Housing Rights Protection
The state of Florida has certain laws in place that enforce landlord and tenant relationships. The landlord is not allowed to discriminate in any way against an individual or a family for any reason. Some examples of this may include race, sex, and age. The tenant is not allowed to damage or in any way cause a disturbance in the landlords premises or property. The laws in the state of Florida are in place to protect both the tenant and the landlord from any possible situation of danger or harm. Both have an obligation when entering into this type of a relationship and those obligations may be enforced by law. The overall goal is to provide a safe and clean environment for families or individuals to live.
Rental Agreements made between the landlord and the tenant will be known as a lease. The lease is what states things like how long the tenant can live in the specified living quarter, how much rent will be and when rent is due. Other things that the lease will state is the specific address of the living space and all persons that will occupy this space.
The lease will specify how long the tenant will live in the house, for example, the lease will go year to year, quarter to quarter, month to month, or even week to week. However long the lease is usually determines when the rent is due. For example, if the lease is month to month, then the rent will be due every month on a specific day.
If the rental agreement does not state the duration of time that the tenant can live in the occupied space, then the duration is determined by the periods of which the rent is payable. For example, if the rent is payable on a monthly basis, then the tenancy is from month to month, if the rent is payable quarterly, then the tenancy is from quarter to quarter. This same concept applies for weekly and annual periods as well.
Before renting any living space, the renter should thoroughly inspect the premises and make sure that it is up to their living standards. If during inspection, anything seems amiss, it should be brought to the landlords attention and then stated in the lease. If the landlord says that they will fix anything, for example carpet or appliances, then that also should be stated in the lease. Anything that is not stated in the lease as already broken or in some other way in need of repair, the tenant will be held liable for. This is why it is very important for the tenant to thoroughly examine the premises and make sure everything is clearly stated in the lease. Another precaution to potential renters is to make sure that the landlord signs the lease and gives you a copy.
If the landlord is going to increase rent, then they must give the tenants a reasonable amount of notice of such changes. Rent increases also should not be made while a tenant is under a lease. The increase should start when the tenant signs the new lease. The tenant should then make sure that they have a current copy of the lease and the specified changes are stated clearly.
Termination of Tenancy
A tenancy at will may be terminated if either party follows this procedure:
A. If the tenancy agreement is from year to year, then there must be at least 3 months' notice given, and no less, before the end of the annual period is up.
B. If the tenancy agreement is from quarter to quarter, then there must be at least 45 days' notice given, and no less, before the end of the quarterly period is up.
C. If the tenancy agreement is from month to month, then there must be at least 15 days' notice given, and no less, before the end of the monthly period is up.
D. If the tenancy agreement is from week to week, then there must be at least 7 days' notice given, and no less, before the end of the weekly period is up.
Some landlords may require a security deposit to be payed upon agreeing to rent out a specified housing unit. This deposit is required to be payed by the tenant to the landlord.
(1) Whenever the landlord receives money from a tenant either as a security deposit or as an advance on rent, the landlord must do one of the following:
A. Put the total amount of money in a separate non-interest account in a Florida bank. This money will be used for the benefit of the tenant or tenants. The landlord is not allowed to intermingle this money with any other funds that the landlord has.
B. Put the total amount of money in a separate interest-bearing account in a Florida bank. This money will be used for the benefit of the tenant or tenants. In this case, the tenant will receive and collect interest in an amount of at least 75% of the annual average interest rate payable on such account, or interest at the rate of 5 percent per year, simple interest, whichever the landlord chooses. The landlord is not allowed to intermingle this money with any other funds that the landlord has access to.
C. Post a surety bond with the clerk of the circuit court in the same county that the living unit is located. The bond must be in the total amount of the security deposit or rent advance that the tenant payed, or $50,000, whichever amount is less. The landlord must also pay the tenant annually interest at the rate of 5% simple interest.
(2) The landlord has 30 days of receipt of the security deposit or advance rent to notify the tenant in writing of how the landlord is holding the money. The landlord must also state the rate of interest, if any, that the tenant will receive and the time of payment that the interest will be payed to the tenant. The written notice should be:
A. Given to the tenant in person or mailed to the tenant.
B. State the name and address of the bank where the money is being held.
If the landlord changes anything after giving the tenant this notice, for example the landlord switches banks, then the landlord has 30 days to give the tenant an updated written notice.
When the tenant vacates the premises, then the landlord has 15 days to return the security deposit along with any interest owed to the tenant.
The landlord has certain obligations when renting out a dwelling unit. The landlord must always follow the applicable building, housing, and health code requirements. In the instance that there are no building, housing, or health codes in effect, the landlord must do the following: maintain the roofs, windows, doors, screens, steps, floors, porches, exterior walls, foundations, and all other structural components. All of this must be kept in good repair and able to withstand normal wear and tear. In addition to this, the landlord is also responsible for keeping the plumbing in reasonable working condition.
The landlord is also responsible for the extermination of rats, roaches, mice, ants, bedbugs, and any wood destroying organisms. In the case that the tenant must temporarily vacate the premises, the landlord must give written notice of such vacation. The tenant will not be required to leave for longer than 4 days, when given 7 days' written notice.
Other responsibilities that the landlord has include maintaining locks and keys. The landlord is also responsible for keeping a clean and safe environment in all common areas. The removal of garbage in the outside trash bins also are the responsibility of the landlord.
The landlord is also obligated to maintain the facilities for heat during winter, running water, and hot water. Installing working smoke detectors that detect visible and invisible particles is also required.
The landlord is not at any time allowed to withhold services from a tenant as an act of rebellion. An example of this could include withholding hot water or heat. This is not allowed and will be enforced by the law if such actions occur.
Any person who is under an agreement to rent out a specified unit is referred to as a tenant. The tenant is thereby under certain obligations upon entering into a rental agreement. The tenant must comply with all obligations that are stated in the building, housing, and health codes.
The tenant is required to keep the premises that he or she occupies clean and sanitary. When the garbage is being removed from off the premises, it must be done in a clean and sanitary way. All plumbing fixtures must also be kept clean and sanitary. The tenant is required to use and operate all appliances in a reasonable manner. This includes electrical, plumbing, ventilating, heating, air conditioning, elevators, and all other facilities and appliances.
Another obligation that the tenant is under when signing a rental agreement would be to not destroy the premises in any way. The tenant is not allowed to damage, deface, impair, or remove any part of the premises or property that belongs to the landlord.
The tenants are also expected to conduct themselves in a manner that is not disturbing to the neighbors, or in any way a breach of the peace. If the tenant does not practice and respect the obligations that are expected of them then they may be facing an eviction notice from the landlord.
Upkeep and Repairs
The landlord and the tenant both have their responsibilities involved with upkeep and repairs. The landlord is required to keep all appliances in working condition, and the tenant is required to keep the premises clean and sanitary.
Withholding Rent for Repairs
If the tenant files a complaint to the landlord about a repair that needs to be taken care of and the landlord ignores it, then the tenant may withhold rent in order to fix what needs repaired. This should only happen in the most severe cases and the tenant should always save the receipt of the repair that was accomplished.
Insurance is a safe and good thing for the tenant to have. If it is not stated in the rental agreement then the tenant does not have to carry renters insurance.
Some landlords may prohibit pets. Make sure that the rental agreement clearly states if the tenant is allowed any pets. Make sure that it states what kind of pets and how many are allowed. The tenant is under obligation to take proper care of any pets that they have. This includes not allowing the pet to be a disturbance to the surrounding neighbors.
Right of Entry
The tenant is not allowed to unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter into the premises. The tenant must let the landlord in from time to time to do inspections, repairs, alterations, or improvements. The landlord may also enter the premises in order to show it to perspective buyers, tenants, workers, or contractors.
The landlord is allowed to enter the dwelling unit at any time for the reasons of protecting or preserving the premises. The landlord is required to give the tenant reasonable notice and to enter at a reasonable time when they need to enter for the purpose of preserving or protecting the premises. "Reasonable notice" is considered to be at least 12 hours prior to entry. "Reasonable time" is considered to be between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
In summary, the landlord is allowed to enter the premises under the following circumstances:
1. The tenant gives their consent
2. In case of an emergency
3. When the tenant unreasonably withholds their consent; or
4. If the tenant has been absent for a period of time that is equal to one-half the time for periodic rental payments. If the rent has been payed on time and the tenant has given the landlord notice that they will be gone, then the landlord may only enter the premises with the tenants consent, in case of an emergency, or to protect or preserve the premises.
Under no circumstances is the landlord allowed to abuse their rights of entry or use it to harass the tenant.
The tenant may be in danger of an eviction notice if they do not uphold their obligations agreed upon in the rental agreement. A few examples of the tenant receiving an eviction notice include but is not limited to:
1. The tenant damages or somehow destructs the premises or property.
2. The tenant intentionally misuses the landlord's property.
3. The tenant causes unreasonable disturbances.
In these cases the landlord does reserve the right to terminate the rental agreement. The tenant would have at least 7 days from the date of notice to vacate the premises.
Another reason that a tenant may be in danger of receiving an eviction notice would be if they fail to pay the rent that is due, and the default continues for 3 days after receiving a written demand by the landlord for payment of the rent that is due, or the possession of the property. The 3 days exclude Saturday, Sunday, and legal holidays. Legal holidays are only holidays that are court-observed.
When the landlord is giving written notice of eviction the notice must be delivered by mail, or delivered in person to the tenant. If the tenant is not in the premises then a copy should be left at the residence.
The amount of time that the notice must give for the tenant to vacate the premises varies depending on the specified duration in the rental agreement. This means that if the tenant has signed a lease that is year to year, then the landlord must give 60 days' notice. If the lease is quarter to quarter, then the notice must give at least 30 days' to vacate. If the lease is month to month, then the tenant should receive no less than 15 days' notice. If the tenancy is from week to week then the notice must give at least 7 days' to vacate the premises.
The landlord does not reserve the right to forcefully obtain possession of the premises and property. If the tenant refuses to vacate the premises then the landlord may file a complaint. It is then up to the law, for example the sheriff, to make the tenant vacate the premises. The landlord may have an attorney that they use to help them gain possession of the premises.
Settlement of Disputes
If either the tenant or the landlord has a problem that is not able to be solved between the two, then they are allowed to bring the issue to the county or circuit court. The court then will hear both sides and make a decision as to what should be done in each specific case.