A “Tenant” is defined as a person entitled to occupy a property under a rental agreement. (Fla. Stat. § 83.43).
A “Landlord” is defined as the owner or lessor of a dwelling unit. (Fla. Stat. § 83.43). The landlord can be a property management company acting on behalf of the owner.
In Florida, tenants have a unique set of rights when leasing a property from a landlord. A tenant is entitled to:
- the right of private, peaceful possession of the property.
- The right to change the locks on the doors and install security cameras (if you do not damage the property)
- prevent the owner from entering (unless there is an emergency or upon reasonable notice to make repairs)
- the right to quiet enjoyment
- the right to habitability (the landlord must deliver possession of the property in a habitable “livable” condition)
- the right to make minor repairs/renovations.
What is Implied Warranty of Habitability?
Under Florida Statute § 83.56, the landlord is required to deliver the property in a livable condition. Meaning, the landlord must ensure that the dwelling has plumbing, hot water, heating, be structurally sound (roof, walls, floors), and equipped with reasonable security, such as functional and locking door and windows. Furthermore, the dwelling must be free of pests and contain smoke detectors. If a landlord does not provide the above, a landlord may be liable for breach. Interestingly enough, air conditioning is not required to render a unit habitable in the state of Florida!
If a landlord does not render the property in a habitable condition and/or if the landlord breaches one if its duties, you can serve the landlord with a Notice to remedy the defect or you will vacate the premises. If the landlord does not fix the defects, you have legal rights. Moreover, if the landlord engages in self-help or retaliates against you, such as turning off the utilities, water, gas, or electricity, changing or removing the locks, doors, or windows from the dwelling, or removing a tenant’s property from the dwelling…you have legal rights.
Who is responsible to make repairs to a leased premise? These terms should be outlined in your lease. Therefore, it is always important to read your lease before you sign it. Failure to read the lease is not a defense either. It you sign it, you are stuck. Generally, the tenant is liable for normal wear and tear and “minor repairs.” (Fla. Stat. 83.52). A landlord is typically responsible to fix and/or replace appliances, fixtures, and structural components of the house and “major repairs.” There is a difference between ordinary repairs and extraordinary repairs. If either the landlord or the tenant fails to comply with the requirements of the rental agreement or the Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act, the aggrieved party may recover the damages caused by the noncompliance. (Fla. Stat. 83.55).
If the landlord does not make necessary repairs, can I stop paying rent? If your landlord does not make the needed repairs to the property (as required by law), there are two things you can do about it depending on whether you want to stay in the leased premise or if you want to vacate the premise and terminate the lease.
Before taking any other action, you must deliver to the landlord 7-Day Notice in writing of a) the failure to comply with the terms of the lease agreement and b) your intent to terminate the rental agreement or to withhold rent because of the noncompliance. (Fla. Stat. 83.56(1) and Fla. Stat. 83.60(1)). If after the expiration of the 7 days, the matter is not resolved, you can unilaterally terminate the lease or withhold your rent until the landlord makes the repairs. The process is a little more complicated if the failure to comply is due to circumstances beyond the landlord’s control. If there is a dispute as to the repair and whether it is the responsibility of the landlord to repair, you should consult one of our attorneys. Because in the event that you vacate the premise and terminate the lease and you were not permitted to do so under the law, the landlord can sue for breach of lease and damages.
At the Horton Law Group, we treat our clients like family. We are actively involved in the community, and we maintain professional relationships with our clients long after their cases are resolved. We are aggressive, knowledgeable about the law and passionate about what we do. We are confident that you will be happy with your decision to hire the Horton Law Group to represent you during this difficult time. Please contact the Horton Law Group, P.A. at 561-299-0018 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with a qualified member from our team.