What To Do If Your Landlord’s Roof Leaks

(WSVN) - It’s the rainy season, meaning roofs are leaking. Do you have to live with that if you are a renter? And what happens if your landlord can’t evict you, so they change the locks? Lots of questions and answers in tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Today, it seems like South Floridians are facing two kinds of problems — the coronavirus-related nightmares, and the second hurdle? Everything else.

Let’s begin with the normal irritations in life.

Erica Garland, leaky roof: “And my house was literally flooded.”

Two months ago, Erica put down $1,850 on this duplex.

Erica Garland: “And he told me, ‘No worries on the holes, that it should not leak.'”

Mother Nature proved the landlord wrong when about eight inches of rain came down and into Erica’s home.

Erica Garland: “The leaking started by the front door. Then, another start by the door, then my daughter’s room, and her clothes are all wet and damaged.”

This video shows how soaked the clothes were in the closet. Erica called the landlord, and to his credit, he moved quickly.

Erica Garland: “They go in with a little bit of tar, try to fill the hole with caulking and that’s it.”

Mother Nature wasn’t impressed. It rained again the next day.

Erica Garland: “That one still leaks. They tried to do that there, and that still leaks.”

After just one month of watching water come into her home, Erica wants out of the place.

Erica Garland: “Should I still be staying here under these circumstances? Or should you give me my deposit, so I can move?”

Well, the rainy season brings the leaky roof season followed by the mold invasion. Howard, do renters have to live with a leaky roof?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “No, they don’t. If the landlord won’t or can’t fix it, send them a letter giving them seven days to correct the problem. If they don’t, you can terminate the lease, and they have to return your security deposit and any other money they owe you.”

Now let’s move to some coronavirus questions. A fellow said he was offered his job back, and his salary was cut in half. If he doesn’t take the job, does he lose his unemployment?

Howard Finkelstein: “This is complicated. If you have been unemployed less than 60 days, and you new salary is less than 90% of your old salary, you can turn the job down, and you will not lose unemployment. After collecting unemployment for more than 60 days, the complications begin, so we have explained that under this Help Me Howard story.”

The governor extended the ban on residential evictions until July, but now we’re hearing about frustrated landlords changing the locks and throwing tenants’ property out. What should the renters do, Howard?

Howard Finkelstein: “Call the police to document it. If they cannot get you back in, call legal aide. They are gearing up for this and can go after your landlord on your behalf.”

People who live in a high rise told us their association only allows one person on an elevator at a time, meaning some residents have to wait a long time to get up or down if they can’t climb the stairs. One person? Is that legal?

Howard Finkelstein: “The association can limit it to one person or a family in a condo, but if the wait becomes excessive, then you are denying people access to their home. What’s excessive? The law doesn’t explain it, so use common sense.”

Employees told us their company got PPP or Paycheck Protection Program money, but it was not used to bring employees back and pay them. Can they do anything about it?

Howard Finkelstein: “There is no guarantee for the old employees. The company doesn’t have to hire them back and can bring in new employees. If they don’t hire anyone, they have to repay the PPP money with interest. If you think fraud has happened, contact the federal government.”

Now, back to Erica and her leaky roof.

Erica Garland: “The landlord contacted me. He told me that he will give me my full deposit back, and I will be able to move.”

A good landlord leaving a happy Erica after her call to Help Me Howard.

Erica Garland: “I got the situation resolved. That’s what I wanted. I am very happy.”

Glad we could help you out, Erica.

Now, the links for the things we talked about, like how to sort through the unemployment mess, how to report PPP fraud and what to say in a 7 day letter, are down below.

And answers to other coronavirus questions are there under other stories, so take a look at them to stay on top of things.

What a Renter Should Say in a 7 Day Letter

Report PPP fraud

If your landlord tries to change the locks or evict you:

Miami-Dade County Legal Aid

Broward County Legal Aid

Greater Miami and Monroe County Legal Aid

When must a claimant accept a new job offer when collecting Florida unemployment benefits?

A claimant must accept any “suitable” job offer while collecting unemployment benefits. But not all job offers are considered suitable work. “Suitable” work is defined differently depending on how long a claimant has been unemployed. The longer a claimant is unemployed, the more that claimant is expected to seek employment in other occupations.
During the first 60 days of unemployment, “suitable” work is defined by rule as work that pays at least 90% of the claimant’s average weekly wage during the base period and does not require a “material change in occupation.” Fla. Admin. Code R. 73B-11.019. After 25 weeks of benefits in a single year, “suitable” work is defined as “a job that pays the minimum wage and is 120 percent or more of the weekly benefit amount the individual is drawing.” F.S. §443.101(2)

There are other factors besides rate of pay, in making a determination of “suitable” work, regardless of how long a claimant has been unemployed. By law, the State is required to consider the risk to the claimant’s health, safety and morals; the claimant’s physical fitness, prior training, earnings, length of unemployment, prospects for securing local work in the claimant’s customary occupation, and experience; and, the distance of available work from the claimant’s home. The State considers the statutory definitions in light of the claimant’s qualifications and restrictions, as well as labor market conditions, transportation, location of the job, prevailing wages and hours, alien status, and potential job opportunities.
Certain types of work are never considered suitable. Work is deemed unsuitable by law if the job is vacant due directly to a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute; the pay, hours or other conditions of the employment are substantially less favorable to the individual than those prevailing for similar work in the locality; or the claimant is required to join, refrain from joining, or resign from a union or bona fide labor organization.

For additional information, click here.

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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