Residential tenancy in Florida is governed by the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act and the language that has been used in the lease agreement. These two, together, define the duties of a landlord to the tenant and define the legal rights of a residential tenant. A complication usually arises when a landlord is either ignorant or unaware of their duties towards the tenant. In such a case, the landlord must bear the costs of many expenses. Hence, it is in the best interests of the property owner to be aware of these regulations and the duties to avoid any legal disputes in the future. A real estate lawyer can be a great way to understand these laws too.
7 Tenants’ Rights in Florida that Landlords & Renters Must Know
If you are a tenant and need to understand these rights, here is a quick guide to understanding them:
1. Right to Have Residence in Reasonable Condition and Code Compliant
Residential landlords are mandated to keep their property in a condition that complies with the specifications of the building and regional health codes. If they fail to do so, a tenant can hold them responsible for the lapse under what is known as the warranty of habitability.
However, if the rental space is a family home or a duplex, the landlord can make alterations in the lease agreement. These changes must be agreed upon by the tenant before they take on the property on rent. You can refer to Florida Statute 83.51 or check with a real estate lawyer to understand this better.
2. Right to Security Deposit without Statutory Interest
The Florida Statute 83.49(1) pertains to the handling, safeguarding, and return of a tenant’s security deposit. The tenant has the right to put their security deposit in a separate interest-bearing or non-interest-bearing bank account. The landlord should keep it separately without mingling it with other amounts and cannot use the money in any way. If you are in the middle of a lawsuit, you can connect with an estate planning law firm to help you understand the legalities.
3. Right to Prompt Return of the Security Deposit
The law also mandates that a landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant no more than 15 days after them vacating the property. The tenant is entitled to receive the interest on the amount unless specified otherwise in the lease agreement.
If the landlord wants to deduct any amount from the security deposit, they must intimate the tenant in advance through a notice. The format and details of this notification are available in Florida Statute 83.49. You can connect with an estate planning law firm to know more about this.
4. Right to Notice in Writing from the Landlord
If the landlord wishes to make the tenant vacate their premises, they must serve a written notice as per the instructions under Florida Statute 83.56 (3) (4). The Statute specifies some guidelines that need to be met, failing which it will not be legally considered to be a proper and effective notice.
For instance, the stipulations under this Statute mandate the landlord to deliver the notice via mail or by delivering a copy to the property. It also specifies that three days should pass between the date of the notice and the filing of a lawsuit against the tenant by the landlord. Saturdays, Sundays, and other legal holidays are not considered.
Florida Statute 83.53 titled ‘Landlord’s Access to the Dwelling Unit’ allows the landlord to inspect the premises after 12 hours of serving the notice period and identify damages. However, they cannot enter the premises to harass the tenant.
5. Right to Proper Service of Any Lawsuit by the Landlord
A tenant has the right to proper service in case the landlord decides to sue them. However, the service of the lawsuit must follow the stipulations under the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.070 and Form 1.902.
As per the law, a tenant has the right to proper service both in the case of an eviction lawsuit and a lawsuit filed to recover unpaid rent or damages. If you are in a situation, you can consult a real estate lawyer to help you.
6. Right to Attorney’s Fees, Court Costs, and Damages
Under Florida Statute 83.48, a tenant is entitled to attorney’s fees, court costs, and damages in case of a lawsuit filed by the tenant. Additionally, if the tenant sues for violation of their rights and they win, the landlord must pay for both reasonable court costs and the tenant’s legal fees.
7. Reduction of Rent and Remain in the Property Until Court Orders
Florida’s laws provide the tenant with rights in defending any lawsuit filed by the landlord. For instance, the tenant has 5-20 days to respond to the file an answer to the complaint. Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays are not counted towards the deadline.
If you need expert advice on real estate laws, you can reach out to Hale Law – the most trusted name to find real estate lawyers in Cape Coral and the surrounding areas.
Let Us Help You With Your Tenant Rights
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