Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Apartment complex won't let enlistee out of his lease

ST. PETERSBURG — Mike Agosta enlisted in the Army and learned he would ship out 19 days later. He expected his apartment complex would let him go without penalty, considering he was ending the lease to serve his country.

He was wrong.

Florida law allows military personnel to break their leases if they show documentation and give 30 days' notice. His apartment complex, Camden Lakes, said it wouldn't accept his request to end the lease.

"I was really dumbfounded," Agosta said from his father's home in South Florida, where he's visiting before shipping out to Fort Jackson, S.C., on Tuesday.

The company that owns the complex at 11150 Fourth St. N said it needed his official orders, which he says he won't receive until the first day of boot camp. Agosta said he showed his signed Army contract, but the company wouldn't accept it.

It's unclear what penalties Agosta might face for breaking his lease. Ed Malone, regional vice president for Camden, wouldn't discuss Agosta's case, but he said the company's leases follow state and federal laws dealing with military enlistees.

He said the company has no discretion in allowing some people out of their leases because that would be unfair to other tenants.

Not so, says a Palm Harbor lawyer who took up Agosta's case pro bono.

Upset by Agosta's story, Justin Zinzow filed a lawsuit for him Tuesday. He said the whole agreement should be thrown out because the lease violates a Florida law allowing military enlistees special privileges. He said fair housing laws — which prohibit race, sex and other types of discrimination — don't bar Camden from using its discretion.

Agosta could give notice later and accept about a month's extra rent, but he said he felt like the complex was insulting him by doubting that he was enlisting. He also doesn't want other recruits to face the same hassles.

"Good for him. He's truly a patriotic American," Zinzow said.

Agosta grew up in South Florida but moved to the Tampa area with a DJ business so he could travel the state more easily. He worked for Verizon as a cable splicer for a few years. Recently unemployed, he decided to join the Army.

Sgt. 1st Class James Butler, an Army recruiter, said Agosta's experience was unusual.

"Normally, most apartment complexes or homes are pretty lenient on it," Butler said. "This is the first time in seven years since I've been recruiting that I've had an issue."

Apartment complex won't let enlistee out of his lease 06/12/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 16, 2008 11:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Report slams Pinellas construction licensing agency

    Local Government

    LARGO –– The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board mismanaged its finances, lacked accountability and violated its own rules, according to a scathing report released Wednesday by the county's inspector general.

    Rodney Fischer, the executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, resigned in January.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. Tampa driver dies after swerving off Interstate 4 into canal


    PLANT CITY — A Tampa driver swerved off Interstate 4 Wednesday morning, plunging into a canal in a fatal crash, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.

  3. Editorial: Scott should keep demanding better for seniors in nursing homes


    The horrific story of elderly Floridians dying from the heat in a Broward County nursing home after surviving Hurricane Irma grows more outrageous. Even as a ninth death has been reported, the nursing home blames the state and has filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Rick Scott's move to prevent it from accepting new …

    Even as a ninth death has been reported, the nursing home blames the state and has filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Rick Scott’s move to prevent it from accepting new patients or Medicaid payments.
  4. DCF announces $133 million in federal aid for low-income families who lost food during Irma


    An additional $133 million is being distributed to Florida low-income families to help replace food destroyed by Hurricane Irma, the Florida Department of Children and Families announced today.

    The United States Department of Agriculture has made $133 million available to Florida low-income families to help them replace food damaged during Hurricane Irma
  5. A meatless burger that tastes like meat? Ciccio Restaurants will serve the Impossible Burger.

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The most red-hot hamburger in the nation right now contains no meat.

    Luis Flores, executive chef at Ciccio Restaurant Group, prepares an Impossible Burger at Epicurean Hotel's Food Theatre. Impossible Burger is a plant-based burger that will launch on Sept. 27, 2017 in all the Ciccio Restaurant Group locations, except for Fresh Kitchen. "This burger caters to the carnivorous, not just the vegetarians" said Jeff Gigante, co-founder at Ciccio Restaurant Group. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times