Breaking A Lease

(WSVN) - Her neighbor across the hall terrifies her. Her landlord won’t evict him and won’t let her break her lease and leave. Is she stuck in that dangerous situation? And so she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser to find out how to get out of that lease.

Every one of us should take care of our face. Not everyone does of course, and that’s where Barbi Morgano comes in.

Barbi Jean Morgano, frightened by neighbor: “I deal with everyone that’s aging to everyone that’s going through hormonal changes.”

Barbi owns Bella Skin in Lauderdale by the Sea.

Barbi Jean Morgano: “I have a passion for skin care, and I love to help people.”

She loves being at work. Being at home is a different story.

Barbi Jean Morgano: “I have a very violent, intoxicated neighbor in the unit directly across the hall from me.”

The trouble started in April when her neighbor moved in.

He likes loud music and the later it gets, the louder it gets…

Barbi Jean Morgano: “I just kindly knocked and said that my son is sleeping, can you please turn the music down.”

The neighbor chewed Barbi out, so she called the police. It was the first of many calls…

Patrick Fraser: “How many times have you had to call the police?”

Barbi Jean Morgano: “Seven or eight.”

And each time Barbi has contacted the property manager at Berkshire Lauderdale by The Sea — each time she got the same reaction.

Barbi Jean Morgano: “She keeps saying it’s out of her hands, and she has turned it over to Berkshire’s attorneys.”

Then a few weeks ago at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning, Barbi asked her neighbor again to stop making so much noise.

Barbi Jean Morgano: “He came out and got in my face, screaming at me in my face, up very close like this.”

Barbi backed up to her door where her 10-year-old son was holding it open.

Barbi Jean Morgano: “They got in my face, started screaming and cursing at me. And I just ran behind my door as quick as I could, and they were pushing on it. And I just shut it with all my might and locked it.”

When the neighbor couldn’t get into her apartment, he ripped the wreath off her door.

Barbi Jean Morgano: “It’s very frightening.”

Barbi called police again to let them know he tried to break into her apartment. She was told unless he got in or they saw it, there was nothing they could do, leaving Barbi terrified in her own apartment.

Barbi Jean Morgano: “I’m not sleeping well.”

The lease on Barbi’s $2,200 a month apartment does not expire until March, and the complex will not let her out of her lease.

Patrick Fraser: “They won’t let you leave, but they won’t throw him out.”

Barbi Jean Morgano: “Correct.”

Then when Barbi learned her neighbor has a long history of run-ins with the law, including a felony charge and accusation of dating violence, she decided enough is enough.

Barbi Jean Morgano: “And I just want to leave calmly, peacefully and move on with my life.”

Howard, the lease says you can’t leave. What about the law in a case like this?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “The law is on Barbi’s side, and she can break her lease since she feels she is in danger. The reason … the landlord has to make reasonable efforts to provide a safe environment. In this case, they have not done that. The law calls this constructive eviction, meaning because of the landlord’s inaction, she has a right to leave and they have to return her security deposit.”

Barbi then started packing up, and in a first for us — we could not get anyone to talk to us.

The property manager at Berkshire Lauderdale by The Sea referred us to their corporate headquarters in Boston.

Neither their spokesman, their CEO or vice president would respond to more than a dozen emails and phone calls. A letter was sent to their lawyer … no response there either.

Howard Finkelstein: “Barbi should file in small claims court and sue to get her deposit back. No judge is going to tell a mother that she and her young child have to live in an apartment where they are subjected to insults and attacks.”

Barbi has moved out and could not be happier she broke her lease to move on.

Barbi Jean Morgano: “I had no choice. I made the right decision.”

Now if you have a neighbor that is threatening you or a landlord that’s not following the lease, another option to get out of that lease — send them a letter giving them seven days to correct the problem. Let them know if they don’t, you will be moving out after those seven days and they have to return your security deposit and any money they owe you.

If you need more information on your rights as a tenant we have some links under this Help Me Howard story.

Facing loud disturbances that are keeping you awake? Ready to evict them from you life? Contact us. Hopefully we can give you a new lease on life that will be soothing music to your ears.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Rights and Duties of Tenants and Landlords
https://www.floridabar.org/public/consumer/tip014/

Landlord Tenant Law
http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Consumer-Resources/Consumer-Rights-and-Responsibilities/Landlord-Tenant-Law-in-Florida

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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