The tree was finally removed from the property but the cat continues to decompose on the roof.
Duarte-Viera said he was unfamiliar with this situation, but doubted the cat was electrocuted. Nonetheless, he said he will take action against his employees who manage his properties if they have been negligent.
Unfortunately, this is not a unique situation, he said. If you drive through Little Havana, youll see that there are millions of properties in worse conditions than mine.
Miami-Dade County minimum housing standards require property owners to maintain buildings in safe and sanitary conditions. But problems at many buildings in densely populated neighborhoods like Little Havana often go unreported.
In the past year, El Nuevo Herald has reported on renters who pay between $600 and $800 per month to live in apartments with holes in the ceilings, mold on the walls and flooding sewage. Many say they accept these conditions because its all they can afford and they need to live close to public transportation or be able to walk to downtown Miami.
Mercados 21-year-old son, for example, supports the family with his job as a server at P.F. Changs Chinese Bistro in Brickell. He walks nine blocks to work each day.
Some renters who are undocumented immigrants and are not familiar with the language or their rights, say they feel exploited. Others, who were born in this country but live in poverty, say its impossible to find a decent place to live without decent wages.
Fuller was born in Florida, speaks English and has attorneys in his family. He works for a company that ships flowers while his wife cleans houses. When they decided to leave their condominium, the process of finding an apartment in the neighborhood was nerve-wracking.
When he found the $725-per-month, one-bedroom unit in the building owned by Duarte-Viera, Fuller and his wife moved in the same day without asking about the owner.
This week, after being told of the cockroach problem, Duarte-Viera said that he would refund Fuller all his money. He also explained that its not easy keeping the buildings free of roaches.
The big issue is that a lot of people dont live in the most hygienic scenarios, he said.
He added that he could make major improvements to all his buildings in Little Havana, but that hed have to pass on the cost of those investments to the renters an additional $100 to $200 per month, he estimated.
If I start pumping money into those units, Im going to screw a bunch of tenants who cant afford more, he said.