease," said Thomson. 

Thomson says he and his wife say they themselves renewed their lease after the letter.

Now, nearly five months later, the residents received a another letter from the landlord, this time telling them they have thirty days to move out. 

"He gave us false assurance that he wasn't planning to sell," said Thompson, "but in fact that wasn't the case." 

Gary Miller, who manages the property and in the letter referred to himself as the owner, told us on the phone that he plans to meet with the residents by next week. 

"I'm doing everything on my part to be fair," he said. 

He says they'll work to make it a "win, win" situation for everyone. 

Aldi hopes he'll reconsider giving them just 30 days to move out. 

"I don't know where I'm going to go," she said, "cause a month just isn't long enough to find something."