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What does it mean for a landlord to maintain a home "so as to discourage the harboring & breeding of insects, rodents & vermin?"

Gainesville, FL |

Florida law does not require me to provide pest control on a single family home, but
City of Gainesville Code of Ordinances Sec. 13-171 states: All premises shall be maintained so as to discourage the harboring & breeding of insects, rodents & vermin.

What does this mean? Landlords know the tenants create the roach problem. I gave my last tenants a pest-free house. They got roaches. While skipping out on last 2 months rent, they called Codes, who invoked this ordinance. I paid $330 for cleaning, & $80 on pest control.

New tenants moved in, who all 3 references said were filthy, and lo & behold, the house is filthy. Tenants complained 1st week about roaches, I sent pest control back. A month later, "roaches are getting worse, over 100 in cabinets," they say.

What do I do?

I know it is tempting to criticize my tenant screening, but thank you in advance for resisting the temptation, as there are many factors involved in tenant approval that are outside the limited point of this question and only known to the person in my moccasins.

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Attorney answers 1


As you have stated Florida's State statutes do not expressly require you to provide pest control, although it may fall under the habitability requirement if the landlord's actions contribute (or potentially another tenant in a multi-tenant building) to conditions that foster the pests.

The City's Code as you have discovered apply to the owner of the property. It seems the prior tenants were aware of this when they called code enforcement. It would seem the best option for you is to plan on regular inspection and treatment at your expense, perhaps building the cost into your rental amount.

I believe that depending on the language of your lease the failure of the tenant to keep the property in a condition that discourages the pests and therefore is in violation of a city ordinance, and would likely be a breach of the lease permitting you to request the cure the problem or face a potential termination and potentially eviction.

Good luck, as you know there are always some challanges facing you as a landlord.

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