Tampa's Silver Oak Apartments threatens tenants with eviction after they exposed infrastructure problems

The surprise inspection and threat of eviction come just days after tenants highlighted glaring infrastructure problems at the complex.

click to enlarge The sign above the leasing office at Silver Oaks Apartments in East Tampa. - Justin Garcia
Justin Garcia
The sign above the leasing office at Silver Oaks Apartments in East Tampa.
Management at East Tampa's Silver Oaks Apartments is now threatening tenants with eviction after they complained to the media about black mold, collapsing ceilings, regular flooding due to plumbing problems, rodent issues and more.

On April 15, Brittani James, Community Manager at Silver Oaks, sent out a letter announcing a last minute inspection of all the units on the property between Tuesday to Thursday of this week from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. 

The memo says fingerprints should not be on walls and doors, that there may not be any dirty dishes in the sink, and that all of the surfaces in the units—which often house several children—should be completely free of dust and grease.
"Please take note that your housekeeping efforts must be at an acceptable safe and sanitary condition or termination of tenancy will be issued," the letter from James read. The letter did not clarify how management would decide what is acceptable and safe, and no one from Silver Oaks would speak to Creative Loafing Tampa Bay when contacted to discuss the letter.

The surprise comes just a few days after tenants raised the alarm to the local media about the unsafe conditions they are living in at the complex. As soon as TV crews arrived, private security for the apartment complex began running them off. Now, the security team has escalated to harassing tenants and telling them they're loitering at the place they rent at.

Guards are posted at the gates constantly, and have turned away relief volunteers bringing cleaning supplies to the tenants to help them fight the mold issues. Tenants there told CL there has been security at the complex before, but never like this.
Silver Oaks is an affordable housing complex, and a last minute notice for inspection such as the one sent by property management goes against the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's own rules for inspecting public housing.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic HUD is temporarily giving properties 28 days notice (typically 14 days) before an inspector completes an inspection," HUD's site reads.

CL reached out to James, who said she couldn't answer any questions, and pointed us to a corporate representative who has not responded to several requests for comment.  Hoping to shed light on the legality of the letter, CL also asked the leasing office if it would provided a copy of the lease at the complex, which led the person on the other end of the line to hang up.

Cambridge Property Management runs Silver Oaks Apartments, which was constructed by Southport Development Services. Both companies have been exposed by politicians and the media for ill-maintained properties across Florida, several of which had similar ailments as Silver Oaks.

Senator Marco Rubio's office has kept an eye on the company ever since it found that the company participated in "mismanagement" of its properties.

Since 2019, he's twice filed a bill to reform the federal inspection process for privately-owned affordable housing complexes such as Silver Oaks, but the legislation has failed to  become law.

In response to these discoveries, in September of 2021, DeSantis called for Florida to cut off funding to the company, saying, “Our patience has run out for this developer and their management company’s failed stewardship of safe, decent and affordable housing for Floridians.”
Page one of a letter from Silver Oaks Apartments details some of the inspection criteria and threatens tenants with eviction.

About The Author

Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia has written for The Nation, Investigative Reporters & Editors Journal, the USA Today Network and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 

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