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.
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.
"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.”