FT. PIERCE, Fla. - UPDATE:
It's been three long days and nights without power, and now the food in Todi Marinack's refrigerator is beginning to smell.
The couple spend the little money they have on fast food, also buying a few minutes in the air conditioning at the restaurants.
The power in their Ft. Pierce apartment is still out, after FPUA shut off the electricity for nonpayment.
"It's been hot," says Marinack. "There's no hot water, of course so it's either no shower or cold shower."
Florida Legal Aid is now helping the Marinacks build a case against their landlord.
The building was managed by Micahel Hooker and is owned by Hooker's father.
The $600 a month rent is supposed to include all utilities, but Hooker says he couldn't afford to pay the bill after months of tenants not paying their rent.
Hooker told NewsChannel 5 Monday that he was walking away from the building and its problems.
Florida Legal Aid attorney Melanie Poole says it's not that easy.
"He tries to make excuses claiming that people weren't paying rent but even if people aren't paying rent you aren't allowed to do those things," says Poole.
"You are required to continue to provide those services no matter what and if you want to evict people, there are proper means of doing that through the legal system."
Poole is helping the Marinacks find a new place to live.
She's also filing an injunction in court Friday to try to get the power turned on again.
Poole says the building has been in foreclosure for a long time, information that the landlords never disclosed to their tenants.
The owner signed a legal document back in September saying the building was empty.
That's the same month the Marinacks moved in.
Poole says this is a lesson for all renters. Check with the Clerk of Courts in your county before you rent a place to see if it's in foreclosure.
Todi Marinack paid her April rent on Friday.
Her studio apartment on South Hutchinson Island in Ft. Pierce costs $600, including utilities.
The power went out Monday morning and Marinack tried calling her landlord.
When she couldn't get in touch with him, she talked to her neighbors in the small complex of 7 units.
"He had contacted a couple people in here, I don't know which ones at first," says Marinack. "But he said that he was going to have the electricity turned off."
Ft. Pierce Utilities shut off the power after several months of late payments or no payments at all.
Now the few residents left in the complex are in the dark.
According to Florida statute, what the landlord did is illegal. It's written right in the state's Tenant Handbook.
"This means the landlord cannot cause by any means, the termination of your utility services including electricity, gas and water, even if the services are in his name or payment of these services are made by him," reads the handbook.
But the situation gets more complicated.
The landlord is, or was until Monday, Michael Hooker.
He manages the property for his father.
Hooker said he's cutting his losses.
He says months of tenants not paying rent left him broke and though he'd like to pay the power bill, he doesn't have the $1,800 needed to turn the electricity back on.
Hooker told us the building is in foreclosure and should belong to the bank in a couple of weeks.
Tenants at the complex wonder how long it will take to get the power restored.
"It's either this or I live in my car," says Marinack. "I don't know what to do."
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