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Renters Rights in Florida for Repairs

Are You a Florida Tenant? Protect Your Legal Rights!

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Most of the time you and your landlord probably get along just fine. You pay the rent, and he ensures that you have a habitable place to live.

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evict a roommate in florida

But what happens when something goes wrong? The heater stops heating or the plumbing backs up? This is when things can get dicey, but you do have legal protections as a renter.

Landlord/tenant rights and responsibilities are stipulated in federal, state and local law, so they can vary.

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Even so, most jurisdictions have the same basic renter's rights protections. In Florida, what are these protections?

Your Right to a Habitable Home

The state of Florida has a Warranty of Habitability, meaning that tenants are guaranteed a livable home without dangerous conditions or serious hazards. It means that your home must be a safe, clean place to live. It must have heat, water, plumbing and utilities. The windows and doors must also work propertly. Your landlord must make any necessary repairs to keep your home in reasonable condition while you are a tenant.

Repairs

For your landlord to make repairs, he must first know about what needs repairing. This means that you must inform him. Do this in writing and send the letter via certified mail so that you have proof he received it. Keep a copy.

From that point, your landlord has seven days to correct the issue. If he does not, then you can withhold rent until he makes the repairs. There are rules to follow, however. Talk to an attorney before you take this drastic step because withholding rent can be grounds for eviction if done incorrectly.

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Your Right to Privacy

Florida law says that a landlord has a right to entry, but that a tenant also has a right to privacy.

As a result, your landlord must have a valid reason to enter your home and he cannot enter without notice. How much notice he must give varies by state.

Exceptions include emergencies and if you have given your landlord prior permission to enter.

Your Right to Quiet Enjoyment

As a Florida tenant, you have the right to quiet, undisturbed use and enjoyment of your home.

This means that you have the right to have a home free from recurring disruptions or disturbances, such as odd noises, harassing texts or phone calls, particularly from your landlord.

Your renter's rights also include the landlord making repairs in a timely fashion and not dragging them out as a way to harass or intimidate you.

Not all jurisdictions have explicit laws regarding the quiet enjoyment of your home. Neither do all leases.

Most courts, though, recognize this implied warranty or covenant and enforce the idea that you have the right to live undisturbed.

Your Right to Fair Housing

Federal law states that you can not be discriminated against based on race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, family status or mental/physical disability.

This means that your landlord cannot decide to evict you because you change your religion to one he does not like. He cannot kick you out if you become pregnant or disabled.

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Your Right to Your Security Deposit

In most cases, you pay the landlord a security deposit to protect him against damage you may cause to the property.

Florida specifies how long a landlord has to return your deposit after you vacate the property. The state also directs your landlord to give you an itemized statement about how your deposit has been used for cleaning, repairs, back rent and other charges, such as unpaid utility or cable bills.

The best way to get your security deposit back without hassle is to be a mindful tenant. Do not damage the home and keep it clean. Do a thorough cleaning just before you move out so your landlord does not have to hire a cleaning service (and charge you for it).

Your Eviction Rights

In general, your landlord has the right to evict you if you breach the contract you signed when you moved into his property.

For example, if your lease says that you are not allowed to have pets and you adopt a dog to live with you, then you have breached your contract and the landlord has grounds to evict you.

This does not mean, though, that he can enter your home and demand that you leave within the hour.

Florida spells out the eviction process. You have the renter's right to receive a formal eviction notice that gives you time to fix the stated problem.

So if you are behind on rent, the landlord must give you time to make a payment. If he is angry about the dog, then he must give you time to find it a home.

If you do not fix the problem in the time allowed, then the landlord can file eviction papers with the court. You will have the opportunity to defend yourself in front of a judge.

If you lose in court, then not only will you be evicted from your home, the judge may also order that you pay your landlord's legal fees.

Your Right to a Legal Lease

No lease supersedes local, state or federal law. In other words, the law is the final word, not the lease.

Know Your Tenant Responsibilities

As a Florida tenant you do have legal rights, but it is also important to understand your responsibilities.

Abide by the Terms of Your Lease

Your lease is a legal contract. When you sign it, you are agreeing to its terms. If you do not like the terms, then it is probably not a good idea to sign the lease in the first place.

If you follow the terms of your lease - unless the lease contains illegal clauses - then the chance of you and your landlord butting heads is lessened, making life easier for everyone.

Pay Your Rent

The bottom line is that unless you have made other legal arrangements with your landlord or unless you are withholding rent in exchange for repairs, you must pay your rent. Even if you are withholding rent because your landlord will not make repairs, you must follow specific rules. No court will let you stay in a property if you do not pay the rent according to the lease terms or for a legally valid reason.

End the Lease as the Law Requires

Just as the landlord must give you time before he begins eviction proceedings, you must let your landlord know when you plan to vacate the property. This is usually done with a written 30 days' notice.

Get Help

The most common Florida landlord disputes involve unpaid rent, repair issues, property damage, security deposits and eviction. If you cannot come to terms with your landlord on your own and need legal help enforcing your rights, then it is time to talk to an experienced Florida landlord-tenant attorney.

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