Outraged Vendors Scramble Ahead of Flea Market Closure

Santa Ortiz owns a nail salon that’s been operating at Flea Market USA for more than a decade. But, now Ortiz has to find a new home for her business. She and dozens of other vendors are being asked to leave after it was announced that Flea Market USA will shut down.

The flea market, located on Northwest 79th Street and 30th Avenue, has been a staple in Miami since the 1980s. Vendors sell everything from clothing to haircuts inside.

When vendors returned from the New Year’s holiday weekend, they were given a letter stating they must vacate the property by March 8th because the flea market had been sold.

“They’re closing down the doors in two months,” Ortiz said in frustration.

“We just don’t have nowhere to go, we don’t have a deposit for the next business,” said barber shop owner Rocky Alvarez. “We have children to feed. We have our families.”

The letter sent to vendors states any “personal property which is not removed” by March 8 “shall be deemed abandoned and subject to disposal...”

It also states “any vendors who have paid advance license fees or who have made security deposits….will, upon vacating the premises, receive a refund…”

However, some tenants said they’ve been told there’s no record of their deposit.

The property manager told NBC 6 Responds that anyone who has a deposit on file, is current on their rent and leaves their units in good condition will get their money back.

We spoke with attorney Henry Marines who told us the law in these cases favors the vendor.

“Even if it’s sold from one owner to another, they keep what’s called a rent roll,” Marines explained. “The rent rolls give you the deposits, the dates those deposits were made, and who they belong to and the quantity so they’re obligated to keep those records.”

He added that if the owner cannot find those records, “the onus is on the landlord so therefore the tenant must be made whole and their deposit must be returned.”

Marines read a contract recently signed by one of the tenants that states they will get their deposit 60 days after vacating the place, but he says it’s important to be up to date with your rent payments.

“They should be in good standing in order to receive those funds back,” he said.

Despite that, vendors don’t think it’s fair to have to pay booth rent.

Marines said they may not have to pay their February rent if they paid for their last month’s rent when they paid their deposit.

Marines explained the contract he examined only requires the property owner to give tenants five days’ notice but he gave them 60.

As for what will happen to the place, the owner is a New York businessman who referred us to the local property manager for comment. That manager told NBC 6 Responds the place is indeed under contract but didn’t disclose the name of the new buyer or the future plans for the building.

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