Couple frustrated over lack of repairs asked by apartment complex to sign away free speech

Posted at 1:15 AM, Jul 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-21 06:48:48-04

A local couple says their apartment management is trying to keep them from talking badly about the complex on social media.

Rebekah and Terry Hunt have been living in their apartment since April.

They snapped pictures of their apartment three weeks after moving in to the Aventine at Forest Lakes Apartments. In the pictures, you can see bugs under burners, on the stove and under the carpet, plus food and grime.

Hunt is pregnant and fears for her babies' health.

"I want it to be safe for my child to run around on the floor, crawl around without having to worry, do they have a cockroach in their mouth?" said Hunt.

She says some issues were fixed by maintenance. Others have not been, so her husband took to the internet, writing a blog and posting reviews about the complex.

They say management agreed to pay back their April pro-rated rent in exchange for silence.

"I was like, yea I'm not going to sign this," said Hunt.

If signed, the document requires the couple not to "report, or post anything negative to or on social media sites, from the beginning of the world, to the day of these presents."

Plus, the document says they would have to take down whatever they have already posted. In an e-mail to the Hunt's, management says it is a form they have any resident sign when waiving fees.

We reached out to the management, hoping they could give us a better understanding of the intent of the document. In response to our e-mail they wrote, "The ownership entity has no comment at this time other than we take our resident concerns seriously."

"I've spent so much time and effort and I'm just sick of it. I'm frustrated and I don't know where else to go," said Hunt.

Legal experts told ABC Action News the document is vague and could potentially keep them from getting issues settled or fixed in the future. They wouldn't recommend anyone sign it. 

The management company tells us they deal with tenant issues as soon as they can and some concerns take time.

ABC Action News contacted code enforcement for the City of Oldsmar. Since October of last year, the complex has not had any official violations. The city sent this statement:

The management company received a verbal request from our Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) to repair a portion of a fence and to replace a portion of a fence. These requests were completed.

Phone message from tenant to CEO about the trash compactor being broken. This resulted in a mobile dumpster placed onsite; which is picked up via the management companies vendor.

Phone message to CEO about a bad water leak. This took a while to fix; as the management company had to hire a private contractor to repair.

Phone messages to CEO about rats. Being nocturnal, it was not something our Code Enforcement Officer could investigate.  It was suggested to the Management Company to place bait and release boxes on the property.

If tenants have concerns over violations, they should contact their county or city code enforcement office.