As a tenant, landlord harassment is a significant issue. While they may own the property, Florida’s laws outline that you have a right to occupy it in peace, without undue disturbance or discrimination. If landlords overstep the mark, there can be consequences. 

So, can a tenant be compensated for landlord harassment? Yes, financial compensation is certainly one of the options available. Though, there are other forms of recourse and the route to resolution can certainly depend on the circumstances. 

Let’s take a closer look at the issue of landlord harassment, how tenants like you can effectively respond, and — if necessary — how compensation factors into the process.

What is Landlord Harassment?

So, before we get into the weeds of compensation, it’s important to understand what actually constitutes landlord harassment. Naturally, you’re not likely to be able to sue simply because your landlord makes a phone call to you to chase-up on late rent payments. There really needs to be clear breaches of the basic tenets related to your rights to privacy, to not face discrimination, and — if appropriate — that an eviction was lawful. 

Some examples of harassment might include:

  • Intrusions into your living space: Landlords are generally required to provide notice before entering a rental unit, except in emergencies. If a landlord frequently enters without proper notice or justification, it can create an atmosphere of invasion of privacy. This may constitute harassment, particularly if it occurs frequently.
  • Misuse of their power to control essential services: This may include deliberately disrupting utility services such as water, electricity, or heating, with the intent to coerce or force the tenant into some form of action. Florida law prohibits this type of behavior, emphasizing the landlord’s obligation to maintain these services throughout the tenancy.
  • Verbal abuse or threats: Unreasonable and aggressive communication from the landlord can cause emotional distress and make the living situation untenable. Landlords are explicitly prohibited landlords from engaging in any conduct that disturbs a tenant’s peace. Even if you have been late on your rent, abuse and threats — other than a reasonable warning regarding legal eviction action being taken — is not warranted.
  • Retaliatory actions by the landlord: If your landlord has had disagreements with you in the past, for instance, if you exercise your legal rights to report code violations or file complaints, the landlord might take what is known as retaliatory action. They could seek  unwarranted evictions or demand rent increases. This may also be considered harassment in some circumstances.

What Resolution Options Are In Place for Tenants?

Florida, like many states, recognizes the fundamental importance of safeguarding tenants’ rights and protecting them from landlord harassment. Tenants in the state benefit from a robust legal framework alongside industry standards. Many are enshrined under different sections of the state statutes. For instance, Title VI, Chapter 83, Section 53 prohibits the landlord from abusing rights of access. These elements can be complex, so it’s always wise to collaborate with an experienced Florida real estate lawyer to establish the right statutes and recourse related to harassment.

Due to our current caseload, our office simply does not the have the resources
needed to dedicate to any additional tenant legal matters.
Any tenant-specific legal matters should be referred to the following organization:
Lawyer Referral Service Online (available 24/7) — https://www.floridabar.org/public/lrs/
or Phone (800) 342-8011 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Nevertheless, some of the options for resolution that you could pursue as a tenant facing harassment include:

Lawsuits related directly to emotional or physical harm

One direct avenue for seeking resolution is to pursue compensation through the civil court system. Tenants who have experienced harassment can file a lawsuit against their landlord, seeking damages for emotional distress, any physical harm caused, and other losses resulting from the harassment. However, it’s important to remember that these types of cases — particularly related to emotional distress — tend to rely on clear evidence. Your attorney can help guide you here.

Lawsuits related to specific expenses

Seeking resolution through compensation for emotional distress is certainly more challenging than pursuing clear and specific financial losses related to harassment. These can be related to medical bills that are the result of your landlord’s behavior, relocation expenses due to unlawful evictions, and even costs such as installing security equipment to protect yourself from unauthorized landlord entry. Your lawyer will be able to help you present this to the civil courts to show there is a clear connection to harassment.

Criminal charges

In some instances, landlord harassment may go beyond civil liability and into criminal behavior. This is most often related to committing or threatening physical violence and other forms of abuse. In these instances, tenants can make a complaint directly to the police. If appropriate, you can also engage an attorney to petition the criminal court handling the case to highlight damages you have experienced, which may prompt the judge to include financial restitution to you as part of a punishment.

Mediation or arbitration

A landlord harassment matter doesn’t necessarily have to go to court for a tenant to receive a positive outcome. Mediation and arbitration usually involves attorneys representing both parties and may be facilitated by a mediator experienced in landlord disputes. This is aimed at giving both parties a chance to present their sides of the matter and reach a mutually agreeable settlement. While it’s possible to do this without a lawyer present, this can make tenants vulnerable to agreeing to terms that don’t adequately address the harm caused by the harassment.

How Tenants Should Respond to Harassment

Attorneys talking with one another
Compensation for landlord harassment is usually the last step in a process. There are various actions that need to take place before reaching this outcome. When tenants find themselves subjected to landlord harassment in Florida, understanding the proper course of action is crucial should a claim become necessary.

This should include:

Document thoroughly

The first step for tenants facing harassment is to meticulously document each incident. This includes a detailed record that includes dates, times, descriptions of the harassment, and any communication. This record in itself can become evidence when reporting the harassment to relevant authorities or pursuing legal recourse. It’s also important to collect other forms of evidence of harassment. This could be screen grabs of text messages or emails the landlord sends. It could also include video or photographic evidence of their behavior. Footage from doorbell cameras has become increasingly useful here.

Report to authorities

Tenants in Florida have the option to report landlord harassment to local housing authorities. These agencies are tasked with overseeing housing regulations and ensuring compliance with state and local laws. Filing a complaint with the housing authority initiates an official investigation into the allegations of harassment, and if violations are found, the landlord may be subject to penalties and corrective actions. Not to mention that it provides another point of evidence should you choose to seek compensation.

Collaborate with an attorney

If it becomes necessary to seek compensation or other forms of recourse, this is the point at which you reach out to an attorney. They’ll discuss the details of the harassment you’ve received, the evidence you’ve collated, and the steps you’ve taken to address the matter so far. Your attorney can then advise you of the most appropriate course of action and create a plan for petitioning the courts and presenting your case. They’ll also likely advise you to keep collecting evidence throughout the process, as retaliatory action is not unusual and can also lead to compensation.

Due to our current caseload, our office simply does not the have the resources
needed to dedicate to any additional tenant legal matters.
Any tenant-specific legal matters should be referred to the following organization:
Lawyer Referral Service Online (available 24/7) — https://www.floridabar.org/public/lrs/
or Phone (800) 342-8011 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Regain Your Peace of Mind

In the end, addressing landlord harassment isn’t just about getting financially compensated. It’s about making certain you feel safe and secure in the home you rent, which is well within your rights. If you’re uncertain whether what you’ve experienced constitutes harassment or how best to proceed, reaching out to an experienced real estate attorney is a solid first step.

As a new landlord, you may be faced with new challenges. It’s important to go into this role headstrong and with a determined attitude. In this article, we’ll give you a few tips to keep in mind as you begin your responsibilities as a landlord. Keep reading to learn more.

Get a Home Warranty Plan

A home warranty plan can be a great asset for your properties, especially if you don’t want to do repairs yourself. Whenever a tenant needs a repair, you can simply submit a request to the home warranty company. Doing this saves you time on repairs and finding a reputable contractor as well as give quality repairs if you aren’t an experienced handyman.

Having a home warranty company can also help if you don’t live near your rental properties. To learn more about what home warranty plan may be best for your properties, check out reviews of Florida home warranties.

Understand Your Legal Responsibilities

As a landlord, you must adhere to federal, state, and local laws governing rental properties. These regulations cover:

– Fair housing practices
– Security deposit limits and procedures
– Eviction procedures
– Maintenance and repair responsibilities
– Rent control laws

Familiarize yourself with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Act and consult with a real estate attorney to ensure compliance with all legal requirements.

Having a home warranty company can also help if you don’t live near your rental properties. To learn more about what home warranty plan may be best for your properties, check out reviews of Florida home warranties.

Don’t Become Too Personal With Your Tenants

As a new landlord, getting your first tenants can be an exciting experience. Your first tenants may make you feel successful, but you may feel more connected to them. It’s important to not have a personal relationship with your tenants as a landlord. If you become too close to your tenants, it may be tough to make important decisions, and can cause serious conflict if problems like late rent payments or evictions arise.

With that being said, you may want to seriously consider whether or not you want to rent your properties to family or friends. While you may want to help them out, it is possible that they can take advantage of their relationship with you.

Treat Your Properties Like Your Own Business

You need to be serious about the properties you are renting out. Being a landlord isn’t just renting out your property to another person. It’s about staying updated with laws, regulations, payments, maintenance, management, and more. Unless you hire a property management company to manage your rentals, you’ll be doing the work yourself.

The more you take your rental properties seriously, the more successful you will be. This includes properties you stay in as well, such as vacation homes.

Don’t Be Too Intrusive

Yes, you are the owner of the properties you rent out. However, you should not be intruding in the lives of your tenants. While you should play an active role in maintaining your properties, no tenant wants their landlord to make frequent visits. Additionally, never enter the property unless there is an emergency. Certain states require landlords to give notice before entering a property, but even if there is no such law in your state, you should respect your tenant’s privacy.

Keep Up to Date

As mentioned above, you should treat your property like a business. Part of this means keeping up to date with any laws and regulations on both the national and local levels. New laws can be put into effect at any time, and can potentially change the way you manage your property. Without keeping up to date, you may find yourself breaking rules and regulations without knowing it. As long as you pay attention to real estate news, you should be okay.

Once you are up to date, make sure you keep your properties in accordance with the regulations. Don’t ignore any needed updates just to save money.

By following these tips, you’ll find yourself in a good position as a new landlord. Becoming a successful landlord takes time and dedication. Whether you only want to rent out one property or you want to acquire multiple properties, you should treat the job all the same.

Screen Tenants Thoroughly

A thorough tenant screening process is crucial for ensuring a positive landlord-tenant relationship. Implement the following steps:

1. Require a rental application
2. Conduct a credit check
3. Verify income and employment
4. Contact previous landlords for references
5. Perform a criminal background check

By carefully screening tenants, you can minimize the risk of late payments, property damage, and costly evictions.

Set a Competitive Rental Price

To attract quality tenants and avoid extended vacancies, set a competitive rental price for your property. Research comparable rentals in your area by checking online listings, consulting with local real estate agents, and reviewing rental market reports. Consider factors such as location, amenities, and property condition when determining the appropriate rent.

Create a Comprehensive Lease Agreement

A well-drafted lease agreement protects both the landlord and tenant by clearly outlining the terms and conditions of the rental arrangement. Key elements to include are:

1. Rent amount and due date
2. Security deposit terms
3. Lease duration and renewal options
4. Maintenance responsibilities
5. Rules regarding pets, smoking, and alterations to the property
6. Termination and eviction procedures

Consult with a real estate attorney to draft a legally binding lease agreement tailored to your specific needs.

Regularly Inspect and Maintain Your Property

Proactive property maintenance is essential for preserving the value of your investment and ensuring tenant satisfaction. Conduct regular inspections to identify and address any issues before they escalate. Create a maintenance schedule that covers:

1. Routine inspections (e.g., quarterly or annually)
2. Seasonal maintenance (e.g., HVAC servicing, gutter cleaning)
3. Preventative measures (e.g., pest control, weatherproofing)
4. Emergency repairs

Establishing open lines of communication with your tenants will encourage them to report any problems promptly, allowing you to address issues in a timely manner.

In conclusion, becoming a successful first-time landlord requires understanding your legal obligations, thoroughly screening tenants, setting a competitive rental price, drafting a comprehensive lease agreement, and proactively maintaining your property. By following these five essential tips, you can confidently navigate the rental market and maximize your return on investment.

 

Stephen K. Hachey P.A. Stephen K. Hachey P.A.
Have Questions?
Speak With a Real Estate Attorney Now
Call Now! (813) 549-0096

As a real estate attorney based in the Sunshine State, I can't stress enough the importance of understanding and complying with Florida Landlord Tenant laws. This advice isn't merely a suggestion—it's a necessity for anyone stepping into the shoes of a landlord. In this blog post, I'll walk you through some of the most crucial aspects of these laws and help you comprehend how they can impact your role as a property owner.

The Power of the Rental Agreement

Let's start with the first line of defense—a comprehensive rental agreement or lease. Think of this document as your roadmap in the often complex journey of property rental. It delineates the rights and obligations of both parties involved—the landlord (you) and the tenant. This agreement sets the rules of the game, from the amount of rent and due dates to the terms of property use and maintenance responsibilities.

However, crafting a lease agreement isn't about loading it with restrictions and stipulations aimed solely at protecting your interests. It's about creating a balanced document that also considers the rights of your tenants. Remember, a happy tenant often equates to a hassle-free landlord experience. So, it's in your best interest to be fair and transparent right from the outset.

State Law Rules the Roost

Now, you've got a detailed lease that both parties are happy with. Great start, but it's vital to remember that no matter how comprehensive your rental agreement is, it's always subject to the overriding power of state law—in this case, the Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act.

Yes, you read that right. State law trumps your lease agreement. This law is designed to provide a fair playing field for both landlords and tenants, ensuring neither party can enforce unjust or abusive terms on the other. If your lease includes terms that conflict with state law, those terms will be unenforceable, and you could find yourself facing a legal battle that you hadn't bargained for.

This is why it's essential to review all relevant state laws and ensure they align with your lease agreement. Understanding the Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act can be a bit of a daunting task, given the breadth of its coverage. But fear not, I'll be shedding light on some of the most crucial aspects that every landlord should be aware of in the sections to follow. Stay tuned for a deep dive into rental payments, lease termination, background checks, and more.

Remember, being a successful landlord isn't just about owning property—it's about understanding the legal landscape and navigating it effectively. Stay informed and stay protected.

Managing Rental Payments and Lease Termination

Now, let's talk about one of the critical aspects of your role as a landlord: managing rental payments. It goes without saying that timely payments are vital for maintaining a healthy cash flow. However, life happens, and you might find yourself dealing with late or missed payments. Florida law provides a reasonable window for late payments, but it's crucial to specify this in your lease agreement.

However, you cannot take the law into your own hands if a tenant fails to pay. Florida law prohibits landlords from forcing tenants out without court approval. If you find yourself in a situation where eviction seems inevitable, remember to take the legal route by filing a complaint with the courts. This may seem tedious, but it's the only lawful way to protect your interests.

The Value of Background Checks

One aspect of being a landlord that often gets overlooked is the necessity of conducting background checks. In the excitement of finding a potential tenant, it might be tempting to skip this step. However, a comprehensive background check is more than a mere formality. It is a crucial tool to ensure the security of your property and protect yourself from potential legal hassles down the line.

By performing a background check, you're not just securing your property, but you're also providing peace of mind for your neighbors, particularly if your property is part of a shared community like an apartment or condo building. Remember, a little due diligence can save you a lot of trouble in the future.

Navigating the Waters of Security Deposits

Security deposits are another integral part of the landlord-tenant relationship. This sum should be collected before or at the signing of the rental agreement, and it's important to include the specific amount in your lease terms.

The way you handle this deposit is regulated by Florida law. The collected money should be kept in a separate account, not mixed with your personal or business funds. You're also required to disclose to the tenant the location of the deposit and whether it's held in an interest-bearing account.

At the end of the lease, unless there are valid reasons for deductions, such as unpaid rent or damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear, the deposit should be returned to the tenant. If you plan to make deductions, Florida law requires you to give a written notice outlining the specifics within 30 days of lease termination.

Conclusion

Navigating the legal landscape of landlord-tenant laws can seem daunting, especially if you're a first-time landlord or if you're unsure whether your lease agreement complies with Florida law. It's highly recommended to consult with a knowledgeable, licensed real estate attorney who can guide you through this process.

Remember, being a successful landlord is not just about owning a property—it's about understanding the legal landscape and navigating it effectively. So, arm yourself with knowledge, stay informed, and protect your interests.

If you need assistance wading through these complex waters to reach a positive solution, don't hesitate to call. I'm here to help make your landlord journey a smooth one.

 

Stephen K. Hachey P.A. Stephen K. Hachey P.A.
Have Questions?
Speak With a Real Estate Attorney Now
Call Now! (813) 549-0096

Nothing is more of a kick in the gut than faithfully paying rent on time for years just to get a notice stating that your rent is about to climb. You’ve budgeting your money intently with the purpose of having a rent check handy for your landlord on the first of the month. You may not necessarily have the means to absorb a rent increase, but now you have one. And you have a decision to make. Pay the increased rent or look for a new home. It’s a frustrating and often, unanticipated decision that many of us have faced throughout our lives. What’s worse is that Florida is not a rent-controlled state. This means that your landlord can increase rent as much as he or she wants and, in more desirable parts of the state, rent increases can be extreme from year to year. While it may appear that you are powerless to constant rent increases, there is a way to fight back.

People may become squeamish at thought of negotiating for the things they need in life, but they really shouldn’t. Negotiation is no longer the domain of corporate power players and people trying to win back hostages. It’s a simply of method for ensuring that your interests are protected. We all earn a certain amount of money and it’s up to each one of us to make the best decisions in regard to it. While saving your money and making proper investments is a part of that, so to is getting the best prices possible for goods and services. The rent you pay for your home is no different. To protect your interest in this area sometimes requires asking the right questions and seeking the best price possible.

Negotiating a better rent doesn’t have to be intimidating. Follow these basic steps and you may earn a rental price that works best for your budget.

Put in the Homework

First and foremost, you have to do some research. What are your neighbors paying for their places? What are the rent prices for comparable places in your area? Not just places on your block, but places of similar size, quality and age. This will be done in the hopes that you find a pattern of locations like yours with lower rent prices. Armed with this information, you can approach your landlord with the confidence to negotiate.

Build a Plan

Part of building a plan is determining what outcome are you looking to achieve. Do you want to keep the same rent? Gain more amenities? Upgrade certain items? Once you’ve determined what you want, it’s time to gather your research of similar places and the positive attributes you bring to the table and build a sound argument. If you’ve paid your rent on time each month, not hosted all-night foam parties, and been an all-around model citizen, you have more leverage than you realize. Your landlord is not going to be as willing to roll the dice on finding a tenant of your ilk. Use that to your advantage.

Put Yourself in Your Landlord’s Shoes

To that point, empathy is a critical part of any successful negotiation. While your landlord wants more income on a monthly basis, they also don’t want to risk losing a good and stable tenant. This doesn’t mean that you tell your landlord “my way or the highway”, however it does help you determine what you can offer to get what you need. Perhaps you offer to pay a couple of months rent in order to keep your rent at the same price. Or you may offer to sign a longer lease. Oftentimes, consistent income is better than more income.

Negotiate in Person

In our digital age, it’s become all too easy to hide behind and a screen and push people around. It’s much harder to be aggressive in person. When negotiating your rent, do so in a formal meeting. It’s likely that your landlord will not have prepared thoroughly for the discussion. If you come in polite, prepared and persuasive, you’ll have a great advantage in negotiation.

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be a master negotiator, just confident and motivated to get what you want out of a situation. That and preparation will go a long way.

Stephen K. Hachey Can Help You Wade Through This Difficult Process To Reach A Positive Solution. Call 813-549-0096 Today!

***The opinions in this post are solely those of the author. The author takes full responsibility for the content. Like all blog posts, this is offered for general information purposes and does not constitute legal advice.***

According to Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes – specifically article 53 – a landlord cannot remove locks from a property unless it’s for the purpose of maintaining, repairing or replacing them. The same chapter also covers whether a tenant can change the property’s locks without the landlord’s content. Let’s take a look.

Landlord’s Access to the Property

According to Chapter 83, article 53 of the Florida Statutes, tenants have certain obligations when it comes to granting landlords access to the property. Landlords may require entry for a variety of reasons:

Inspections: Regular checks to ensure the property is in good condition.
Maintenance or Repairs: Addressing wear and tear or specific issues that arise.
Providing Agreed Services: This could include pest control, HVAC maintenance, or other services agreed upon in the lease.
Showing the Property: Landlords might need to show the property to potential buyers, tenants, or other stakeholders.

It’s also worth noting that landlords have the right to access the property at any time to protect or preserve it. This could be in situations where there’s a risk of damage or harm. However, in most cases, landlords should provide at least 12 hours’ notice and should visit between the hours of 7:30 A.M. and 8 P.M. There are exceptions, such as emergencies, when the tenant has given consent, if the tenant unreasonably denies access, or if the tenant has been absent for an extended period.

Changing the Locks as a Tenant

Security is a primary concern for many tenants. However, when it comes to changing locks, there are specific guidelines to follow. Unless the lease agreement explicitly allows it, tenants should not change the property locks without the landlord’s consent. Doing so can lead to complications, including potential eviction.

If a tenant feels their privacy is being violated due to a landlord’s frequent and unannounced visits, it’s crucial to address the issue. Communication is key. Discussing concerns with the landlord might lead to a resolution. However, if the problem persists, seeking legal counsel is advisable.

Due to our current caseload, our office simply does not the have the resources
needed to dedicate to any additional tenant legal matters.
Any tenant-specific legal matters should be referred to the following organization:
Lawyer Referral Service Online (available 24/7) — https://www.floridabar.org/public/lrs/
or Phone (800) 342-8011 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Seeking Legal Advice

Navigating property rights can be complex. If tenants or landlords face issues related to property access, security, or any other disputes, consulting with a legal expert is essential. An experienced real estate attorney can provide guidance, ensuring that both parties’ rights are upheld and that any conflicts are resolved amicably.

***The opinions in this blog are those of the author whom takes full responsibility for the content. Like all other content on the site, this does not constitute legal advice and is for general information purposes only.***

If you own a property and are thinking about selling it with a tenant still occupying it, you might ask yourself if you’re legally able to. Simply put, you can sell your property if you buy the tenant out of his or her lease. Otherwise, the person who purchases the property would have to honor the terms of the withstanding lease.

Let’s take a closer look at this often-asked question.

How to Handle a Month-to-Month Lease When Selling a Property

If you’ve rented your property on a month-to-month basis, you’ll only need to notify the tenant before you’d like him or her to move out. You must notify the tenant with a letter, either by mailing it (ensure that he or she has received it with a signature) or delivering it in person. In Florida, when terminating a month-to-month lease, you must notify the tenant not less than 15 days before the end of any monthly period.

Remember, you don’t need a reason to terminate a month-to-month lease, which is one of the benefits of having one. When writing the letter, ensure you include:

  • The current date.
  • How many days the tenant has before you terminate the lease.
  • A statement to remove all possessions and return the keys by that date.
  • A statement informing the tenant you’ll start the eviction process otherwise.

How to Handle a Fixed-Term Lease When Selling a Property

If you’ve rented your property on a fixed-term basis, it’ll take a little more effort – or money – to ensure your tenant moves on. Here are the five options you have.

  • Wait until the fixed-term lease has expired
  • Sell the property with the lease still active
  • Negotiate and pay the tenant to vacate
  • Sell the property to the tenant
  • Execute an early termination clause in the fixed-term lease

While a month-to-month lease is relatively easy to work around, a fixed-term lease is another story. Although you have options, it’s best to talk with an experienced real estate attorney to sort through them.

 

Stephen K. Hachey P.A. Stephen K. Hachey P.A.
Have Questions?
Speak With a Real Estate Attorney Now
Call Now! (813) 549-0096

I often field questions from tenants about their rights, particularly in situations where their rental property falls short of expectations. A common concern revolves around the conditions under which a tenant can withhold rent. This topic is an essential aspect of landlord-tenant relationships and one that everyone should be aware of.

The Fundamentals of Rent Withholding

At its core, the right to withhold rent in Florida hinges on a simple, yet powerful concept: tenants are entitled to a rental property that meets specific health, structural, and safety standards as mandated by the state. It means that, as a tenant, you should expect your rented property to be livable and safe.

However, suppose a landlord fails to uphold these standards. In that case, whether it's neglecting to fix a leaky roof or a malfunctioning air conditioner, tenants have the right to withhold rent until the necessary repairs are made. It's a significant right, serving as a protective mechanism for tenants against landlords who may fail to maintain their properties adequately.

Demystifying Florida State Law

Florida Statute § 83.60 is the go-to legal reference when it comes to understanding the right to withhold rent. It outlines the specific circumstances under which a tenant can withhold rent and provides a useful guide on the types of repairs and habitability issues that qualify for such action.

While the statute covers a wide range of scenarios, the underlying principle remains consistent: a tenant has the right to live in a property that is safe and habitable. If conditions within the property compromise this basic requirement, you may have the legal grounds to withhold rent.

The Art of Notifying Your Landlord

Before you decide to withhold rent, it's crucial to follow the correct procedure. Communication is key, and the first step is to notify your landlord of the issue. This communication should ideally be in writing and provide clear details about the issue at hand, how it affects your living conditions, and a reasonable deadline for the landlord to address the problem.

The law provides landlords with a fair opportunity to fix the issue. If they fail to make the necessary repairs within the given time frame, only then does the option to withhold rent become viable. Remember, it's important to ensure your actions align with Florida’s legal requirements to protect your rights effectively.

Due to our current caseload, our office simply does not the have the resources
needed to dedicate to any additional tenant legal matters.
Any tenant-specific legal matters should be referred to the following organization:
Lawyer Referral Service Online (available 24/7) — https://www.floridabar.org/public/lrs/
or Phone (800) 342-8011 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Setting the Boundaries: Limitations on Withholding Rent

While the right to withhold rent serves as a critical protective measure for tenants, it's not a carte blanche. Florida law sets clear boundaries on how much rent can be withheld and how often. This restriction helps maintain a fair balance between the rights of the landlord and the tenant.

The specifics of these limitations can vary based on the severity of the habitability issue and the estimated cost of repairs. It's crucial to understand these nuances before deciding to withhold any portion of your rent. An informed decision will not only protect you legally but will also foster a healthier relationship with your landlord.

Additional Conditions for Withholding Rent

The right to withhold rent is not solely tied to repair and habitability issues. Other conditions may also allow you to withhold rent, provided they comply with Florida law. These additional circumstances further ensure that a tenant's basic rights are upheld throughout their lease.

For instance, if a landlord fails to provide essential services such as water or heat, a tenant may be legally justified in withholding a portion of their rent. However, it's always recommended to consult with a legal expert or attorney to ensure you're within your rights to withhold rent in such situations.

The Role of Local Housing Ordinances

Finally, it's crucial to note that your city or county's local housing ordinances may also come into play. These ordinances may cover additional aspects of a tenant's rights, particularly in relation to repairs and maintenance.

While state laws provide a broad framework, local ordinances can offer more specific protections and requirements. Therefore, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with these local laws to fully understand your rights and obligations as a tenant.

In Conclusion

Understanding the rights of tenants, particularly the right to withhold rent, is essential for a harmonious landlord-tenant relationship. While Florida law provides robust protections for tenants, it's equally important for tenants to uphold their end of the agreement and use these protections responsibly.

Every tenant in Florida should be aware of his or her landlord’s rent rules, which should be outlined in the rental or lease agreement. Here are the important ones.

Standard Rent Rules in Florida

Florida’s state laws cover some of the following rent-related concerns, including the amount of time a landlord has to issue a notice when he or she increases the rent and how much time the tenant has to either pay it or move to avoid eviction. Here’s what every rental or lease agreement should include as a standard set of rent rules.

  • The amount of rent owed each month
  • Where the rent is due
  • When the rent is due
  • How the tenant should pay the rent
  • The amount of notice a landlord must provide to increase the rent
  • The extra fee applied if a tenant’s rent check bounces
  • The consequences of paying the rent late

Late Fees for Rent Past Due in Florida

In most rental or lease agreements, rent is legally due on the first of the month. If you don’t pay the rent, your landlord can start charging you a late fee. Florida’s state laws don’t cover extra fees associated with late rent. If your agreement doesn’t include information about late fees, your landlord can’t impose one.

Due to our current caseload, our office simply does not the have the resources
needed to dedicate to any additional tenant legal matters.
Any tenant-specific legal matters should be referred to the following organization:
Lawyer Referral Service Online (available 24/7) — https://www.floridabar.org/public/lrs/
or Phone (800) 342-8011 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Amount of Notice Landlords Must Provide to Increase the Rent

There isn’t a state statute in Florida that covers the amount of notice landlords must provide to increase the rent in a month-to-month rental or lease agreement. Unless specified otherwise in your agreement, your landlord must provide the same amount of notice as state laws require when he or she terminates the tenancy, which is 15 days. If you have a long-term lease, your landlord cannot increase the rent until the current one ends and a new tenancy starts.

Termination For Nonpayment of Rent in Florida

All states set certain rules and procedures for terminating a tenancy when a tenant has failed to pay the rent. In Florida, the landlord must give the tenant three days to pay the rent or move before he or she can legally file for eviction.

The state of Florida requires landlords to provide the following disclosures to tenants, which you can usually find in either the rental or lease agreement.

Owner/Agent Identity (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.50)

Every landlord in Florida, or someone who is authorized to enter a rental agreement on his or her behalf, must disclose the name and the address where he or she will receive demands and notices. The landlord should do this in writing and provide it to the tenant either at or before the start of the tenancy.

Security Deposit (Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 83.49, 83.43 (12))

Every landlord in Florida must disclose whether he or she will hold the security deposit in an interest- or non-interest-bearing account within 30 days of receiving it. He or she must also disclose the name of the account depository as well as provide the time and the rate of interest payments. Landlords who collect deposits must include a copy of Florida Statutes § 83.49(3) in the rental or lease agreement.

Fire Protection (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.50)

Every landlord in Florida must notify new tenants of the available fire protections in buildings that are higher than three stories.

Radon (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 404.056)

Every landlord in Florida must include this warning in all of his or her leases: “RADON GAS: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that, when it has accumulated in a building in sufficient quantities, may present health risks to persons who are exposed to it over time. Levels of radon that exceed federal and state guidelines have been found in buildings in Florida. Additional information regarding radon and radon testing may be obtained from your county health department.”

Landlord Identity (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.50)

Every landlord in Florida, or someone who is authorized to enter a rental agreement on his or her behalf, must disclose the name and the address where he or she will receive demands and notices. The landlord should do this in writing and provide it to the tenant either at or before the start of the tenancy.

Stephen K. Hachey can help you wade through this difficult process to reach a positive solution. Call 813-549-0096 today!

***The opinions in this blog are those of the author whom takes full responsibility for the content. Like all other content on the site, this does not constitute legal advice and is for general information purposes only.***

According to Florida state law, landlords are prohibited from retaliating against tenants. If you’re a tenant in a rental unit and feel your landlord is retaliating against you, read on to know your rights.

What Rights Protect Tenants From Retaliating Landlords in Florida?

In Florida, it’s illegal for landlords to retaliate against tenants who’ve exercised these legal rights:

  • Notified the landlord about the rental unit’s unsafe or illegal living conditions
  • Notified a government agency about the rental unit’s unsafe or illegal living conditions
  • Joined or organized a tenant union to express your thoughts collectively

What Types of Retaliation Are Against Florida State Law?

Florida law states that landlords cannot take part in any one of the following retaliatory acts:

  • Terminating your lease without appropriate reason
  • Refusing to renew your lease without appropriate reason
  • Filing an eviction lawsuit without appropriate reason
  • Increasing your rent without proper notification and reason
  • Decreasing the services your rent covers, like locking the laundry room, removing cable access, draining the swimming pool or getting rid of the property’s security guards

How Should a Tenant Respond to a Landlord Who Performs a Retaliatory Act?

If you’ve been a victim of your landlord’s retaliatory actions, there are two possible responses:

  • You should stay and fight if the retaliatory act involves a terminated lease or an eviction, proving to a judge in court that either the termination or the eviction was illegal.
  • You should file a lawsuit in small claims court if the retaliatory act involves a rent hike or a reduction in services, asking a judge to prohibit the increase or reinstate the services.

How Can a Tenant Prove That His or Her Landlord Performed a Retaliatory Act?

Landlords are rarely foolish enough to hand you hard evidence proving that they’ve performed a retaliatory act. In fact, many of them will try to cover it up. Here are some common examples:

Stephen K. Hachey can help you wade through this difficult process to reach a positive solution. Call 813-549-0096 today!

***The opinions in this blog are those of the author whom takes full responsibility for the content. Like all other content on the site, this does not constitute legal advice and is for general information purposes only.***