FORT MYERS — As millions of people across Florida are struggling with bills, one housing community in Fort Myers is imposing new fines and even asking landlords to evict tenants.
The Colonnade at the Forum just recently passed a new rule that landlords have to pay a $1,000 security deposit, and many of those landlords are passing the cost on to their tenants, who don’t have jobs.
“There’s no work, we have no jobs, we’re in a crisis, and now they’re trying to do that?" said Gilemys Cabrera, who has been living in the Colonnade for more than two years with her husband.
When Cabrera went to renew her lease this year, she got a nasty surprise.
“On Monday, received this email stating that now, as a new and renewed tenant, we have to pay $1,000 security deposit to the HOA, made out to the Colonnade, and $100 per couple," said Cabrera.
For Cabrera, that cost is just too high. She and her husband have seen their income dwindle during the pandemic.
“I applied, yeah unemployment, of course unemployment. No answers and stimulus checks? I haven’t gotten it," said Cabrera.
The notice from her property manager only gives her 14 days to pay, leaving her with little options, but then, shortly after we spoke with her, Cabrera reached back out to us to tell us she’d been contacted by her landlord, who told her the homeowner’s association had denied her renewal request and wanted her out of the house in 10 days.
“Where am I going to go? I don’t have first, last, security to even move anywhere else. I’m secure, this is my home," said Cabrera.
The letter cited violations like “parking on the street” and “improper disposal of trash”. We reached out to an attorney to see if that’s legal.
“The association is compelling the landlord to do something that is impossible because of the moratorium on evictions," said real estate attorney Adam Stevens, with the law firm Powell, Jackman, Stevens & Ricciardi.
Stevens said the moratorium was put in place by the Governor, and lasts for 45 days, but he said, even if that law weren’t in place, an eviction still can’t happen that quickly.
“With the notice requirements in Florida, prior to giving notice to the tenant, it is impossible in the state of Florida to evict a tenant within 10 days," said Stevens.
So Cabrera should be able to have a home, for now, but she said the worry hangs over her head every night.
“It’s unbearable, it’s not right. It’s injustice, completely," said Cabrera.
In the reporting of this story, we reached out to the Colonnade Homeowner's Association and the property management company, but didn't hear back.