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Landlord Claims Second Chance Ministries Church Is Problem Tenant

8:23 PM, Oct 13, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There are three tenants in a West Jacksonville strip mall on Catoma Street, and the mall's landlord said all are in good standing - except the church.

"He doesn't want to pay," said Lenora Manusuthakis, 90.  She owns the strip mall and is the landlord.

"I want him out of the building. If they don't want to pay, I want him out of the building," she said.

The landlord changed the locks, but she said the pastor went around the back, entered and removed the locks. Now there are chains on the front doors on the inside.

"We put the chains on the door," said Pastor Tommy Brown, who is in charge of Second Chance Ministries, "because she changed the locks."

"We just owe them one month, just for October we do," he said.

The church moved in last September, and Brown said there is no lease agreement; it is month to month. The monthly rent is $1,500. "We have the $1,500.  That's all we owe," he said.

Elaine Lanoue, her daughter and the owner of the thrift shop next door. Lanoue, who helps her mother to manage the property, claims the church has been a difficult neighbor.

"He's a preacher and he shouldn't be doing this.  He's supposed to be teaching us better things," she said.

Lenora Manusuthakis said the church owes three months worth of rent and she wants Second Chance Ministries to move out.

Brown said this dispute is being marred by family infighting and he would prefer they take it to court. "Let's go to court and let's just allow a judge to decide," said Brown.

Sterling Ivey, press secretary for the Florida Division of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said landlord-tenant disputes are among the department's top 10 complaints.

Ivey said the rules are the same whether it is commercial or residential property.

A. If you're month to month, the landlord can give you a two-week notice to vacate the premises.

B. The landlord cannot change the locks or remove the doors to get the tenant to move.

C. If you withhold the rent, it needs to be placed in an escrow account, preferably with the clerk of courts.

D. Evictions are by court order.           





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