In Miami, is it legal to disconnect the water on tenant’s occupied properties?

I have an empty property in foreclosure in the city of Miami with average water bills for the last 5 years of about $50 which i could manage. All of a sudden without leaks or remodeling i got a $2000 followed by $ 6000. I went to the city several times and followed their instructions to test the facility; I was never told I needed a city certified plumber. A plumber inspected the property in and out over a period of several months and never found any problem. I requested a court day and lost because my witness was not a city certified plumber. A $ 8500 lien was placed on the property. The city cut off the water in my 4 other tenant occupied properties in Miami with water payments up to date until i pay the 8500 lien. Tenants are now facing hygienic and health problems. Is it legal ?

Miami, FL -

Attorney Answers (3)

Barbara Billiot Stage

Barbara Billiot Stage

Residential Real Estate Lawyer - Orlando, FL
Answered

You will need to consult a local attorney who is familiar with Miami's ordinances, but I would think the city's actions against you, as a property owner, are legal. The city is not a landlord to your tenants, so the state law prohibiting landlords from discontinuing utilities to tenants does not apply.

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Jed R Prest

Jed R Prest

Real Estate Attorney - Orlando, FL
Answered

You do need to review with this with an attorney. There are number of questions are not really included in your facts. Are the tenants billed directly by the utility or do you provide water service are part of the rent? If you provide the water service as part of the rent and it is cut off because you have not paid the lien, then your are exposing yourself to action by the tenants.

Leonard Peter Cabral

Leonard Peter Cabral

Landlord / Tenant Lawyer - Sanford, FL
Answered

The landlord liable if the landlord is directly or indirectly responsible for the disconnection of any utility (including non-payment of services). In other words the state law does apply.
The tenants have an excellent claim against you for constructive eviction. Get an attorney and fight the water bill and the lien.

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