Some tenants displaced by a roof collapse at a North Miami apartment complex are now suing the building's management, their lawyers say.
Nearly 200 residents were evacuated from the Gold King Apartments at 13285 Northeast 6th Avenue after heavy rains caused the partial roof collapse last December. Now 11 of those tenants are taking legal action.
In the complaint, those tenants claim they were forced to find alternate housing without help from the landlord and that when they returned to the building in mid-January the apartments were filthy and dangerous.
"This building is not safe," said one tenant named Milli.
The complaint alleges the landlord used intimidation to get some residents to waive their right to compensation. One tenant even alleges she signed papers agreeing not to hold the building owner liable for the roof failure in exchange for a small sum.
Attorneys also said the building owner threatened some of those involved in the lawsuit with eviction if they took legal action.
The tenants who are suing can hope to recover three times the costs of damages they can prove, according to attorney Eric Hernandez.
According to authorities, crews were working on the building's roof, but hadn't finished before heavy rain moved into the area. The water damage spread through the building, leaving dropped ceilings and water in the walls.
"The landlord in this project failed to maintain the roof and because of that tenants were displaced for three weeks," attorney Jeffrey Hearne said.
The Red Cross was unable to accommodate residents at hotels, so they were transported to a shelter in Miami Lakes.
When they got back, conditions were allegedly unsanitary.
"Water, smell, rats," resident Emma Pierre said.
Several attempts to reach the building's owners, Allen and Shlomo Chelminsky, were unsuccessful, but one building employee agreed to comment.
"Some people they never be satisfied with anything," said Louis Mary, a tenant who work for the building's owner. "The owner is doing his best to see everything go back to better than what it used to be."
In the meantime, some residents are packing their bags.
"I don't want to stay and that's it," said a resident named Sergio.