The Florida Fair Housing Act of 1968 was designed to protect tenants from unfair treatment by landlords. The current Florida Statutes incorporate these principles and lay out the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant. Read Do’s and Don’t’s: What Your Florida Landlord is Responsible For to learn about the landlord’s responsibilities.
The tenant’s responsibilities are defined in 2017 Florida Statutes paragraph 83.52:
The tenant at all times during the tenancy shall:
(1) Comply with all obligations imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building, housing, and health codes.
(2) Keep that part of the premises which he or she occupies and uses clean and sanitary.
(3) Remove from the tenant’s dwelling unit all garbage in a clean and sanitary manner.
(4) Keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant clean and sanitary and in repair.
(5) Use and operate in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators.
(6) Not destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises or property therein belonging to the landlord nor permit any person to do so.
(7) Conduct himself or herself, and require other persons on the premises with his or her consent to conduct themselves, in a manner that does not unreasonably disturb the tenant’s neighbors or constitute a breach of the peace.
In addition, your rental agreement will require some payment of an advance deposit. The agreement will stipulate the amount and the landlord’s right to hold onto the deposit until you move out, and to withhold some of the deposit if necessary to cover damages.
Though the law does not stipulate rules regarding pets, the landlord has the right to define rules about pet ownership and inform you of the rules. You have a responsibility to follow those rules and to keep your unit clean and reasonably noise-free, as defined above in your legal responsibilities. Landlords may not bar service animals trained for physical or mental disability.
With regard to landlord access, paragraph 83.53.1 stipulates that
The tenant shall not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter the dwelling unit from time to time in order to inspect the premises; make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements; supply agreed services; or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors.
Review the landlord’s responsibilities in the statutes in order to have a clear understanding of your specific rights if the landlord does not fulfill those duties.
In addition to the landlord’s duties stipulated in paragraph 83.51, the landlord also has limited right of entry, as defined in paragraph 83.53. In summary, while the tenant must allow the landlord entry, the landlord may not enter the dwelling for repairs without offering reasonable notice (at least 24 hours and between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.). The landlord may enter for other reasons if it is an emergency, if he has the tenant’s consent, or if the tenant unreasonably withholds consent. He may also enter if the tenant is absent for half the time of periodic rental payments. But the landlord may not abuse this right of access nor use it to harass the tenant.
In addition, the tenant has a general legal “right to quiet enjoyment.” This is somewhat subjective, but it refers to the tenant’s right to a peaceful existence at the unit being rented, that the landlord’s behavior or actions may not impinge upon the tenant’s peace. Examples of that impingement could include:
- unreasonable or frequent requests for entry or entering without notice
- changing the availability of utilities without notice or to harass and try to force the tenant out (such as turning off the hot water or having many excuses why the hot water isn’t working)
- changing the locks without notice
- neglecting upkeep of the property
- creating a great deal of noise or mess during construction that could be avoided
Good tenant practices
Be familiar with the Florida statutes so you understand the landlord’s responsibilities as well as your own.
Always read the entire rental agreement. If there is something you don’t understand, don’t sign it. Ask a trusted friend or legal advisor to take a look at anything you don’t understand or you think is unreasonable.
Take a final walk through the empty unit before you sign any agreement. Go through with the landlord or a representative of the property owner company, making a list and taking photos of any damage already existing. This evidence will prevent the landlord from blaming you for it and withholding your deposit.
Pay your rent on time and give the landlord adequate notice before you move out; thoroughly clean the unit and fix anything you damaged, so the landlord does not have the excuse to withhold your deposit for unpaid rent or repairs.
While many agreements require that you obtain renter’s insurance, it’s a good idea even if your agreement does not require it. Renter’s insurance will cover losses due to fire or theft, provide coverage if your negligence causes someone else injury, and may help cover damages to the unit.
What if you think the landlord is not fulfilling his duties?
If you believe your landlord is not fulfilling his responsibilities toward you, especially if you or a member of your family has been hurt by his negligence, you have a right to compensation. If your landlord has broken trust, entered your dwelling unreasonably, or otherwise made your life uncomfortable, you may have recompense in court. A landlord who breaches your right to quiet enjoyment, invades your privacy, or causes harm due to negligence should be held liable.
Contact me from anywhere in Florida at (954) 448-7288, 24/7 for a free consultation to see how I can help you. As an experienced personal injury lawyer and a life-long resident of Florida, I am committed to helping Floridians who are being unjustly treated or injured by negligence receive the compensation they deserve. Let’s talk about your situation to determine what recourse you have to seek relief or reparation.