MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) – Miami Beach officials say the floor collapse at that 46 year old apartment building follows years of violations and more than $3-million dollars in liens against the owners.

It’s left the residents demanding answers about what happened to their long-time complaints.

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It didn’t take long for John Goodman to get most of his valuables out of the old building off 82 Street and Byron Avenue.

“I just came to get all my things to make sure it was secure,” Goodman explained.

His apartment building was shut down after the main floor in several units collapsed.

The electricity was shut off and residents ordered out for their safety.

By Tuesday afternoon, it looked as if most of the residents were gone, relocated to other facilities. But some of the remaining residents are bitter, insisting they’ve been complaining for a while about maintenance problems here.

Goodman added, “We have infestations of bugs…just typical maintenance that should be done monthly.”

CBS4 Chief Consumer Investigator Al Sunshine asked him, what happened to all their complaints?

“What’s been happening to those complaints? I don’t know. I wish somebody would check into it for me and let me know”, Goodman said.

Goodman wanted answers, so CBS 4 went to work for him.

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Sunshine went to Miami Beach’s building department to ask what happened to all the tenants’ complaints?

I found pages and pages of code violations there including pictures of cracking concrete and corroded pipes.

City Records show the building’s been hit with more than $3 million dollars in liens by the City of Miami Beach for not meeting repair deadlines.

So what can residents do about problems in their rental units?

Turns out they can go to court and after filing required legal papers,  withhold paying the landlord and instead pay into a separate court-supervised escrow account.

“Go to court, to the downtown courthouse, they have a section for landlord tenant. He’s going to pay a processing fee, and let them know he is going to withhold rent,” Alexandra Castro-Nunez of Miami-Dade’s Office of Business Regulation said. “The landlord will be notified by a letter of a hearing and then a judge will determine the outcome.”

Sunshine reported that tenant-landlord complaints are way up the past few years around South Florida as the economy  worsened and landlords are forced to cut back on maintenance.

File building and safety complaints with your local building departments.

Contact your local or state consumer affairs office for more help.

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