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Arlington family's sewer water-flooded apartment condemned

Spokesperson for company that owns Royal Estates say problem was inherited

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An Arlington man and his family said they were living in a nightmare because sewer water has been coming up through the bathtub and toilets, flooding their apartment. 

The family feels helpless and the father, who is disabled, said the condition of the unit at Royal Estates apartment complex has made everything more difficult, and forced them to leave their home.

On Thursday, code enforcement condemned the apartment, saying there is so much water that it's no longer livable. 

A representative of the company that owns Royal Estates said they inherited the problem.

From the outside, Building L inside the Royal Estates apartment complex looks normal. But once inside apartment 1701, sewer water can be seen covering the floors and filling the bathtub, and there's mold in areas where some of the water receded.

Michael Sears, who lived in the apartment with his family, said they're upset. 

"It's just not something that a person or family should have to go through if I'm paying my rent and doing what I'm supposed to do," Sears told News4Jax on Wednesday. 

Management confirmed it's an ongoing plumbing issue that it hasn't been able to fully fix.

Sears said the latest problem began in early July and got worst -- taking a toll because he relies on a breathing machine.

"For the past week, I haven't been able to get on my machine due to the floods that destroyed my pipes and tubes and stuff," he said.

And have been other impacts on Sears and his family. Sears said only one bathroom was useable, but they had to be careful flushing the toilet. He said sleeping was also an issue because sewer water had flooded most of the bedrooms. 

"We sleep in shifts. We got one room we can sleep in, but it's my daughter's room," the father said.

The property is owned by Fort Francis LLC, which is based out of Miami. A company spokesperson said the property was purchased four years ago, but the company didn't realize there were plumbing issues until a year after the purchase. 

According to the spokesperson, different plumbing companies have been hired to fix the plumbing in Sears' building, but it continues to be an issue. 

But there is a silver lining for Sears and his family. 

"Fortunately, I did find a place to stay," he said. "But I'm going to be in a house with no furniture."

That's because the majority of their furniture has been destroyed by sewer water and mold, Sears said.

Although they have found a place to stay, the family is in need of many basic necessities that have been destroyed. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family.


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