TAMPA, Fla. - We have an update to a story we brought you earlier this month.
What You Need To Know
- Complaints of foul odors, rodents at some Tampa units
- Spectrum Bay News 9 repoted about the issues earlier this month
- PREVIOUS: Affordable Housing Tenants Stuck in Moldy, Infested and Damaged Apartments
Elected officials are looking into the claims from residents living in some of Tampa’s affordable housing units. Residents say the conditions they’re living in are deplorable.
“You cut the water on and you can smell the chlorine in it. We can’t drink that water,” one resident described. “And I was washing dishes the other day and a neighbor came and knocked on the door and she asked if I just got through mopping? I said, 'No, I’m washing dishes.' That’s how much chlorine coming out of the water. We literally have to go out and buy seven and eight cases of water just to have water in our house to drink.”
Another resident who lives in Palm Court went into detail about complaints of rodents. “What can we do when we go to the office and let the landlord know about the feces of the bats, and it's still up there on the steps everyday at night? I try to keep it clean," she said. “The boards over our heads, it’s been there for about two and a half years, open, rats, squirrels about to fall with nails in. it’s just ridiculous.”
Those are just some of the complaints Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera heard from residents during a recent virtual workshop. Each person detailed their living conditions at apartment complexes owned or managed by Tzadik Properties.
After the meeting we talked with Viera to get his response and asked if he thought this management company is a slumlord.
“Well you know I’m not gonna get into name calling right now,” Viera said. “Let’s just put it this way. What I saw out there, was deplorable. What I saw out there was shameful.”
Viera said he teamed up with the city’s code enforcement and paid a visit to Tzadik Properties Timberfalls Apartment Complex to see the conditions for himself.
“A lot of the residents at Timberfalls, I always tell people, are working people, surviving paycheck to paycheck,” he said. “Having to spend $800 to $900 a month on rent for apartments that frankly were not up to the standard of dignity that we would want for people living in the Tampa area or the United States.”
Tzadik Properties confirmed they own or manage at least 11 properties in the city of Tampa and in Hillsborough County.
Hillsborough County’s Code Enforcement provided us with a list of more than a dozen open cases involving Tzadik Properties with some of the fines are up to $500 a day. Hillsborough County Code Enforcement Director Joe Gross encourages anyone with complaints to contact them.
“it’s our commitment to make sure that people who live in Hillsborough County live in a sanitary, safe and pleasant condition and if they’re not getting their issues resolved in a timely basis after working with their property owner, by all means, please contact us,” Gross said.
Robin Lockett with Organize Florida said she talked to more than two dozen people living in six different apartment complexes owned by the company, and many didn’t know they could contact code enforcement. Which is why she says they hosted a recent “Know Your Rights” workshop.
Tzadik Properties responded to our questions about the resident complaints. They asked for the names and information of the residents with complaints. Part of one of their responses to our questions reads part, “We have been requesting and attempting to get the names and information of residents who have complaints or needs that require our assistance. We work with any and all tenants who present us with a problem to get those problems addressed. We encourage residents to come to us with any issues for the betterment of the property and their living experience. Tzadik is working with all tenants who have come to them with needs related to repairs and rental assistance. “
The company once again provided a list of money spent on repairs at complexes they own or manage, citing more than $4 million they’ve spent on repairs since acquiring their properties six years ago.
Hillsborough County commissioner Kimberly Overman said the company is doing the work.
“I do know the company is working on it because they’ve got eyes on now,” Overman said. “So that’s helpful so that way tenants know the organization is being reviewed and considered for making sure their violations are being addressed.”
Overman is also on the county’s Affordable Housing Board and while she commends Tzadik properties for their work getting complaints resolved, she does recognize there could be a disconnect with some residents. Overman said their research shows most people in need of affordable housing are minorities and single parents struggling to find a place to live, so they may have issues the county doesn’t know about.
“This is the hardest part about being 54,000 units short in available affordable housing units in Hillsborough County. It does unfortunately make tenants that rent feel very vulnerable,” Overman said.
Councilman Viera has a town hall planned with residents and other elected officials next month to inform residents of their rights. Organize Florida also plan to continue hosting virtual meetings to inform residents of their rights.