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Collapsed Fort Myers Apartment Stairwell Brings Up Safety Concerns

A stairwell at the Sunrise Towers Apartment Complex completely collapsed over the weekend.

No one’s really sure how it happened, but city code officials decided two other stairwells in the complex were also dangerous and blocked them off.

The staircase collapsed Friday, but it was no surprise to many of the people living in that complex. Several of them had filed complaints about the conditions of the complex before. In fact, 13 cases have been filed and are still open.

So we talked to a lawyer to learn more about Florida’s landlord and tenant laws.

“It’s designed to, as long as everybody follows the rules of the statute, be as equally applicable to both parties,” Kara Jursinski Murphy with KFJ Law Office said.

In Florida, a landlord has to provide tenants with a list of things, including extermination services, locks and keys, and clean and safe condition of common areas.

If your landlord doesn’t do these things, you have an out.

“You have to give them notification, what the issue is, and you have to provide it in writing to them and give them at least seven days notice to take action to cure,” Murphy said.

The process for withholding rent is similar. You have to let the landlord know in writing and explicitly state that you plan to withhold rent. If the landlord fails to make changes after seven days, you can withhold rent until it’s fixed.

“They need to be aware of what the issue is, you can’t just simply withhold rent and assume that they knew or say ‘well my neighbor complained about it, so I know they knew.’ There’s specific criteria that you have to let everybody know,” Murphy said.

Reporting by Jalyn Henderson