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County Civil - Landlord / Tenant

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The Clerk's Office recommends you seek advise from an attorney regarding any
Landlord/ Tenant problems. If you need assistance in locating an attorney, visit
the Lawyers Referral Service website or call 1-800-342-8011.

Helpful Links
Floridar Bar Tenant and Landlord rights.

Florida PIRG Renters Rights Online Handbook
Rights & Duties of Tenants and Landlords

Oral and Written Leases

A lease is an agreement to rent property. It may be written or oral. Most are written, however, because oral agreements can be subject to misunderstandings. A written lease can be in the form of a formal contract or simply a copy of a letter that states the rights and obligations of both tenant and landlord. Florida law requires that most notices to and from a landlord must be in writing, even if the rental agreement is oral. In cases where there is no written lease, the term of the rental payment schedule (monthly, weekly, etc.) determines the length of the agreement. See "Termination of Tenancy".

Access to the Premises
Once a tenant leases a dwelling, the right to possession is much the same as ownership. The landlord, however, can enter at reasonable times and with proper notice to inspect, repair, supply agreed upon services, or show the premises to a prospective or actual purchaser or tenant, mortgagee, workman or contractor.

Landlord's Obligation to Maintain Premises
If the unit is a single family home, duplex, or mobile home, unless otherwise agreed upon in writing, a landlord must:

    * Comply with building, housing, and health codes.
     
Where there are no applicable building, housing or health codes maintain the roof, floors, windows, screens, and all other structural components
in good repair, and the plumbing in reasonable working condition.

 If the unit is other than a single family home, duplex, or mobile home, unless otherwise agreed upon in writing, a landlord must:

    * Provide for the extermination of rats, mice, roaches, ants and wood destroying organisms.
    * Provide running water and hot water.
    * Remove garbage from the premises.
    * Provide a smoke detection device.
    * Provide locks and keys.
    * Provide a working heating system.
    * Provide clean and safe condition of common area.

Tenant's Obligation to Maintain Premises
A Tenant must:

    * Comply with housing and health codes.
    * Keep the dwelling clean.
    * Remove garbage from the dwelling unit.
    * Keep plumbing repaired.
    * Do not destroy, damage or deface premises.
    * Occupy the dwelling without disturbing the peace.
    * Not abuse the electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning or other systems furnished the landlord.

Landlord Compliance
A tenant may be able to withhold the rent if the landlord fails to do what the law or the lease requires. A tenant must announce his/her intention by certified mail at least 7 days before the rent is due allowing the landlord time to remedy the problem. If the problem is not corrected within the 7 days and the tenant withholds the rent, the landlord may take the tenant to court to collect it. Under these circumstances, the tenant must pay into the Court Registry the amount of rent due, pending the judge's ruling on the case.

Tenant Compliance
A tenant can be evicted for not complying with the terms of the lease. Depending on the offense, the process for removal varies.

Failure to Meet Lease Obligations

Except for the failure to pay rent, a landlord must notify a tenant in writing of the short- comings and give the tenant 7 days to correct the situation. If the tenant does not reply within 7 days, the landlord can begin the eviction process.

Non Payment of Rent
The landlord must serve the tenant with written notice allowing 3 days (excluding weekends and legal holidays) for payment of the rent or vacation of the premises. If the tenant does not pay within 3 days, the landlord may begin the eviction process. The landlord must file suit in the Clerk's Office of the county in which the dwelling is situated. The tenant then has 5 days (excluding weekends and legal holidays) to respond in writing to the court. If there is no response from the tenant, a judgment is entered against the tenant. The Clerk's Office will issue a "Writ of Possession" to be served by the sheriff, notifying the tenant that the tenant will be evicted in 24-hours.

Prohibited Practices
Florida law does not allow a landlord to force a tenant out by:

    * Shutting off the utilities.
    * Denying the tenant access to the premises by changing the locks.
    * Removing the tenants personal property from the dwelling unless it is a lawful eviction.
    * Removing outside doors, locks, roof, walls or windows (except for purposes of maintenance, repair or replacement.

Termination of Tenancy
Either party may terminate a tenancy without a specific duration by giving proper written notice, as follows:

    * Yearly     (not less than 60 days notice).
    * Quarterly (not less than 30 days notice).
    * Monthly   (not less than 15 days notice).
    * Weekly    (not less than 7 days notice).

          See Florida Statute 83.56(4).

Practical Pointers


    * If you have a written rental agreement read it thoroughly before signing.
    * If there are any changes to the written rental agreement, get them in writing. Keep receipts and records.
    * Do a walk through before entering or vacating the premises.
    * Take pictures of any questionable conditions.
    * If you have a problem, put it in writing and proper form.

          See Florida Statute 83.51.