Landlord and Tenant Law

October 17, 2016

Landlord Tenant Law is a contractual relationship between someone who owns property and someone that wants a temporary use of that property. Generally speaking, there are two general categories of the landlord and tenant relationship.

  1. Residential tenancies which are governed under Florida Statute Chapter 83 (83.001 – 83.251) andlandlord tenant law
  2. Commercial tenancies which are governed under Florida Statutes 83.40 – 83.682

In addition to the landlord tenant law and procedures established by Florida Law as prescribed by Statute, the landlord and tenants usually enter into a written contract or lease which further establishes the relationship among the parties. Generally speaking, if a legal requirement is provided by Statute, the Statute overwrites the contract, unless it is a default statute.

Some of the issues which commonly arise in the relationship between landlord and tenant include:

There are several issues that may arise between a landlord and his/her tenant under the Florida Landlord Tenant Law principles.. For instance, issues related to repairs, security deposit refund, rent arrears, service charges, uninhabitability of property, pets and, the worst of all, anti-social behavior.

If a dispute arises between a property owner and a renter, it is advisable for both the parties to seek legal advice regarding their rights and responsibilities. Subsequently, both can make informed decisions about their next move.

 

Third party mediation can also be sought to resolve a dispute of this nature. Taking a litigious route to the same would result in spiraling expenses and hampering of day to day life activities to a considerable extent.

Slum Lords

Generally, the term slumlord is used for an unscrupulous landlord who reaps profit from his property with no concerns for renters, neighborhood or long-term interests of their own. These are usually absentee landlords, who own more than a single property, and minimize property maintenance expenses to maximize profit margin.

Such landlords contribute a great deal to problems that arise between landlords and tenants. Usually, landlords maintain their property very well to attract tenants who can pay higher rents. Contrastingly, slum landlords or slumlords hardly spend on property maintenance and offer low rental rates to attract tenants with bare minimum capacity to pay the same.

 A slumlord property is a deteriorated residential rental property manifesting at least one of the following conditions, hazardous to public safety:

  • Structurally unsafe exteriors, roof, walls, porches or railings.
  • Dearth of sanitation facilities, potable water or waste pipes.
  • Perilous gas or electrical connections
  • Dearth of safe, quick egress.
  • Accumulation of any kind of waste, combustible materials, dangerous liquids or explosive materials.

Overextending Lease

Certain landlords try to lure tenants to enter into a lengthy multi-year lease by offering better terms. This can, however, turn out to be a catch, in the form of a high early termination penalty, if the tenant wants to or needs to move out before the lease expires.

Hence, it is advisable to start with a two-year lease at the most, to avoid landlord / tenant issues in the future.

Security Deposits

Every state in the US allows a landlord to ask for a security deposit from the tenant. However, every state frames different laws for doing that. A property owner must check with their local government to ensure following the right protocols.

Following are the factors pertaining to security deposits you must consider before asking for it from your tenant:

  • Whether there’s a security deposit limit in your county/city
  • Can a non-refundable deposit be charged
  • Rules pertaining to the storage of security deposit, if any
  • Whether or not there’s a need of providing a written notice to the tenant after obtaining the security deposit
  • The cases in which a landlord can keep / must return the security deposit

Termination of Lease in the Middle

As discussed earlier, early termination of rental lease agreement may result in heavy penalties for the landlord or tenant. The policy varies from agreement to agreement, but usually the lease terminator needs to pay a month’s rent as penalty if termination is sought in the middle.

For more information, please see our Property Law page and our Landlord Tenant page.