Common Landlord / Tenant Issues

Florida Law

Special Message:

"While not covering all rights and responsibilities that pertain to Florida's landlords and their tenants, this web page covers the most-asked-about inquiries we receive on these matters."

- Attorney Mark Lippman

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When attending a free initial consultation with our firm for landlord / tenant matters be sure to bring a copy of the lease in question, and copies of any communiqué between the landlord and the tenant.

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Common Landlord Tenant Issues

Security Deposit Unfairly Reduced

Security deposits are used by landlords to ensure that if a tenant causes damage beyond normal wear and tear that there will be money to fix the damage.

When a tenant moves out, the landlord is entitled to deduct damages to the rental unit from the deposit if necessary. The reduction of a security deposit is big area of contention in the world of landlord / tenant law, and one of the most commonly asked-about matters we deal with at our law office. Often, a tenant feels that a landlord is unfairly deducting from the security deposit.

A landlord may reduce a security deposit due to:

  • Unpaid rent, if the lease allows
  • Damage to the premises caused by the tenant, except for “ordinary wear and tear”
  • Cleaning needed to restore the rental unit to its level of cleanliness at the beginning of the tenancy
  • Restoring or replacing any property taken from the rental unit by the tenant.

According to Florida law, the deadline for landlords to return deposits is 15 days and the deadline for landlords to make a claim on any damage they see is 30 days.

Read Florida's statutes regarding security deposits.

Tenant Causes More Damage than Security Deposit Covers

If the security deposit doesn’t cover all the damages caused by a tenant, a landlord is entitled to sue a tenant to recover the additional money.

Often, a landlord will seek damages small enough to be handled by Small Claims Court, which in Florida is $5,000 or less. Small Claims Court is less complicated and less costly than formal court.

Tenant Facing Unsafe Living Conditions

A landlord has the responsibility to provide safe and hospitable living conditions. If a landlord fails to meet this obligation, Florida law allows a tenant to pay for the repairs themselves and deduct it from the rent payment.

Some living conditions may meet the criteria for withholding rent, including:

  • An infestation of rats, mice, roaches, ants, wood-destroying organisms and bedbugs
  • Insufficiently working electrical outlets
  • Non-functioning facilities for heat during winter, running water and hot water
  • Leaking roofs
  • The presence of mold in the walls, floors or ceilings.

Before withholding rent, Florida law states that the tenant must allow the landlord an opportunity to fix the problem by providing seven days' written notice to the landlord.

Depending on the severity of the conditions, tenants may have the right to move out without notice and without further responsibility for future rent.