Do You Have to Pay Rent if Your Rental Needs Repairs?
According to Florida’s housing authority, landlords must keep their rental properties in livable conditions, and if they do not, tenants can withhold their monthly rent payments. However, it is not as cut and dry as stopping paying rent. The tenant is responsible for providing proper notification about the violation and giving the landlord seven days to perform repairs. If not fixed, they then have the right to withhold rent.
When considering renting, it is best to speak with a landlord tenant attorney to learn more about your rights as a tenant. The attorneys at Ferrer Law Group have experience with tenants wanting to learn more about Florida withholding rent laws. Call our office today to schedule a consultation to learn more about landlord-tenant laws in Florida.
When Can You Withhold Your Monthly Rent Payment
Tenants in Florida have the right to withhold rent payment if their landlord violates local housing regulations and the rental home desperately needs repairs. However, it is not as simple as not dropping off the rent check. There are several factors to consider and things to do before entertaining the idea of withholding a rent payment.
If the rental home is no longer meeting the listed requirements set forth by Florida law, the landlord is required to fix it. However, if the landlord refuses to make the necessary repairs or continues to ignore the tenant’s requests, then the tenant is legally allowed to withhold rent.
Several factors must occur for the tenant to be allowed to stop rent payments, including:
- Tenants must be current on all previous rent payments when the repairs were requested.
- Tenants must notify the landlord of the repairs needed in writing or via the designated maintenance request process outlined in the lease agreement.
- Tenants must allow the landlord plenty of time (seven days, according to Florida law) to make changes or discuss options with the tenant.
- Tenants must notify their landlord in writing they plan to withhold their next rent payment unless the issues are resolved. (This must be sent 12 days before the next rent payment is due.)
- If tenants are unsure of the process to withhold rent while waiting for rental home repairs to be completed, they may want to speak with a landlord tenant lawyer to discuss their options and learn more about Florida rental home laws.
Repairs: Minor and Major
Before withholding rent, tenants must differentiate between minor and major repairs. It is not likely for the tenant to be allowed to withhold rent for minor rental home repairs, such as anything non-hazardous to those in the home, small areas needing repainting, or trimming back a tree that is not blocking a walkway or impeding on local utilities. Though these items still need to be taken care of by the landlord, they are neither life-threatening nor negatively impacting the tenant’s quality of life.
Major repairs that do require immediate attention include plumbing leaks, toilet problems, black mold, and anything that impacts the health and safety of those in the home. With proper notification and documentation, in these situations, the tenant might be able to withhold rent until the landlord corrects the problem.
Warranty of Habitability
In Florida, landlords are responsible for providing a warranty of habitability for all their rental properties. Rental properties must meet current code and housing authority requirements and provide tenants with a safe and healthy environment. A warranty of habitability must include pest extermination, maintenance of keys and locks, safe and clean common areas, garbage disposal methods, and functioning heat, hot water, and running water.
How a Landlord Tenant Lawyer Can Help
An attorney can help assess the problem, determine if the landlord violates Florida housing codes, and choose the best action. For example, if you need to withhold rent, the attorney can help provide the landlord with proper notification and demand the issues be corrected. If the landlord still does not make the requested repairs, the attorney can file a complaint with the local housing authority and possibly sue the landlord on behalf of the tenant.
If you still have questions about Florida tenant rights to withhold rent, contact the attorneys at Ferrer Law Group. Our dedicated attorneys can help provide you with the information needed to help you stand up for your tenant rights in Florida. Call our office today to schedule an appointment with a tenant-landlord attorney.
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