Tenant Landlord Disputes FAQ
Just over one-third of Florida households, or about 33.8%, rent rather than own their homes. The relationship between landlords and tenants can be complex and at Flaxman Law Group our team regularly hears from tenants who are seeking legal action. We’ve compiled the questions we get asked most often, but if you need legal help with a dispute, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free, no obligation case consultation.
- What are Tenant Landlord Disputes?
- What are Common Causes of Tenant Landlord Disputes?
- Can I Sue My Landlord?
- How Do I File a Complaint?
- What are Tenant and Landlord Rights in Florida?
- When Can a Tenant Be Evicted?
- What Can Do If I Am Involved in a Tenant Landlord Dispute?
Tenants and landlords usually sign a lease, whether someone is renting a house, condo, townhouse, apartment, or another type of property in Florida. Disputes, however, can occur when a disagreement arises that cannot easily be resolved by the terms of the lease.
Disputes between landlords and tenants can occur for any number of reasons, but the most common causes are:
- Property damage
- Violation of the terms of the lease
- Injury on the premises
- Nonpayment of rent
- Poorly maintained or uninhabitable premises
- Lack of necessary or requested repairs
- Frequent complaints from neighbors
It is possible to sue a landlord, especially if a landlord has violated the terms of the lease or the statutes which govern tenant-landlord agreements. For example, if a landlord has failed to maintain an inhabitable premises and a rented home is filled with mold, pests, and other dangers and there have been delays in repairs, a tenant may have a claim. A tenant may also have a claim if they have suffered injuries or losses due to a landlord’s negligence.
However, before pursuing a legal claim, many landlords and tenants seek arbitration and negotiation, which allows them to resolve a situation in a mutually beneficial way without getting courts involved.
There are a few options for filing a complaint:
- You can file a complaint with the Property Management Company, if your landlord works for one.
- You may be able to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
- You may be able to file a complaint with The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
- Depending on the situation, you may be able to file a complaint with your city’s Construction Services Division or Planning and Development department.
- If your landlord is harassing you or using unfair collection practices, you may have a claim with the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA).
- If you have suffered injury or financial loss, you may be able to file a civil claim as well.
Deciding where and how to file a complaint can be complex. Where you file your complaint depends in part on the issue at hand. For example, if you are facing discrimination in housing, you may want to file a complaint with the city. If your landlord has defrauded you, the BBB or HUD may be the right avenue. In addition to filing a complaint you may wish to pursue a legal claim to seek compensation for any losses you have suffered. You may wish to speak with an attorney, like the team at Flaxman Law Group, to determine when and how to file a complaint and to determine whether you may have a claim.
Your lease agreement sets out your obligations as a landlord or tenant, but even if you don’t have a lease if you are renting in Florida, you have rights under the Florida Statutes at Part II, Chapter 83 (the Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act). Under this act, tenants have a number of rights, including:
- The legal use of their rental property.
- The right to possess their rented home peacefully and privately.
- The right to have security deposits, if any were requested, be returned within 15 days of vacating the home.
- The right to not be subject to unreasonable entrance by the landlord.
- The right to withhold rent, but only in specific situations.
- A property that is fit for habitation.
Landlords also have rights under Florida laws. They have the right to expect rent to be paid on time, with a few exceptions. They also have protections against tenants who use rental properties for illegal purposes or who cause damages or refuse to pay rent.
Tenants can be evicted if they incorrectly withhold rent, cause property damage, or otherwise seriously violate the terms of a lease agreement. In order to be evicted, however, tenants must be served with correct notice, which is usually at least three days of notice.
If you are in a tenant-landlord dispute and cannot resolve the problem yourself, you will want to keep any records of the dispute, such as emails from the landlord or any notices you receive. If you need to stay outside the home because it is uninhabitable, keep receipts of hotel stays and additional expenses. Also keep a list of details related to your case. For example, if a landlord contacts you by phone, write down a record of when the call happened and what was discussed. This can help you track if a landlord has been negligent in making repairs, for example.
Since the Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act, other statutes, and lease agreements can be complex, it can be challenging to determine your rights and your next steps. If you are having a dispute over a rental property, you may wish to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you safeguard your rights.
You can always contact Flaxman Law Group for a free, confidential consultation. We have more than 60 years of combined experience helping those with a claim, and we have recovered over $100 million on behalf of our clients. Our offices in Miami, Homestead, and Hollywood are here to help and your initial consultation comes with no costs and no obligation, so you risk nothing by discussing your situation with an experienced attorney.