Florida renters and lessees may feel like they maintain no power in a landlord/tenant relationship. They may simply feel like they are at the mercy of their landlord, but that’s not at all true.
Per the Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act outlined in Florida Statute §83.40, a tenant is entitled to individual rights and responsibilities, including the right to a private, peaceful possession of the dwelling – and a dwelling that is safe and habitable, among other rights.
Often disputes between tenants and landlords arise when these rights get ignored, downplayed or misconstrued.
Below are examples of common issues that can occur for Florida renters and what you can do to ensure that your rights remain upheld:
- Maintenance conflicts – Who’s responsible for what when it comes to property damage or maintenance repairs is an age-old question for renters and landlords.
At the highest level, property owners are responsible for ensuring that the home remains safe and habitable. Property damage like mold, pests, damaged plumbing, structural defects, or other serious problems that make your living space unsafe and unhealthy need to be remediated and repaired immediately by the landlord. This type of damage is not a tenant’s responsibility. For help on what to do if your landlord won’t repair property damage, read this post.
For more day-to-day maintenance concerns, like what to do if there is a clogged sink drain, refer to your lease agreement for clarification.
- Issues of nonpayment – Tenant agreements should very clearly explain payment terms and how those monies are applied. Fees or utility payments may also be included in your rent payment. Be sure to understand what is expected of you in terms of your contractual obligation and consult an attorney with any questions before signing a lease.
- Issues with the security deposit – Security deposits are one-time, refundable fees paid to the landlord when entering a rental agreement. Upon terminating the lease and vacating, the landlord typically has 30 days to return the security deposit.
While not required by law (though there are laws to govern its application, specifically Florida Statute §83.49), most landlords choose to include a security deposit in their contract as a way of giving themselves some financial protection in the event that a tenant fails to pay rent or significantly damages the property. Issues typically come into play when a deposit is not returned for one reason or another. For tips on how to protect your deposit, read this post.
Disputes between landlords and tenants can be common, but knowing your rights as a renter is the first step in protecting yourself. If you have questions about any of the terms related to your rental agreement, get in touch with us at Silverberg | Brito, PLLC right away.