When you are having a dispute with either a tenant or landlord, it’s time to call your attorney . . . Johnny Devine.
Florida Tenant/Landlord law can appear both broad and complex. Most renters and landlords are aware there are laws dealing with tenant-landlord 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 tenants and landlords 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.
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 residence — only a judge can order a tenant evicted from the rented residence. 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.
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 an opportunity to remedy the situation. Florida law dictates the manner and procedure the tenant should follow before withholding rent or terminating a lease. Otherwise, if the tenant simply withholds rent or abandons the rented residence, the landlord can file an eviction against the tenant or initiate legal proceedings against the tenant for monetary damages.
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 to decide the landlord’s right to the security deposit.
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. Johnny Devine has assisted a multitude of tenants and landlords over the years in eviction proceedings.
For all these reasons, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side who knows and understands the complexity of Florida Tenant/Landlord law to protect your rights! Johnny Devine has extensive experience in tenant/landlord cases in Florida.
Remember, if you are having a dispute with either a tenant or landlord, you can call your attorney . . . Johnny Devine!