Tenants face eviction after rent stolen from drop box

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Magnolia Point apartments is a gated community near Beach Boulevard. Most of the tenants seem pleasant, but several are very angry.

"I am begging them to let me stay here because this is so unexpected," said Breona Gilliam, "We have no where to go."

They are angry because a few days ago, they came home to an eviction notice on their doors, even though their rent is paid for the month.

"Someone broke into our rent box and basically took our home away," said Gilliam.

Last October, someone did break into the apartment's drop box for rent checks.

"Eighteen people's checks or money orders were stolen," said Terri Jackson. Jackson is the property manager and the one leading the evictions.

Gilliam and her fiancee Corey Sampson call the apartment's position unfair.

"We have always paid our rent on time," said Sampson, "This happened last October."

Jimmie Belton lives in the same community and he too is facing an eviction. Belton is also among the tenants whose rent deposits were stolen.

"I don't think it is right," said Belton, "They're trying to make the residents pay twice."

Belton said he contacted his money order company and they sent him a copy of his money order. It was cashed in Las Vegas.

"If you're going to have people paying the rent in a drop box," said Belton, "They should have it secured."

The management's position is very simple: Yes the deposits were stolen, but the community was never paid.

The property manager said this is an issue between the tenant and the money order companies, and after seven months, it is time for the tenants to pay up.

"We had 18 tenants whose money orders were stolen,' said Terri Jackson, "15 have been resolved, 3 are still outstanding."

Jackson said they have told the tenants all they have to do is file a claim with their money order company and bring a proof of that claim to the management office. She said they will work out a resolution.

Jackson said the missing rent is still the tenant's responsibility, but some tenants want to know why and why now?

"They never said anything about it to us," said Corey Sampson, "so we lived on like everything was okay."

It is not. A check of court records show a default judgement was entered against Gilliam. She is now consulting an attorney to stop the eviction.

Jackson said if the tenants would come and talk to the management and work out a resolution, there will be no evictions.

Why is it still the tenants responsibility? According to Jackson there's a clause in their lease agreement that says any monies received will be applied to an outstanding balance until it is paid in full.


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