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, both the landlord and tenant must follow. If the landlord fails to correctly follow these procedures, the eviction may be dismissed. Likewise, if the tenant does not properly follow the procedures, the court may find the tenant in default and grant the eviction. As such, knowing what you must do is often the most important step.

I also often get questions posed by parents or relatives that are renting or simply allowing a person stay at the home for an extended period of time but now wish to have that person leave. Although you might believe this situation is fundamentally different, under the law, it really is not.  These situations also are governed by Florida Law and require certain steps be taken to ensure you are not using “self help.”  Removing a person from the dwelling can open that “landlord” up to significant liability. See Fla. Stat. 83.67, Prohibited Practices.

Don’t let questions go unanswered, especially ones that could impact you financially. Have a free consultation with our office today and make sure you are ready.

If you are a tenant and want to know more about how you might prepare yourself for a dispute with your Landlord follow this link:

Getting Prepared