I found out in March 2018 that our home we were renting had mold. We sent out a 7 Day Notice with proof of Mold Certificate Inpsection via Certified Mail to the Landlord. Rent was withheld for the months of April and May. Property Manager is charging us Late Fees for the 2 months Rent was withheld. First of all we weren't LATE paying rent. We WITHHELD rent due to the discovery of Mold. So my question is...are we responsible for Late Fees during the months rent was withheld?
But you cannot withhold rent so to begin with you were wrong and lucky to not have been evicted. your sole remedy after 7 day notice was to break the lease and move out on day 8. Statute 83.56: "If the landlord materially fails to comply with s. 83.51(1) or material provisions of the rental agreement within 7 days after delivery of written notice by the tenant specifying the noncompliance and indicating the intention of the tenant to terminate the rental agreement by reason thereof, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement."
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Withholding the rent and not paying the rent is the same thing. There are laws to set forth the correct procedures that are designed to protect not only the tenant but also the landlord.
Late fees? Yikes! You are lucky you weren't served with an eviction complaint (perhaps you will yet) There is generally NO right to "withhold" rent in this State. There is a narrow exception for "material noncompliance" with code; but I am not sure you fit in that very small box, not at all likely. In any event, "mold" is quite common in Florida; and it would be your burden in court to PROVE that the mold is TOXIC; and that is "cause" is from something that the LL (not you) is obligated to do under the Lease (which we can't review here on line). These are not easy things to do. And the materiality of the infestation will be undermined by the fact they you appear to have lived IN the premises despite the existence of the mold.
As for the mold, not sure what a "Mold Certificate Inspection" is; but there are a lot of con-men out there "certifying" this and that; bit if this wasn't part of a report issued by a State-licensed mold assessor (i.e., the key being "state licensed, not "certified" - again, whatever that means), you could be in some trouble.
Then again, if the mold IS toxic, or, if the landlord here just decided the fight wasn't worth it, and gave you a break on those two months rent (my guess), then of course (again, depending on the lease terms) it's not likely appropriate to charge "late fees."
But there's enough "guessing" and "IFS" in here to suggest you either pay - or retain counsel, as it appears you could be at risk here.
Hope this helps.
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