• Some tenants displaced by Jacksonville apartment fire don't plan to pay rent

    By: Jenna Bourne , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - More than 200 people displaced by a fire at Jacksonville Townhouse Apartments have no idea whether they’re going to be expected to pay their rent on Monday.

    Several of them told Action News Jax they don’t plan to pay.

    “My rent is due on the first and I’m not intending to pay it,” Ernest Hull said. “I have no information about whether I’ll be able to get my belongings out of the apartment, and, of course, I don’t have use of the apartment.”

    A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said 131 households displaced by the Jacksonville Townhouse Apartments fire are staying at an extended stay hotel; another 92 are staying with friends and family.

    “The bottom line is; You don’t have to pay rent to a place where you can’t live,” Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson said.

    But Carson said the displaced tenants can’t just stop paying rent; they have to send Cambridge Management a notice that they don’t intend to pay.

    The displaced residents have to list on that notice the reason they are not paying rent, and then mail it to the management company.

    Nothing needs to be filed in court.

    You can download a blank notice written by the Florida Bar by clicking here

    On Wednesday, Action News Jax uncovered that Cambridge Management failed another fire inspection at another one of its Jacksonville HUD-subsidized apartment complexes this year.

    In July, a Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department fire inspector found that Hilltop Village Apartments’ fire alarm system was not being maintained.

    On Thursday, JFRD confirmed that there is no documentation that the fire inspector ever followed up to see if the fire alarm was fixed.

    Action News Jax asked if JFRD plans to follow up now and spokesman Tom Francis said a 30-day follow-up inspection is a goal, not a requirement.

    Cambridge Management spokesperson Katelynn DeSart said the fire alarm issue was resolved, but has not responded to Action News Jax’s three requests for information on how and when it was fixed.

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