KISSIMMEE, Fla. — More than 400 families living at the Caribbean Isle Apartments found out Wednesday that their apartment complex could possibly be condemned, forcing tenants to find another place to stay.
What You Need To Know
Caribbean Isle residents learn complex could be condemned
Kissimmee officials have given management a month to resolve issues
Kissimmee officials are working to get code enforcement violations certified
Toho Water Authority notified residents it will bill residents directly soon
Right now, Raneshya Norman and her toddler are stuck playing ball in the parking lot instead of being able to use their complex’s amenities.
“We don’t deserve to be going through this if our bills and our utility and everything we’re supposed to be paying,” Norman said.
It was difficult to even find a unit at Caribbean Isle Apartments in Kissimmee, Norman said. She moved back in April but was never warned that the trash and lawn were not going to be maintained or that management owed thousands of dollars in utilities.
Now, the City of Kissimmee is working on getting code enforcement violations certified.
At the complex, alarms go off. The city worked with Kissimmee Utility Authority to restore electricity to the common areas, but in the process, it identified at least six buildings with fire alarms that don’t work. The city has given Alliance HTFL Limited Partnership/Atlas Residential Management a month to correct these problems.
“The health and safety of the Caribbean Isle residents is one of our top priorities, and if Caribbean Isle does not come into compliance within those 30 days we’re giving them, of correcting the outstanding fire safety issues, then the City of Kissimmee Fire Department will have to come in and mark those structures as unsafe and then the City of Kissimmee will have to require those residents to vacate the premises,” City of Kissimmee spokesperson Melissa Zayas-Moreno said.
Toho Water Authority said Caribbean Isle owes them nearly $114,000. Residents got a notice on their doors Wednesday that said the management company agreed to allow residents to be directly billed.
We obtained a copy of the new contract. According to the agreement, during the initial phase, the bill will be based on a prorated flat charge. Starting in September, residents would make their first payment to Toho.
“And it just got worse and worse,” Norman said.
To add to their frustrations, residents said the apartment’s payment website is down and no one is at the clubhouse to pick up checks, leaving tenants unsure how to pay rent for July.
“I feel like they failed us for sure. They’ve definitely failed us,” Norman added.
Charles Gallagher, a civil law attorney for Gallagher & Associates Law Firm, which focuses on real estate, said a lease protects both parties involved. Tenants should be ready to pay something but shouldn’t be forced to pay rent in its totality, Gallagher said.
“So keep it on hand, keep it handy in the event there is some sort of resolution where they are required to pay something for what they’re getting,” Gallagher said. “Maybe discount or abate part of that rent because of still being able to live in the apartment but not getting services or other amenities that are part of the package.”
Norman just wants a place where she and her 3-year-old can live safely.
“I am trying to pull everything together and figure out what we’re gonna do from here but it’s not easy,” she said.
Spectrum News 13 reached out to Alliance HTFL Limited Partnership/Atlas Residential Management multiple times to get the management company’s side of the story or a comment but has not received a response.
Residents may be eligible to get help through the County’s COVID-19 Housing Assistance fund. Money in that program is still available through the programs created during the pandemic.