‘It’s just unlivable’: Family claims rental home riddled with code violations

TITUSVILLE, Fla. — A Titusville woman claims a landlord threatened eviction after she contacted code enforcement and inspectors found serious violations at the rental home.

Saturnina Rivera captured a video of her husband removing a live rat from one of the bedrooms. She wondered how she could live in this rental home one more day.

“It was just overall deplorable conditions, just really unlivable,” Rivera said.

Rivera and her family  were moving from New Jersey to Titusville, and found the single family home online offered by Florida Beach Coast, a property management company.

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Rivera paid $5,000 upfront in fees and deposits based on the website pictures showing a clean, comfortable home.

She says that’s not what they found when they moved in. “The entire house was dirty. Windows were broken, nailed shut, there were no appliances when we arrived. There was no air conditioning.”

According to Rivera, despite contacting Florida Beach Coast nothing was fixed. So she asked Titusville city code enforcement for a safety inspection. The city found five code violations including windows nailed shut, electrical repairs not done and active roof leaks.

Rivera said the property manager initially responded. “They had some workers come out to the property, they did a day or two of work and then they sort of just left.”

She claims some repairs were ignored, so she followed Florida’s Landlord/Tenant Law and notified Florida Beach she would place rent payments in escrow until repairs were completed.

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That’s when she says the company threatened to kick her out. “They notified us if we did not pay the rent they would serve us with an eviction notice.”

The state’s Landlord/Tenant Law protects renters from retaliation if it can be proven that a landlord is acting out of revenge only.

Action 9 has investigated Florida Beach Coast before. The company is rated F at the Better Business Bureau. At least 40 complaints have been made in just a year and many involve leases.

A Deltona woman told Action 9 she paid $4,000 for a rental home that was already occupied by someone else and the company kept her money.

Florida Beach Coast lists a post office in Gotha as its business address. Todd Ulrich contacted the company several times about Rivera’s complaint but has not received a response.

“I don’t think it’s right. It’s been an ordeal, something that I never thought we would experience,” Rivera said.

Document any potential violations of Florida’s Landlord/Tenant Law and notify the landlord by certified mail.

Generally, it’s up to the tenant to enforce his/her rights through small claims court or by acquiring an attorney.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.