Jacksonville woman who reported rent hike told she’ll have to move

Property owner says employees didn’t have the authority to rescind lease offer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville woman who came to News4JAX with her story about her rent going up hundreds of dollars was told her new lease offer will be rescinded.

The owner of the company — and the father of the employee who told her that — later told News4JAX that his son didn’t have the authority to rescind the lease renewal offer.

Kelsey Christ says she and her significant other moved into an apartment at Luxor Club on the Southside in December 2019 and hoped to stay there for a few years until they could buy a house.

Now, she said, neither of those things are happening.

“We’re in the process of wanting to buy, but there’s just not a house available,” Christ said.

All day Thursday, she believed her apartment wouldn’t be available to her either. She said she was told by management that her lease offer would be rescinded.

Abe Fort confirmed this to News4JAX. He works for Fort Family Investments, which is owned by Don Fort, who also owns Luxor Club.

But Thursday evening, Don Fort told News4JAX, his son didn’t have the authority to make that call — and he’s looking to work something out with the couple and even help them find a new place.

But Christ said she’s suspicious.

Earlier this week, Christ told News4JAX that her rent at Luxor Club has gone up hundreds of dollars since she first moved in, going from a base rent of $1,434 in 2020 to an initial offer to renew her lease this year at a base rent of $2,034 — an increase of about 42%. That doesn’t include additional fees such as trash, pet or storage.

“It seems like a lot of other families in the community that are kind of going through the same thing right now,” Christ said. “It’s very frustrating.”

The director of real estate for Fort Family Investments, which owns Luxor Club, declined to do an interview Thursday but told News4JAX that they’d offered Christ a $100 decrease in base rent in an effort to work with her.

“I never got that,” Christ said. “This would be the only thing that, to me, would say, hey, this is a legally binding agreement. I was never told that myself. They told my significant other that, but it was on a sticky note.”

The company said she never asked for it in writing. But she said she still wouldn’t be able to afford the rent even with a hundred dollar discount.

“I would have to get another job just to be able to come up with that even if they took $100 off,” Christ said.

Christ told News4JAX that she was worried the threat of not renewing her lease was retaliation for speaking out against the property management company. Abe Fort said it wasn’t retaliation for her going public with her story and that the company was acting within its rights.

“It’s really going to depend on on the specifics of the of the lease agreement,” explained attorney David Wainer.

Wainer deals with landlord-tenant disputes. He declined to get into the specifics of this case, but said that in general, a case like this can go either way depending on the language in the lease.

He said while the First Amendment keeps the government from punishing you for speaking your mind, it doesn’t prevent your boss or landlord from taking action.

Fort Family investments says inflation is driving up costs and that rent prices vary daily with the market, like airfare. It says operating costs are up across the board from contract work to landscaping to maintenance.

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I-TEAM and general assignment reporter