Once a person begins living in a house, apartment, mobile home, or condominium, he or she is considered a tenant under FL state law. A tenant is entitled to the right of private, peaceful possession of the dwelling. The landlord may only enter the dwelling in order to inspect the premises or to make necessary or agreed repairs, but only if he or she gives the tenant reasonable notice. If an emergency arises, the requirement for notice can be lifted. If your landlord is not making repairs, contact our attorneys to discuss your rights. If the landlord claims the tenant violated the rental agreement, then the landlord must inform the tenant in writing of the violation and give the tenant time to fix the problem. The landlord must go to the court to evict the tenant; a landlord cannot simply evict a tenant on his or her own accord.
According to Florida Statute 83.51, a landlord must at all times comply with the requirements of applicable building, housing, and health codes; or where there is no applicable building, housing, or health codes, maintain the roofs, windows, screens, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, foundations, and all other structural components in good repair and plumbing in reasonable working condition. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, in addition to the requirements of subsection (1), the landlord of a dwelling unit other than a single-family home or duplex, shall at all times during the tenancy, make reasonable provisions for:
- The extermination of rats, mice, roaches, ants, wood-destroying organisms, and bedbugs. When vacation of the premises is required for such extermination, the landlord shall not be liable for damages but shall abate the rent. The tenant shall be required to temporarily vacate for a period of time not to exceed 4 days, on 7 days’ written notice, if necessary, for extermination pursuant to this subparagraph.
- Locks and keys.
- The clean and safe condition of common areas.
- Garbage removal and outside receptacles therefor.
- Functioning facilities for heat during winter, running water, and hot water.
In certain instances of a landlord’s neglect of the premises or a landlord is not making repairs, a tenant has the right to withhold rent. We most often see these instances involving mold, failing to repair appliances, including, but not limited to refrigerators, washers and dryers, etc., holes in walls or broken windows and similar situations. Before rent is withheld, the tenant must give the landlord 7 days after written notice of the problem so the landlord can fix it. After withholding rent, the tenant should seek court permission to use part of the money to fix what the landlord should have fixed. We strongly recommend you consult with an attorney prior to withholding payment because this is a highly technical situation. If the tenant does not seek the court’s assistance, he or she may be evicted for nonpayment.
A landlord may not seek to evict a tenant in retaliation for a tenant’s legitimate complaints to the landlord for a landlord not making repairs or housing authorities. A landlord cannot turn off a tenant’s utilities. The landlord can never remove the tenant’s property or lock the tenant out of the property. Only a sheriff can do so with a court order. If you believe your landlord has been neglecting his or her duties or is your landlord is not making repairs, contact the experienced landlord/tenant lawyers of Hackworth Law for a free consultation. It is also important to note, you may be able to seek attorney’s fees under certain situations involving landlord/tenant situations. We look forward to working with you.