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Sally rents an apartment in Tallahassee. Her landlord, Mark, hasn't fixed her leaking toilet since she left him a voicemail about the problem four days ago. Other tenants in her complex have been complaining that Mark hasn't replied to their maintenance requests, either. She's a first-time renter, so she's unsure of how to handle the problem.
In this situation, Sally and her fellow tenants may have a strong case to take Mark to court for breaking his part of their lease agreements. In their leases, the landlord is responsible for repairing damages beyond standard wear and tear. Many situations like this can be resolved with just a notice from a lawyer without needing to go to court, though.
Whether you're a landlord or a tenant, you should typically be able to deal with legal issues without going to court. Some landlord-tenant disputes will leave you with no other option. Both parties need to know the basics of renting out a place, how to collect or pay security deposits, about fair housing laws, etc. This overview of key Florida landlord-tenant laws will help guide you.
A security deposit is a normal part of a lease agreement in Florida that is meant to cover unpaid rent and/or any repairs to damages and restorative refurbishment beyond normal wear and tear once a tenant moves out. The landlord can charge the tenant any amount for a security deposit. Typically, a security deposit totals to one to two months' rent.
Once the tenant moves out, the landlord has 15 days to return the deposit with interest. If the landlord decides to use a portion of the deposit, they must mail a written intent to claim notice to the tenant within 30 days after they move out detailing the required repairs or services and their dollar amount.
If the tenant doesn't object to the claim within 15 days of receiving the notice, they still retain the right to seek damages under Florida law. If the landlord doesn't submit the notice within the 30-day time limit, they forfeit the right to impose their claim but may file for damages after the deposit is returned.
The lease agreement is the foundation of the landlord-tenant relationship. It is a legally binding agreement of the responsibilities both the landlord and the tenant promise to uphold. In addition to specifics like amenities, renovations and other apartment features, the lease includes legal details like:
A lease can terminate in two ways: naturally when the lease runs its course or when the tenant or landlord breaks the lease agreement in material noncompliance—e.g. the tenant doesn't pay rent or the landlord fails to repair property damage from a natural disaster. In any case, Florida's landlord-tenant laws require advance notice prior to the lease's termination or the tenant's eviction.
When a lease is nearing the end of its term and the landlord or tenant decides to not renew it for any reason, they must provide advance notice to the other party no less than:
The landlord may evict a tenant who fails to pay rent three non-holiday weekdays after the landlord has notified the tenant of their potential eviction for nonpayment. If a tenant breaks the lease agreement in any other way besides not paying rent, the tenant has seven days from the landlord's notice to remedy the situation before they're evicted.
Florida and federal discrimination laws are employed in housing practices and landlord-tenant relationships under Florida's Fair Housing Act, which states that landlords may not:
Based on a tenant's protected characteristic, including:
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, you may want to take a look at the Landlord & Tenant Handbook published by the Florida Citizen Dispute Settlement Program for more detailed information on Florida landlord-tenant law. If you find you are in need of legal counsel or advice, you should consider hiring a landlord-tenant lawyer to represent your interests.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified landlord tenant lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local landlord tenant attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.