TAMPA, Fla. — The new management company of a dilapidated apartment complex in Tampa said they are working to remedy years of neglect.
Residential Management, Incorporated took over the management of Timberfalls apartments at the end of May 2022. Ken Carter, the vice president of operations, spoke to ABC Action News about the takeover.
“We knew that the property was going to be a challenge from day one," Carter said.
Carter said he and his staff have been on the property for about 50 days since taking over.
In that time, he said they have spent about $75,000 in repairs and have allocated even more to address the long-standing issues.
“Our goal is to fix the roofs. The roofs that are leaking. Gutters. We have contractors out here today walking for the sidewalk repairs and asphalt to redo the parking lot. We have maintenance guys that are working on work orders as quickly as we possibly can," Carter said.
On Friday, residents received three-day notices that said they owed thousands of dollars from issues stemming from back pay, fines, and other fees. Residents said they were told if they didn't pay they would be evicted, but said they were up to date on their payments.
Carter said the three-day notice letters were given to open a line of communication between tenants.
“Listen, a lot of the phone numbers did not work in our files that we were given by the seller. We are trying to get ahold of balances and what’s what. We did not have what was listed as section 8 on housing or what was listed as conventional housing apartment," Carter said.
Councilman Luis Viera, who represents this area, toured the property Monday and said the promised changes are a "positive first step."
"These are people who don't have a voice. These are a lot of people that in the eyes of too many people in society, don't matter," Viera said.
But he also says that Carter and the management team acknowledge that sending those notices probably wasn't the best move.
"If people owe something let's work with them on that, which I've been promised they are, but let's have a proper accounting of who owes what," Viera said.
Amalia McCray is one of the many people who received the three-day notice letter. She filed complaints with the previous owners about her windows that don't close properly, leaks from her dishwasher and bathroom, and what looks to be mold. She said her interaction with the new management company has been limited.
“On the 5th of July I gave her the section 8 again and after that, I addressed all my issues where I had a chance to speak and she said we’ll get to those things. I never heard back from her," McCray said.
McCray is in the process of filing new work orders for issues that continue in her unit.
“I look forward to them doing you know what they tell us they’re going to do because you know you have to give people a chance and I know you know it’s for the better that they do do it but I’m hoping so. I don’t want to doubt them because I know they done took over so I know they’re not going to leave us hanging. I’m hoping not. I’m trying to have faith in them," McCray said.
Kathy Ballard and her boyfriend Jason Webb are in the same boat. They're dealing with roaches, rust, poor plumbing and flooring, and crumbling concrete in their apartment—and claim new management hasn't done much to help them fix things.
"All I want is a liveable apartment. I pay almost a thousand dollars a month to live like this," said Ballard.
Moving forward, Carter tells ABC Action News that they hope the people living there will give them a chance.
"It’s just before you [pass] judgment on us wait and see what we do first. Give us the chance to make the changes because that’s what we want to do," he said.
But Webb and Ballard say actions will speak louder than words in this case.
"If you tell me you're going to come fix something, be here," said Webb.
In the meantime, Carter said contracts have been signed to address the roofing issues. He said it may take time to fix them due to a four-month back order on supplies. In addition, Carter said more than a dozen air conditioning units have been ordered, additional appliances have been ordered and an AC company is set to visit the complex on Tuesday. The management company said they are also bringing in security to look over the complex.
Staff is currently working on setting up an online portal for residents to file complaints. Until then they can file it at the office.