What are my Tenants' Rights in Florida?
EvictionsFirst review the Three Day Notice attached to the summons and complaint. Did the landlord list a P.O. Box instead of a physical address for you to make payment? Is there a final date for you to make payment and not just 'within three business days'? Does the amount claimed include late fees? These are all possible reasons to have the eviction action dismissed. If you find any of the problems listed above, you must file a response with the Court within five business days of service, and state the reason why you feel the action should be dismissed.
You should find an attorney as quickly as possible. Try www.Avvo.com to find landlord-tenant lawyers. Be sure to find someone with experience handling these cases and that represents tenants. There are some tenants' attorneys that will represent you for a small fee and seek the balance of their fees from the landlord if they are successful in defending you.
RepairsWhen repairs are necessary and you choose to stop paying rent until the problem is fixed, many judges will not want to hear about the problems you have unless you can show that you have followed the law. What does the law require? That you gave notice to the landlord that you will stop paying rent until he fixes the problem. The statute calls for seven days notice. My recommendation is to prepare a letter stating the problems that need to be repaired in your rented property and give the landlord seven days to fix the problem or you will either stop paying rent or you will terminate the lease and move out. Send the letter by certified mail so that you can prove the letter was sent to the landlord.
Security DepositAfter you have moved out of the rented property, even if you have been evicted, the landlord must follow the statutory procedure to claim your security deposit. If thirty days have past and you have not received a notice from your landlord claiming the deposit, then you should contact an attorney to recover it. If you feel comfortable pursuing a legal matter in small claims court you can do it yourself, but you will find that there are attorneys that will take your case without any up front payment. The attorney will be paid by the landlord after the case is over if you win. The applicable section of the Florida Statutes is Section 83.49(3).