Tenants in Florida are legally entitled to a rental property that meets a set of health, structural and safety standards as required by the state. If your landlord fails to meet and maintain these standards, whether it involves not repairing a broken air conditioner or a leaky roof, you have important legal rights to consider. One of these is the right to withhold rent until the landlord makes the necessary repairs.

When Can a Tenant Withhold Rent in Florida?

Before withholding rent, tenants should ensure the circumstances justify their actions and that you comply with Florida’s legal requirements. One of these requirements involves notifying your landlord of the issue.

Research Florida’s state laws, or Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.60, on the following to learn more about your right to withhold rent and what legal recourse you can take.

  • What types of repairs and habitability issues qualify for withholding rent
  • What type of notice does a tenant have to provide the landlord, and how much time does that landlord have to respond to the problem and fix it
  • What’s the limit on how much rent you can withhold and how often
  • What are the other applicable conditions before you’re able to withhold rent

It’s also important to check your city or county’s local housing ordinances to see if any of them cover a tenant’s rights as it pertains to repairs.

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.***

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.

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.

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.***

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:

  • The landlord terminates a lease following a tenant’s legitimate decision to withhold rent
  • The landlord refuses to renegotiate a lease following a tenant’s complaint to an agency
  • The landlord sends a termination notice, alleging that the tenant has misused the facilities

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.***

If you live in an apartment, you have just as much of a right to privacy as any homeowner. Here’s a brief look at Florida’s laws concerning when and how your landlord may enter your rental unit.

When Are Landlords Allowed to Enter Your Rental Property?

Although your landlord doesn’t always need an invitation to enter your apartment, all tenants have a right to privacy in their rental units. According to Florida law, a landlord can enter an apartment:

  • If he or she believes there is an emergency, like a fire or a water leak.
  • If he or she needs to inspect the rental unit or perform repairs in it.
  • If he or she has a reason to believe that the rental unit has been abandoned.
  • If he or she needs to show the rental unit to potential new tenants.
  • If he or she has a court order to do so.

How Much Notice Must Landlords Provide Before Entering the Rental Property?

Besides emergencies, your landlord must notify you at least 12 hours in advance before entering your apartment for the aforementioned reasons. Of course, if you agree that your landlord can enter your rental unit earlier than the 12-hour notice, he or she may do so. A landlord must also enter during a suitable timeframe, which Florida law states is between 7:30 A.M. and 8 P.M.

What Rights Do You Have as a Tenant if Your Landlord Violates?

The first thing you should do is discuss your concerns directly with your landlord, following it with a letter politely asking him or her to stop the intrusive behavior. If your landlord continues to violate your right to privacy, you could sue him or her in small claims court for infliction of emotional distress or trespassing.

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.***

The housing market crash of 2007 caused millions of American homeowners to face the risk of foreclosure because of declining property values and staggeringly high unemployment rates. In 2010, a year after the worst part the crisis, the Obama administration initiated the ‘Hardest Hit Fund’ in an attempt to help homeowners who were affected the most. Today, 18 states and the District of Columbia are taking part in the program. But not all of the states are benefiting, especially Florida.

Florida Has the Lowest Rate of Approval For HHF Assistance

Unfortunately for Floridian homeowners, the state has the lowest rate of approval for assistance, one of the highest rates for denying it and a general slowness in processing the thousands of applications it receives. Of the 109,775 homeowners who applied for assistance – second only to California – only 22,400 have received it. This equates to a 20 percent rate of approval, the lowest of all the states.

When the Obama administration implemented the ‘Hardest Hit Fund’ program, it estimated that 106,000 Floridian homeowners would receive help from it. With the program scheduled to end in December of 2017 that number has plunged to just 39,000. According to a detailed report, there are several factors contributing to this.

  • Florida’s government officials failed to persuade banks and loan servicing companies to participate in the program, which the treasury relied on.
  • Florida’s government officials cut the number of months unemployed homeowners could receive help from 18 to 6 months, even though 43 percent of unemployed workers were jobless for more than six months.
  • The Treasury Department failed in pressuring the state to act accordingly.

For more information about the Hardest Hit Fund and how it might possibly help you, contact a real estate attorney today.

Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help your wade through this process and determine a positive solution. Contact him at 813-549-0096.

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.

If your home is in foreclosure and you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, you are likely wondering if doing so will help you keep your home. The following are a few other questions to consider, as well: Will you still have to make mortgage payments after you file? Will your mortgage lender be able to foreclose on your home after your file?

Although filing for bankruptcy might be a worthwhile option to buy some more time, it likely won’t be a permanent fix to your foreclosure, unless you continue making mortgage payments. Before making a final decision to declare bankruptcy, understand what will happen to your home after filing under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 .

What You Need to Know About a Bankruptcy Discharge

When you file for bankruptcy, you do so to obtain a discharge or relief from certain debts. With a Chapter 7, this discharge is usually granted once the time for creditors to object the filing has expired. The average time in this case is four months from the filing date. With a Chapter 13, the discharge is granted after a payment plan has been completed. The average time for Chapter 13 is three to five years. But what about liability for a mortgage debt?

Although a bankruptcy discharge of a mortgage debt eliminates your personal liability to it, a mortgage lender can still foreclose on your home if you fail to make mortgage payments. As a result, a mortgage lender can’t hold you responsible for repaying the deficiency–the difference between the unpaid mortgage debt and the foreclosure selling price) following a foreclosure.

In some states, mortgage lenders have the ability to sue homeowners for this difference and receive a deficiency judgment. However, mortgage lenders can’t receive this judgment if your mortgage debt was discharged in bankruptcy court.

Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help your wade through this process and determine a positive solution. Contact him at 813-549-0096.

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.

If you owe a debt to someone and he or she forgives it, that amount could be taxable.

The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 lets taxpayers exclude income from the discharge of debt on their primary residence. Forgiven mortgage debt from a foreclosure and reduced debt through mortgage restriction both qualify for relief.

If your debt was forgiven between 2007 and 2014, up to $2 million of it is eligible for this exclusion. If the discharge of debt is not directly associated with the home’s declining value or the taxpayers financial situation, the exclusion does not apply.

That said, here are a few key points regarding the cancellation of debt.

Cancellation of Debt: What is it?

When you borrow money from a lender, you are not required to include the income from that loan for tax purposes because you are obligated to repay it. But if a lender forgives or cancels that debt, you could be responsible for reporting it. The lender will use a 1099-C form to report the amount of canceled debt to you and the IRS.

Example: If you borrow $20,000 and default on the loan after paying the lender back $5,000 of it, there will be a cancelation debt of $15,000 that could be taxable.

Cancellation of Debt Income: Is it always taxable?

In some circumstances, cancellation of debt income is not taxable. This happens if:

  • The debt is discharged through bankruptcy
  • The debt is canceled when you are insolvent
  • The debt is incurred while you are operating a farm
  • The debt is associated with a non-recourse loan

For more information about where you stand, contact a real estate attorney today.

Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help your wade through this process and determine a positive solution. Contact him at 813-549-0096.

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.

When the housing market crashed in 2007, millions of homeowners faced the risk of foreclosure as a result of declined property values and high unemployment rates. The worst part of the crisis lasted until 2009, and a year later the Obama administration launched the ‘Hardest Hit Fund’ to help those impacted the most.

The housing finance agencies that participate in the program have implemented a number of initiatives that help struggling homeowners recover from the crash. As of today, 18 states and the District of Columbia are taking advantage of the program.

What Kind of Help is Offered Through the ‘Hardest Hit Fund’?

Since each state’s Housing Finance Agency designs and administers its own HHF programs, all of them vary and are specifically tailored to the region they’re meant to help. No matter the variations in the programs by state, the purpose of each is to aid two types of people: unemployed homeowners who hope to remain in their home while searching for work; and homeowners who owe more to their mortgage lender than what their home is worth. The HHF has provided $7.6 billion in relief.

The most common programs associated with the HHF include:

  • Mortgage payment assistance
  • Principal debt reduction
  • Second lien loan elimination
  • Transition assistance

How Long Will the ‘Hardest Hit Fund’ Offer Help to Homeowners?

Each state’s participating Housing Finance Agency has until the end of 2017 to use the funds that were allocated by the government. According to the Department of the Treasury’s second quarter performance summary in 2015, there are 74 active programs helping homeowners across all 19 HFAs, and about $5.1 billion of the allocated funds – or 76 percent of the program cap – have been used for aid.

Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help your wade through this process and determine a positive solution. Contact him at 813-549-0096.

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.

When a house is transferred from the previous owner (the grantor) to the new one (the grantee), it’s done so with a property deed. Although there are many classifications for a deed, most property deeds are considered private. Deeds are also classified according to the type of title warranty that the grantor provides.

General warranty deeds offer a high level of buyer protection, while quitclaim deeds usually provide the least. A quitclaim deed is often used when a property is transferred between family members or to cure a defect on its title. In most cases, the parties involved know each other and accept the risks associated with it.

Since quitclaim deeds offer the lowest level of buyer protection, it’s important to know all of the nuances involved when purchasing a property this way.

Remember That a Quitclaim Deed Offers Minimal Protection

When using this non-warranty deed, the grantor isn’t required to make a promise or offer a warranty concerning the quality of the title. He or she only “remises, releases and quitclaims” his or her interest in the property to its acquiring owner.

Remember to Only Accept a Quitclaim Deed From a Trustworthy Grantor

Since the property’s grantee acquires no right of warranty against its grantor, it’s important to only accept a quitclaim deed from someone you know and trust. For example, when a married couple owns a property and divorces, one of the parties may use a quitclaim deed to eliminate his or her interest in the property. In another instance, a parent may use a quitclaim deed to transfer a property to a child.

Remember That You Can Use a Quitclaim Deed to Fix a Defected Title

In addition to transferring property, a quitclaim deed can be used to fix a defected title. This could include mistakes as simple as a misspelling or a missing signature.

Remember That a Quitclaim Deed Affects Owners and Not the Mortgage

Since the grantee of a quitclaim deed exposes himself or herself to certain risks, it’s often only used in transactions where there isn’t an exchange of money. That’s why quitclaim deeds aren’t usually used if there’s an outstanding mortgage on the property – and if they are, the grantor remains liable for the mortgage after transfer.

Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help your wade through this process and determine a positive solution. Contact him at 813-549-0096.

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.