Breaking News
More () »

Elderly couple says broken elevator repairs will take 20 weeks, stranding them on third floor

Evelyn and Hans Mense are in their 80s and 90s, respectively. With a broken elevator, this means hiking up and down three flights of stairs for any out-of-home task.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — For physically able people, a broken elevator is an inconvenience. For an elderly couple with disabilities, it's a quarantine. 

The Menses contacted 10 Tampa Bay earlier this week sharing the problems their Clearwater condo building's broken elevator is causing.

"I have oxygen and I'm handicapped," 86-year-old Evelyn Mense explained. "And I have a walker, which I can't get down the stairs. So I'm really relegated to this floor."

The building is located in the Villas at Countryside, off of Enterprise Road in Clearwater. 

Evelyn Mense said she's had to cancel doctor and dental appointments. Now, getting groceries is a task. 

The elevator has been broken for two weeks, Evelyn Mense claims. When she asked her property management company and condo association when the repairs can be expected, their response was bleak.

"It takes 20 weeks. Period," Evelyn Mense said the condo association told her.

Evelyn Mense said she was told to use services like Instacart or Uber Eats to get necessary grocery items. She's done that, but it's an added expense.  

"And the only way we get something, I go to the grocery store and come back," Hans Mense said. 

Hans Mense is 94. Climbing up and down three flights of stairs is no small task for him. 

"I have to—if I don't want it or not. I have to do it. Because there's nobody here would help us," Hans Mense said with a sigh. 

The broken elevator impacts roughly 20 units in the building. The notice on the first-floor elevator doors says service will be returned as soon as possible. 

10 Tampa Bay's Malique Rankin reached out to Frankly Coastal Property Management. The person who answered identified herself as Laura Cullen. She quickly said, "no comment," and hung up the line when Rankin identified herself as a reporter. 

The property management company has not responded to additional calls and emails regarding this matter at the time of this publication. The condo association president has not returned calls for comment at the time of this publication. 

An on-site maintenance worker told Rankin no one was on-property to talk to and drove away without further explanation. 

"We gotta have that elevator," Hans Mense pleaded. "It's a must. That's the only way you can keep a civil life for what we have now. Now, we're not going to give up. We sure hope somebody will help us."

The Department of Business and Profession Regulation conducts elevator inspections. This elevator failed an inspection on May 10. DBPR said it failed for the following violations:

  • H236 – regarding Hydraulic cylinders;
  • H302 – regarding Car Top Lighting and Outlet; and
  • H201 – regarding Access to Machine Spaces.

"The elevator owner is responsible under Florida law for ensuring required inspections are completed and any cited violations are corrected," Marnie Villanueva, the deputy director for DBPR communications said. 

According to DBPR, the elevator owner has 90 days from the date on the inspection report to correct violations cited during an inspection. However, DBPR does not have the jurisdiction to require an elevator owner to fix an inoperable elevator. 

For violations of ADA accommodations, the resident can file a complaint with their local code enforcement office or with the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.

Malique Rankin is a general assignment reporter with 10 Tampa Bay. You can email her story ideas at mrankin@10tampabay.com and follow her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out