An explanation of tenant rights when their home is damaged, dangerous or not livable.
Clearly, there have been many homes damaged in the wake of Hurricane Irma. It is very important that tenants know their rights concerning damage to their apartment and how they can get repairs completed by their landlord. If the landlord doesn't do the repairs, then the tenant may be able to leave the property and find a new apartment that is in good condition.
A residential lease may indicate which party will have to pay for repairs to a property. When the lease does not indicate which party or if there is not provision at all then the following applies.
Florida Statute 83.51 requires that landlords comply with all applicable building, housing and health codes. A landlord must maintain the roof, windows, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, foundations and other structural components in good repair and capable of resisting normal forces and loads and the plumbing in reasonable working condition. Homes must have proper locks and keys, screens in good condition, smoke detectors, heat, running water and hot water. Landlord must provide for the extermination of rats, mice, roaches, ants, termites and bedbugs.
Florida Statute 83.201 provides that the tenant must give written notice declaring the premises wholly untenantable (in need of repair) and give the landlord 20 days to make the repair or maintenance. Tenant will withhold rent from the time the property was damaged and written notice was submitted to the landlord. If that period passes without proper repair, tenant may terminate the lease and abandon the property. Seek the advice of an attorney at the beginning of the process to reduce potential liability.
Florida Statute 83.63 provides that if the premises are damaged or destroyed so that enjoyment is substantially impaired, then the tenant may terminate the agreement and vacate the premises.
If the landlord completes the repair, then you may reduce the rent by the amount of proportional loss that you incurred by not having full use of the property.
Thus, we advise seeking the advice of an attorney if your property has damage or is not livable. A lease dispute is a very delicate situation that must be carefully attended to in order to avoid liability in conjunction with the agreement. At The Lions' Den, we will protect your interests and help you maintain a home that is safe and secure for you and your family.
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