Can’t Renew Lease?

(WSVN) - Do you like the place where you rent? What would you do if your lease was expiring and your landlord said they’re not renewing it? Do you have the right to renew, especially if it’s difficult for you to move at that time? It’s a question one South Florida woman had for Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

If you think you have hurdles and headaches, meet Melissa Hevenor.

Melissa Hevenor, trying to renew lease: “I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. This was of course before the cancer.”

Life has dealt Melissa a few blows, but her outlook on life is as healthy as ever.

Melissa Hevenor: “It’s a beautiful day, and I have a great apartment, and I’m meeting new people. I don’t like to focus on my cancer or my disability. I like to focus on all the positive things.”

Her great attitude has helped Melissa earn two master’s degrees and lead a busy life.

Melissa Hevenor: “I traveled, I wrote a book, I had boyfriends, I got engaged — I did all that stuff.”

And then in July, she got very sick, couldn’t work, and was hospitalized..

Melissa Hevenor: “And I couldn’t get the check to the leasing office, but they knew. I was staying in contact with them.”

Melissa paid July’s rent but was a day late with her August rent, and her apartment complex decided to evict her.

Melissa Hevenor: “I’m not exactly sure why. I’m a very quiet tenant.”

A generous man heard about Melissa’s problem and offered to pay her rent for the next three months to stop the eviction. Melissa was overwhelmed.

Melissa Hevenor: “I don’t usually get emotional but…”

But when Melissa’s lease was about to expire in December, her property manager wouldn’t talk to her about renewing it, meaning she was facing eviction in a couple of weeks.

Not enough time to find a place that can handle her wheelchair.

Melissa Hevenor: “It’s really hard to find a one bedroom apartment that has a big enough bathroom that I can get into with the wheelchair.”

Melissa was facing eviction — not where she expected to be in 2019.

Melissa Hevenor: “I have a really good education, and I’m trying really hard to do what’s right and to stand on my own four wheels.”

Melissa is trying to stay positive. But Howard, does she have the right to get her lease renewed by her landlord?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Unfortunately, no. Many people think they have a right to renew their lease, but unless that option is in your lease, the landlord has all the power, and not only do they not have to renew, they do not even have to tell you why.”

We contacted the attorney for the apartment complex. He said his client didn’t want Melissa to stay and didn’t tell us why.

We then contacted the owner of the complex, who said she was unaware of Melissa’s situation.

The attorney then said Melissa could stay three more months, which gives her time to find a new place.

Melissa Hevenor: “That’s because of Help Me Howard.”

And remember the man who paid her rent for the last three months of the year?

Stuart Kalb, volunteer to help Melissa: “She has no family. She had nobody to turn to.”

Stuart Kalb told us he would now also pay Melissa’s rent for the next three months while she looks for a new apartment.

Stuart Kalb: “I know she didn’t have the money. I felt horrible for the woman and the situation. Obviously, I had the ability to do it, and I thought this was one of those situations where you have to help somebody in the community.”

Melissa needs a little more help because she is back in the hospital with pneumonia.

But while she may not feel fantastic, she still has her great outlook on life.

Melissa Hevenor: “I learned that it’s OK sometimes to ask for help, and to always be hopeful and keep moving forward.”

We can all learn from your great attitude, Melissa.

If you know of an apartment in Broward that is wheelchair accessible, please let us know.

And while she recovers, a GoFundMe page has been set up to pay her other bills. To donate, click here.

Battling someone who needs an attitude adjustment? Ready to grin in the gloom? Contact us. We have the right outlook and will look out for you.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.