In less than a week, a Florida resident battling cancer won't be able to flush the toilet, take a shower or rely on her faucets for water to swallow something like, say, medication. Nor will her neighbors.
Tenants at a Hallandale Beach apartment complex received a notice that their water will be shut off come Monday because their landlord allegedly disappeared without paying 21 months worth of water and sewer bills. Those unpaid bills now exceed $14,000, according to CBS Miami. One tenant is Terri Mammarelli, who is enduring stage three cervical cancer, NBC Miami reports.
Kenny Johnson, another resident, told NBC Miami that the rent he and the other tenants pay is supposed to include utilities. "We don't receive any water bills," Johnson said. "Water, waste, electric and gas, if you have it, that's all included and bundled into the rent."
According to Florida law, even if tenants do not pay their rent, a landlord is not allowed to have the utilities terminated or do anything else to force out tenants from their rentals. A landlord must file a lawsuit to have the residents evicted.
The situation is less clear when the landlord takes off. City spokesman Peter Dobbens told NBC Miami that the phone number for the property manager of the apartment complex has been disconnected. Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper claims the city's hands are tied, according to CBS Miami.
This won't be the first time tenants end up suffering because of their landlord's failure to pay the bills on time. Earlier this year, the Frederick News Post reported that a Maryland man was surprised to find his shower without running water, after his landlord didn't make payments for utility services.
And last year in April, residents in Ft. Pierce, Fla., had to deal with no air conditioning and food rotting in their refrigerator when their landlord didn't pay the electricity bills, according to WPTV.