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Landlord’s Responsibilities in Duplexes, Homes and Apartments

A landlord’s responsibilities to a tenant’s vary based on the type of rental unit involved. If the landlord fails to hold up his or her responsibilities, this could lead to a legal claim brought forward by the tenant. Claiming lack of awareness is not an appropriate response for a landlord who is dealing with this kind of problem. A landlord should always have good legal representation to avoid these problems in the first place when it is possible. Keeping good records and communicating professionally with the tenants is the best way to avoid problems in the first place and to have a support system ready in the event that a problem emerges with a current tenant.

For a single-family home or a duplex, for example, the landlord must:

  • Comply with any requirements of the housing, health and building codes, or
  • When there not housing, health or building codes in place, maintain plumbing in a reasonably good condition and maintain windows, floors, roofs, screens, exterior walls, porches, steps, foundations and any other structural component in relatively good repair. This means they must be prepared to handle normal loads.

In writing, these landlord obligations can be altered regarding a duplex or a single-family dwelling. As it relates to an apartment, the landlord has other responsibilities, including;

  • Complying with all housing, health and building codes; or
  • Maintaining all of the above listed elements in good working condition as with single family homes, and the landlord must also make reasonable provisions for a tenant of an apartment involving safe and clean conditions of common areas, garbage disposal, locations and outside receptacles, functioning facilities for hot water, heat during winter and running water, locks and keys and extermination of wood destroying organisms, bed bugs, mice, ants, and rats.

The landlord, however, is not responsible, unless otherwise stipulated in the lease, to pay for fuel, garbage removal, utilities or water. In some situations, landlords do choose to carry this, but they should be included in the rent. If you have questions about your responsibilities as a Florida landlord, you need to schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney who can help you.

Miami Landlord Accused of Double Payments for Apartments

Many landlords are not aware of the full range of right and duties afforded to them under Florida law. It’s dangerous to get into property ownership or management without first consulting with a dedicated Florida landlord/tenant lawyer. This is because an attorney can tell you more about some of the common pitfalls associated with landlords and how to avoid facing big risks in terms of tenant problems or litigation. No matter who you are renting to, you have a responsibility as a landlord to follow the law and adhere to the strict Florida rules surrounding acceptance, management, and eviction of tenants. The stakes are even higher if you accept government subsidies.

The Section 8 Housing Program highlights the importance of legal compliance for landlords across Miami and the rest of Florida. The Section 8 program helps more than one million and a half families across the country afford their rent, however, a South Florida landlord was processing Section 8 housing vouchers fraudulently and this led to a federal investigation that was carried out over the course of two years. Miami Dade public housing will no longer do business with that landlord who owned 11 buildings. Allegations that he was violating HUD regulations were raised after the landlord allegedly received $120,000 per month in Section 8 vouchers from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Double housing payments were accepted from two separate authorities for the same unit over extended periods of time, according to the allegations.

The Miami Dade Housing Authority and the Hialeah Housing Authorities were both providing $650 and $652 vouchers respectively for the same units. Landlords must be aware of the rules to comply with state and federal regulations and need to schedule a consultation with an experienced Florida landlord tenant attorney to protect their rights.

A lawyer can help you avoid problems with tenants by ensuring the proper paperwork and compliance procedures. Furthermore, if you need to take legal action immediately, you have a lawyer at the ready who knows your business practices and who can help you put together a plan to fight back if a tenant has broken their lease. The right lawyer is a big asset in advance and in emergency situations.

Top Responsibilities of Landlords in Florida

Landlords have a specific responsibility as well as legal rights under the law. Avoiding legal hassles in Florida by complying and being familiar with landlord-tenant laws is a top priority for anyone who owns or manages a property.

When you fail to meet these requirements and a tenant brings legal action against you because of it, you’ll need to be prepared to fight back with an attorney of your own. While no one ever wants to be in this position, you must be ready to respond immediately.

Showing the courts that you take your role as a landlord seriously can help to defray some of the problems and keep things from escalating further. The right lawyer makes a big difference in how you can identify problems now and chart a course for a better future. You should not wait if you’re concerned about what to do next. A proactive plan can help you.

 

There are many different legal responsibilities that fall under the umbrella of the landlord. These include:

  • Complying with anti-discrimination laws.
  • Meeting the Florida security deposit limits and return rules.
  • Following the state rules on rent.
  • Preparing a written rental agreement or lease.
  • Providing housing that is classified as habitable.
  • Respecting the tenant’s privacy by giving tenants 12 hours’ notice before entering the rental property.
  • Making legally required disclosures.
  • Avoiding retaliation against the tenant who exercises their legal rights.
  • Following exact procedures for evicting a tenant or terminating a tenancy.

All of these legal responsibilities can land you in hot water and could actually open up a landlord to paying damages to a tenant in the event of a problem. This is what makes it so important to retain an experienced attorney as soon as possible when you suspect that you have a legal issue with a tenant. Proper education and preparation of such a claim can help you avoid consequences and enable you to move forward more effectively in your future. Running or renting a property is an exciting prospect but it is one that should be done with care and concern- get help from a Florida landlord lawyer if you have questions.

 

Top Three Eviction Mistakes to Avoid for Florida Landlords

As a property owner, you have a responsibility to comply with the law as it relates to eviction. Although it can be a frustrating experience to live through this, following relevant laws and rules can assist you with the preparation and management of your case. A landlord is eligible to evict a tenant for failure to vacate the premises after a lease agreement has expired, if the tenant causes damage to the property and it leads to substantial property value decrease, if the tenant has violated a provision of the rental contract or non-payment of rent.

A landlord has to use the eviction process and every state requires separate guidelines. However, you must give termination notice. Ignoring eviction rules such as shutting off the utilities is one of the most common mistakes that Florida landlords make. A second mistake made by Florida landlords in the eviction process is engaging in invasion of privacy before the tenant has vacated the property. Trying to spy on the tenants to figure out what they are doing, could actually allow the tenants to file a lawsuit against you for violation for privacy.

The more evidence they have in their favor, the easier it will be for them to potentially pursue damages in court. Another common issue faced by Florida landlords as it relates to evictions has to do with getting rid of the abandoned property. You must treat any property left behind by the tenant as abandoned and you must notify the tenant about the cost for storage, where to claim the property, how to claim it and how long the tenant has to claim the items. If property stays unclaimed and it is worth more than a particular amount, you can sell the property at a public sale after publishing the notice in a local newspaper.

The landlord can throw it away or keep it away if it is of extremely low value. Consulting with an experienced landlord-tenant eviction attorney in Florida is extremely valuable for clarifying your rights and following the procedure effectively as a property owner.

 

 

Can Landlords Turn of The Utilities in An Effort to Evict Me?

If you and your landlord are not currently getting along, he or she might be threatening legal action. A landlord might be lawfully acting if they have followed all the relevant rules in order to trigger eviction proceedings, but there are also specific things a landlord cannot do even in the midst of an eviction.

You may have questions about whether or not a landlord can take particular actions during a situation that is escalating between you and the property owner or manager. In the majority of circumstances, it is illegal for a landlord to turn of utilities; however, there are some exceptions. Whether or not tenants will have a cause of action against a landlord for causing utility service to be turned off depends on whether or not the landlord gave the tenants three days’ notice to vacate the property.

If the three-day written notice that a landlord gave to tenants to vacate the property was valid, there is a strong chance that the lease agreement was terminated and therefore, the landlord may have been acting within his or her rights. If it is found that the landlord attempted to interrupt a utility service before the termination of the lease, the landlord could be held responsible for consequential and actual damages or three months’ rent, whichever of these is higher. The landlord may also be responsible for paying costs such as attorney’s fees. A court, however, may only award small damages since the interruption of utility service would affect tenants for a short period of time.

Consulting with a knowledgeable Florida landlord-tenant attorney can help you figure out whether the landlord has crossed a line and what you should do as far as next steps. When a situation is escalating between you and a landlord, it is natural to want to handle the circumstances on your own but this could be a big mistake if you have been unable to come to a term of agreement with the landlord already. It is far better to schedule a consultation with an attorney and to allow the situation to be handled directly by the lawyer.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                           

5 Most Important Landlord Responsibilities Under Florida Law

Florida law requires a landlord to meet a number of expectations regarding their property and their relationship with tenant(s). Here are 5 of the most important responsibilities landlords have to tenants and what you as a landlord can do to get help managing the legal aspect of your landlord/tenant relationships.

1. Providing Housing That Is Habitable

First and foremost, you must provide habitable housing to your tenants. This means that the residence must be in good repair without health hazards. It also must be livable, including having running water and heat during the winter. If you do not provide habitable housing to your tenants or do not make repairs in a timely fashion to keep your rental habitable, your tenant may have the right to withhold rent.

2. Respect the Privacy of Your Tenants

Although it is your property, once your tenants sign the lease agreement, Florida law affords them a reasonable amount of privacy. You must provide at least 12 hours of notice before entering the property for repairs or to show the property. The law does make an exception for emergencies.

3. Returning the Security Deposit On Time

One of the most frequently seen disputes in Florida between landlords and tenants are disputes over security deposits. You must return the tenant’s security deposit within 15-60 days of their move-out date. In cases where no deductions are needed, the deposit should be returned within 60 days. Additionally, in cases where deductions are necessary, an itemized list should be provided to the tenant.

4. Remaining In Compliance with Anti-Discrimination Laws

You cannot discriminate against tenants based on their race, gender, disability, religion, familial status, or other protected status. For example, you cannot deny housing to a family with children under the age of 18. This is true even if you prefer not to rent to families with children. Rejections should be based on credit, references, or other indicators that they are a risky tenant.

5. Evict Only Under Legally Allowed Circumstances

You cannot evict a tenant in Florida at-will. In fact, there must be a legally allowed reason. Reasons include late payment of rent or other lease violations, like having a pet when the lease clearly states that no pets are allowed. You must also follow guidelines for how tenants can be evicted.

As a landlord, you’ll want to make sure your legal bases are covered. Contact the Law Office of Steve Taylor today to learn how we can help you by calling our office at 1-305-433-0497.

How to Reduce Your Liability as a Landlord

As a landlord, you not only open yourself up to a world of new income possibilities, but you also open yourself up to a great deal of liability. It’s important to take time to consider what liability issues could potentially come your way. Be proactive about taking steps to protect yourself against them.

Ensure Your Property Is Up to Code

The most important thing to do is make sure your property is in good condition. This includes meeting all building codes. You must comply with an “implied warrant of habitability”. This essentially means that you must ensure that your property is fit and habitable from the time your tenants move in to the time they leave. There should be no issues with the property that could potentially cause your tenants to become injured or ill. Nor should there be issues with the property that prevent it from being habitable. Some examples include a lack of running water or heat.

Ensure Your Property Is Equal Opportunity

Consider taking steps to make sure your housing is equal opportunity. This includes outfitting it for individuals with disabilities and mobility issues. Check the Fair Housing Act’s requirements, such as those designed for building and construction. You may need to modify your property to meet diverse needs. But, in the end, it will pay off by opening your property up to a wider array of tenants. It also prevents you from any discrimination lawsuits.

Prepare for Emergencies

Any digital storage of rental agreements, contracts, and other important paperwork must be safeguarded. Regularly back them up in the event of an emergency. Store paper files in an offsite fireproof safe. Additionally, prepare a sound evacuation plan that takes your unique property into account. Therefore, make sure your tenants have a way to get to safety. Additionally, make sure you have funds put back for any emergency repairs you need to do. Repairs could be simple, like a pipe burst. But they could also be major, like after a natural disaster. Be prepared either way.

Contact the Law Office of Steve Taylor

Identifying and understanding potential liabilities and protecting yourself from them isn’t always easy. Having someone on your side to support you in your real estate endeavors and provide guidance when needed is invaluable. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation at 1-305-433-0497.

Can My Tenant Legally Withhold Rent?

Tenants are typically required by their rental agreements to pay rent at a certain time each month. However, Florida law does allow tenants to withhold rent under certain circumstances. This is usually when a landlord fails to meet certain legal requirements for keeping a rental home in good condition. Find out what to do if your tenant starts withholding rent.

The Legal Responsibilities Landlords Have

Under Florida law, landlords are responsible for keeping a rental home in good condition. They must ensure the home meets all health, environmental, and housing/building codes. This usually includes:

  • Windows and doors, including screens
  • Foundation and floors
  • Porches and steps
  • Outside walls

Additionally, Florida law requires landlords of all types of buildings — with the exception of duplexes and single family homes — to ensure the structure is free from rodent and insect activity, including termites, ants, and cockroaches. Landlords also must provide heat, water, and garbage removal.

Florida landlords are not required to provide air conditioning. 

Failure to adhere to these laws allows a tenant to legally withhold rent until the landlord remedies the issue(s) that are in violation.

What Tenants Must Do to Withhold Rent

A tenant cannot simply stop paying rent and later claim it was due to a law-violating condition within the home. By law, tenants must notify a landlord of their intention to withhold rent in writing seven days prior to the day it’s due. Additionally, the written notice must be sent to the landlord via certified mail, arriving seven days prior. Or, it can be hand-delivered to the landlord in the presence of a witness.

If your tenant has stopped paying rent and did not provide you with written notice prior to doing so, you may be able to take action against them for the nonpayment of rent, which may include eviction.

What to Do If You’ve Received a Written Notice of Intention to Withhold Rent

If your tenant provides you with a written notice of intention to withhold rent due to a problem in the home covered under Florida law, the simplest thing to do is fix the problem within the seven-day window. Once fixed within that time frame, the tenant must pay rent as usual on the day it is due. If you are unable to do this, you can fix the issue and the rent will be due at the normal time the following month.

For questions about landlord/tenant law in Florida, contact the Law Office of Steve Taylor at 1-305-433-0497.

How to Evict Your Florida Tenant

It’s something few landlords actually want to do — evict their tenant. However, in some cases eviction is necessary when a tenant violates their lease agreement or refuses to pay rent in a timely manner. Here are some steps to take if evicting your tenant is the best move for your real estate business.

Do You Have Grounds for Eviction?

The first step is to determine if you have a right to evict your tenant. More often than not, tenants are evicted for nonpayment of rent on time, or for violating the lease. Examples of lease violations include destroying the property, having pets if you have instilled a no-pet policy, or manufacturing or selling drugs on the premises. It’s always a good idea to check with an attorney beforehand to ensure that you have solid legal ground to proceed with an eviction.

Check the Lease to Ensure You’re Up to Code

As a landlord, you also have a few things within the lease agreement that you must adhere to. Make sure that you’re up to code on everything before you hand out the eviction notice. If any repairs need to be made to make the property safe and inhabitable according to Florida law, they need to be done prior to eviction.

Warn Your Tenant

It’s in your best interest to send a warning letter to your tenant. This letter should detail their lease violation and your intent to evict if they do not remedy the violation immediately. When an eviction is on the table, send any letters or communication to your tenant via certified mail. This way, you have proof that they received the communication.

File an Eviction Notice

If your tenant still has not remedied the lease agreement violations, eviction is your next step. An attorney can help you deliver an eviction notice accordingly. For example, there are different timelines for how much notice you are required to give your tenant based on what type of violation they have made. A 3-day notice is sufficient for nonpayment of rent, while some situations require a full 30-day notice.

Contact the Law Office of Steve Taylor

Evictions can be challenging, but with the help of a seasoned real estate lawyer, you can be certain that you are following the correct process for eviction and protecting yourself legally from any retaliation on the part of your tenant. Contact us today for a consultation at 305-433-0497.