MELBOURNE, Fla. — A Brevard County woman learned an entire garage full of memories may have been thrown out with the trash.
Jennifer Cook moved into the Coral Gardens Condominiums in Melbourne with her mother in 2014 after serving in the U.S Air Force. It was a small condo, so she rented garage number 8 in the complex to store her belongings.
Cook said, “It was never an issue to leave the items in the garage because they rented them to non-residents.”
So, even after she and her mother moved out a few years later, she continued renting the garage. Cook showed Action 9 records indicating she’s been paying rent of $75 a month to a property management company out of south Florida called TIS Management.
But in early October of this year when she returned with her key to the garage, she realized there was a problem.
“I attempted to enter the garage, that was when I discovered the lock had been changed,” she said.
Someone at the complex office told her the garage had been rented to another tenant and her belongings had been discarded, 46 years of memories, including her military uniforms, were gone.
Cook told Action 9, “I have no words right now. I just… I’ve dealt with so much loss this past year with family and now this is just unfathomable.”
Action 9 stopped by the Winter Park office of Rent Prosper, the new management company for the garages at the Coral Gardens Condominiums, to try to get answers.
A managing partner for the company later emailed a response. It said, Rent Prosper took over in 2020 and was told all the units were vacant or abandoned and that no leases or use agreements of any kind were provided to them. Rent Prosper claims it didn’t clear out the units until more than a year later and only did so after posting notices on the garages.
But Jennifer Cook said she was never contacted by anyone.
“Something is definitely not right. Someone didn’t do proper bookkeeping or accounting or I don’t know what,” she added.
TIS Management in south Florida didn’t answer our questions about why she was never notified of the management change or why it was still collecting her rent.
In an email to Cook, the company claimed it wasn’t notified the unit had been sold and they couldn’t reach the old owner.
Under Florida law, personal belongings may only be withheld from a renter for non-payment after the payment is more than five days late.
But in this case, since Cook was still paying rent, her belongings should not have been removed. Now, she feels stuck in the middle of finger pointing and wondering if she’ll ever seen her belongings again.
Cook said, “I have cried so much this past week and I don’t want to cry on camera.”
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