Landlord/Tenant Disputes

Half animal, half beast, landlord/tenant litigation arises out of two main areas of law: contract and statutory law (Chapter 83). Many Floridians in recent years have found a niche in buying and renting “income properties.”  Unbeknownst to some, residential and commercial property leases come with distinct guidelines to be followed by both the landlord and the tenant aside from from the terms of the agreed upon lease. Some of these issue include the following:

Security Deposits

In disputes involving a security deposit, Florida law dictates the procedures and timelines regarding the return of a security deposit or a landlord’s intent to keep part or all of a security deposit. After the lease terminates and the tenant moves out, the landlord must return the deposit within fifteen (15) days if the landlord does not intend to impose a claim on the security deposit. If the landlord intends to impose a claim on the deposit, the landlord must state in writing by certified mail to the tenant’s last known mailing address within thirty days explaining why the landlord is keeping a portion of or all of the deposit. If the notice is not sent as required within the thirty day period, the landlord forfeits the right to impose a claim upon the deposit.

Unless the tenant objects to the landlord’s claim on the deposit within 15 days after
receipt of the landlord’s notice of intention to impose a claim, the landlord may then deduct the amount of his or her claim and shall remit the balance of the deposit to the tenant within 30 days. If the tenant objects to the landlord’s claim, the tenant should first notify the landlord in writing by certified mail that the tenant objects to the landlord’s claim on the security deposit. The tenant may then file a complaint with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services or institute an action in a court to decide the landlord’s right to the security deposit.

Evictions

When a landlord is attempting to evict a tenant, Florida law dictates specific steps and procedures, as well as exact timelines, which both the landlord and tenant must follow and abide. If the landlord fails to correctly follow the steps and procedures, the eviction may be dismissed by the court. Likewise, if the tenant does not properly follow the procedures and abide by the timelines, the court may find the tenant in default and grant the eviction.

I often get questions about other situations, such as where a parents or a relative had been renting or letting a person stay at the home for an extended period of time but now wishes to have them leave. What is your obligations?  These situations also are governed by Florida Law and require certain steps be taken to ensure you are not using “self help.”  Self help in removing a person from the dwelling can open that person up to significant liability.

Don’t let your questions go unanswered, have a free consultation with our office today, so you are ready to exercise those rights when necessary.