Tenants Union: Rental conditions worsening during coronavirus pandemic

alexis apartment.jpg
Alexis Brown rents a unit in West Palm Beach which has been overflowing for sewage for days (WPEC).

For two weeks, a family in West Palm Beach has been dealing with a disgusting problem: sewage is overflowing out of their shower, onto their bathroom floor and into their bedroom.

"That would make anybody depressed and frustrated," Alexis Brown told CBS12 News, showing the I-Team around her apartment on Ponce De Leon Avenue.

She says the problem has gotten so unbearable, her 8-year-old special needs son Camar has had to sleep on a mattress outside.

"I can't even go to sleep at night," Camar said.

Alexis said she has been reaching out to her landlord, Miami-based Goldfinger Investment, but the problem persists.

While she filed a complaint with the state, the Palm Beach County Tenants Union started reaching out to local code enforcement officers to see what could be done.

"It's disgusting," said Latasha Arnold, co-chair of the Palm Beach County Tenants Union.

But she added that it's not uncommon: the union says it has been receiving a flood of complaints from local renters saying their living conditions are worsening, and landlords are becoming less responsive as the pandemic continues.

"It's up to the tenant to fight and make a big stink for something to get done," Arnold said.

A statewide moratorium on evictions is set to expire this week. While many renters are out of work and unable to pay rent, Arnold said landlords may be putting off repairs.

"They're saying you're not paying rent, so you'll have to move out anyway and I'll fix it then," Arnold said.

Goldfinger Investment got in touch with the I-Team after CBS12 News interviewed Brown. They claim they already sent two plumbers to her unit, and are promising to send a third to make sure the problem is fixed. Goldfinger is also planning on cleaning the pipes and doing a deep clean of the unit. Brown hopes it happens fast.

"I don't want to keep living like this," she said. "I have nowhere else to go at this point."