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Westside woman: 'I have 16 leaks on the roof'

6:29 PM, Jun 10, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It has become a case of a roofing road block. 

On Your Side reporter, David Williams, got answers for a woman who said she needed help with her roof.

Jacksonville is home for Rachel Fortner. She moved to her West Side apartment, Westcreek II, last August because it reminds her of her dream cabin. That dream is on a different course now after an accident that left her a paraplegic.

"I deal with it. I keep a smile on my face," Fortner said with a smile. "There's a lot more people that's worse off than I am."

She regularly helps several people in her neighborhood. She told FCN that she cooks for some of them.

"Even with just a smile on your face, it brightens up somebody else's day," Fortner said.

But the problems she's had with her roof and ceiling make it hard for her smile.

"I now have 16 leaks on the roof," she said, after counting and showing FCN where they were located.

She said the leaks were mainly in her living room. She claims that on a rainy day, you'd see bowls and pots on furniture to catch the leaking water.

Fortner said the apartment's temporary solution is to put a big blue tarp over her place. 

But, she said that's not enough.

"In a nutshell, I would like to be able to not get wet when I'm inside my roof," Fortner said. "But also, too, I'm scared that some of those spots up there could be mold."

Westcreek II's property manager told FCN they profusely apologize for Fortner's frustration and said they're aware of it.

After raising the question, FCN was told Fortner's roof will be repaired or replaced. The property manager said the process will begin this week.

Board Certified Real Estate Attorney, Barry B. Ansbacher offered some general advice for renters.

1. Call the landlord or the agent immediately to inform them of the problem. Get the name of who you speak with and record the date and time (an email to yourself works for those who live in a digital world). Ask them for a specific action proposal, for example, I will send the super by to investigate, and a date and time that you should call back if the follow-up they promise does not happen. Send a written confirmation of the telephone call to the landlord or agent.

• Florida's Landlord Tenant Laws require the landlord to maintain roofs windows and exterior walls. (s.83.51(1)(b) Fla. Stat.) but check your lease if you are in a single family home or duplex because the lease agreement may switch this responsibility to the tenant.

2. If the landlord does not fix the leak right away and you want to move out, you should send a written notice specifying the problem that has not been fixed and stating that if not fixed within 7 days of the letter you will terminate the lease. BUT, note that this means you really intend to vacate. If the landlord fixes the problem within 7 days you can't cancel the lease, but you are entitled to a credit against rent for the time you could not live in the unit.

3. Try and protect your property as best you can, and photograph and video the damage. File a claim with your renter's insurance policy if you have one.

City of Jacksonville spokesperson, Debbie Delgado, offered additional advice to renters in the city:

1) Report maintenance issues to apartment management.

2) If management fails to respond within a timely manner, please submit their concern to 630-CITY(2489), provide their name and contact number to schedule an on-site appointment to inspect the unit.

3) Prior to paying rent deposit and move-in, request to view interior conditions within the actual unit for rent -- not a staged or model unit.

First Coast News

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