(WSVN) - Your landlord won’t return your security deposit, is jacking up your rent or won’t repair an alarm that has been beeping for months. What can you do? Let’s bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser for the answers.

Some people are just happy, always smiling. Like Daniela.

Daniela Alzate: “Yes, I really am. I promise I am.”

Giving Daniela and her husband Carlos more reason to smile … look and you can see.

Daniela Alzate: “I am pregnant, yes. Seven months.”

Patrick Fraser: “You excited?”

Daniela Alzate: “Extremely excited.”

But something outside their apartment door literally gives them headaches.

Daniela Alzate: “That alarm that’s driving us insane.”

The device that monitors the fire alarm has been making a loud beeping sound, all day and all night, for the past 18 months.

Daniela Alzate: “So when I wake up in the middle of the night, that’s all I hear.”

Daniela has contacted the property management at the Miramar complex. Nothing’s been done … but with a baby on the way, she says, something now has to be done.

Daniela Alzate: “I want it off now for my sake, for my sleep, but I definitely need it off for when the baby is here.”

I can’t imagine that sound all day, every day, so Howard, what do you do if your landlord won’t fix it?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “While you usually have to deal with your landlord, in this case, give up on them. A fire monitor that appears to be malfunctioning is serious. Contact the fire marshal, they will solve the problem.”

And we did that. We will tell you what happened, but first, a few more rental questions we get a lot.

If you have a major problem — a leaky roof, a broken lock on the front door — and your landlord won’t fix that, what should you do?

Howard Finkelstein: “Send your landlord a letter giving them 7 days to fix the problem. Let them know that if they don’t, you will withhold till the problem is corrected, or you will move out. Make sure you send the letter certified mail or hand deliver it.”

Security deposits. So many renters clean up, move out, and the landlord refuses to return their money.

Howard Finkelstein: “Patrick, first make sure you do a walk-thru with the landlord. If they won’t, videotape as you leave the property. If they don’t return the money, you might have to take them to small claims court, but you will have that video to prove you are owed the money.”

So many renters are calling us as their landlords are raising the rent by hundreds of dollars a month, even by $1,000 in a few cases. Legally, are they out of luck?

Howard Finkelstein: “Yes, but – I say but because tenants need to fight back. Contact your legislator to see if they can create some laws to protect tenants, because rent is getting out of control, and thousands of people are going to be on the street.”

Back to that alarm.

The management company didn’t return my call to explain why they hadn’t fixed the alarm in 18 months. I then contacted Miramar Fire Rescue, and they were great. They asked the property manager to take care of the device.

They did. Turns out it was a couple of faulty modules that are now working … quietly.

Daniela Alzate: “Yes, definitely very excited. It is turned off, and I hope it stays like that, because I was able to sleep all night yesterday.”

Now, when the baby boy arrives in February, Daniela and Carlos may not have a full night’s rest, but it won’t be an alarm keeping them up..

Daniela Alzate: “I am so glad I called you guys. Thank you. We appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts.”

Glad we could help, and enjoy that baby. It will be the highlight of your life.

Howard Finkelstein: “And one more suggestion: before you sign a lease for a rental, make sure you see the unit you are getting. Don’t let them tell you it’s still occupied or being cleaned for you. With soaring rents, you want to like what you are leasing.”

A problem left you alarmed? Want to get that ringing out of your ears? Send it over to our crib, and let us give birth to a solution. (Sometimes I have to stretch for some of those.)

With Mr. Finkelstein, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

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

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