Call Us Today! 561-666-3443
Legal Advocates, PLLC
2424 N. Federal Highway, Suite 411
Boca Raton, FL 33431

Landlord/Tenant Law

The attorneys at Legal Advocates, PLLC are knowledgeable and experienced in all landlord-tenant legal issues.  Our attorneys are experienced in both the transactional aspects of this area of practice, as well as the litigation aspects, should disputes arise.  Disputes may sometimes be resolved with a simple letter written by a knowledgeable attorney, and sometimes they require litigation.  In either situation, it is always best to resolve disputes with the help and guidance of an experienced landlord-tenant attorney.

Legal Advocates, PLLC handles all aspects of landlord-tenant law

Landlord-tenant law regulates the relationships between property owners and tenants, and imposes certain duties on both parties.  Florida’s landlord-tenant law varies in residential and commercial leases.

Florida landlord-tenant law can appear both broad and complex. Most renters and landlords are aware that there are laws dealing with landlord-tenant relationships and that they have certain rights when they are involved in a dispute; however, they often don’t know those rights or the proper procedures to follow during such a dispute.

Disputes between landlords and tenants can involve a wide range of issues. For example, a tenant may wish to terminate a lease or withhold rent due to a landlord’s noncompliance with the rental agreement or the law, or a landlord may want to terminate a lease or evict a tenant for the tenant’s noncompliance with the rental agreement or the law, or there may be a dispute regarding the security deposit.

Prohibited Acts By A Landlord

In Florida, landlords are prohibited from certain actions. For instance, a landlord cannot just throw out a tenant, or order a tenant to leave the rented premises, only a judge can order a tenant evicted from the rented premise. Moreover, Florida law does not allow a landlord to force a tenant out through particular actions, such as: shutting off the utilities or interrupting service of water, heat, light, electricity, gas, elevator, garbage collection, or refrigeration (even if that service is under the control of the landlord or the landlord makes payment); changing the locks or using a device that denies the tenant access; removing the outside doors, locks, roof, walls or windows (except for purposes of maintenance, repair or replacement); and removing the tenant’s personal property from the rented residence.

Prohibited Acts By A Tenant

Tenants are likewise prohibited from certain actions. Importantly, unless the lease agreement contains a contrary provision, a tenant may not just withhold rent or terminate the lease because the tenant has a dispute with the landlord. The tenant must first give the landlord notice and an opportunity to remedy the situation. Florida law dictates the manner and procedure the tenant must follow before withholding rent or terminating a lease. Otherwise, if the tenant simply withholds rent or abandons the rented premises, the landlord can file an eviction against the tenant or initiate legal proceedings against the tenant for monetary damages.

Security Deposit Disputes

In disputes involving a security deposit, Florida law dictates the procedures and timelines regarding the return of a security deposit or a landlord’s intent to keep part or all of a security deposit. After the lease terminates and the tenant moves out, the landlord must return the deposit within 15 days if the landlord does not intend to impose a claim on the security deposit. If the landlord intends to impose a claim on the deposit, the landlord must state in writing by certified mail to the tenant’s last known mailing address within 30 days explaining why the landlord is keeping a portion of or all of the deposit. If the notice is not sent as required within the 30-day period, the landlord forfeits the right to impose a claim upon the deposit.

Unless the tenant objects to the landlord’s claim on the deposit within 15 days after receipt of the landlord’s notice of intention to impose a claim, the landlord may then deduct the amount of his or her claim and shall remit the balance of the deposit to the tenant within 30 days. If the tenant objects to the landlord’s claim, the tenant should first notify the landlord in writing by certified mail that the tenant objects to the landlord’s claim on the security deposit. The tenant may then file a complaint with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services or institute an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to determine the landlord’s right to the security deposit.

Evictions

When a landlord is attempting to evict a tenant, Florida law dictates specific steps and procedures, as well as exact timelines, which both the landlord and tenant must follow and abide. If the landlord fails to correctly follow the steps and procedures, the eviction may be dismissed by the court. Likewise, if the tenant does not properly follow the procedures and abide by the timelines, the court may find the tenant in default and grant the eviction.

If you are served with an eviction complaint or if one is posted on your door, it is essential that you act quickly and seek the advice of counsel. Florida law requires that all defenses in law or fact shall be contained in the defendant’s answer which shall be filed within 5 days after service of process. Failure to file an answer and the necessary motions could result in the Court immediately entering a default against you, entering judgment in favor of the landlord, and issuing a writ to the Sheriff to remove any tenants along with their possessions from the property. Thus, time is of the essence.

For all these reasons, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side who knows and understands the complexity of Florida landlord-tenant law to protect your rights!

There are certain responsibilities that apply to each party as outlined by law. The landlord and tenant share many of the responsibilities. Maintenance of the premises is a good example.

The Landlord's Responsibilities

The landlord’s responsibilities will depend on the type of rental space. The landlord of a dwelling unit at all times during the tenancy shall:

  • Comply with the requirements of applicable building, housing and health codes; or
  • Where there is no applicable building, housing or health codes; maintain the roof, windows, screens, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, foundations and all other structural components in good repair and capable of resisting normal forces and loads.
  • Keep the plumbing in reasonably good working condition.
  • The landlord’s obligations may be altered or modified in writing with respect to a single-family dwelling or duplex.

In addition to providing the above, the landlord of a dwelling unit other than a single-family home or duplex shall, at all times of the tenancy, make reasonable provisions for:

  • Extermination of rats, mice, ants and wood destroying organisms and bed bugs.
  • Locks and keys.
  • Clean and safe conditions of common areas.
  • Garbage removal and outside receptacles.
  • Functioning facilities for heat during winter, running water and hot water.
  • If the dwelling is a single-family home or duplex, a working smoke detection device.

This does not mean that the landlord is obligated to pay for utilities, water, fuel or garbage removal, although he/she may choose to. Other provisions relevant to a rental agreement may also be altered in writing.

The Tenant's Responsibilities

A tenant, at all times during the tenancy shall:

  • Comply with all building, housing and health codes.
  • Keep the dwelling clean and sanitary.
  • Remove garbage from the dwelling in a clean and sanitary manner.
  • Keep plumbing fixtures clean, sanitary and in repair.
  • Not destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the premises or property belonging to the landlord, nor permit any person to do so.
  • Conduct him/herself, and require other persons on the premises with his/her consent, to conduct themselves in a manner that does not unreasonably disturb the tenant’s neighbors or constitute a breach of the peace.
  • Use and operate in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators.

Renting a house, apartment or business space to someone creates a legal relationship between the property owner and the tenant.  The law imposes rights and responsibilities for both parties, and a breach of either may give rise to a legal cause of action.  When a party to a lease fails to live up to their responsibilities or violates the others’ rights, the aggrieved party may be able to bring a lawsuit to rectify the situation.  The law that governs the relationship between landlords and tenants can be extremely complicated, and anyone having a dispute with a landlord or tenant should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

We are local South Florida attorneys that practice exclusively in Palm Beach and Broward counties. Areas we serve include:

Boca Raton

Boynton Beach

Coral Springs

Dania Beach

Davie

Deerfield Beach

Delray Beach

Fort Lauderdale

Greenacres

Hollywood

Jupiter

Lake Worth

              Loxahatchee             

Margate

Miramar

Palm Beach Gardens

Plantation

Pompano Beach

Rivera Beach

Royal Palm Beach

Sunrise

Wellington

 

 

When you call Legal Advocates, PLLC we will immediately schedule a consultation to personally meet with one of our attorneys to review your case and discuss the options you may have.

At Legal Advocates, PLLC we keep our clients abreast of every step of the foreclosure process.

If you are involved in a landlord-tenant dispute, contact Legal Advocates, PLLC today at (561) 666-3443 for a free consultation to find out how we can help. You can also email us at info@inyourinterest.net and member of our staff will contact you promptly. Our office is conveniently located just minutes from I-95 on Federal Highway between Spanish River Road and Glades Road in Boca Raton. Upon request, we also have alternative satellite office locations throughout Palm Beach and Broward County where our attorneys can arrange to meet you and discuss your case.