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Landlord/Tenant Disputes

Settling Disputes Between Landlords and Tenants in Fort Walton Beach

Landlords and tenants both have specific rights under Florida state law. When complications arise in the relationship between either party, they may seek legal recourse with the aid of an attorney. If you are a landlord who believes a tenant has breached their lease agreement, or you are a tenant who believes your landlord has failed to uphold statutory and lease obligations, contact our Fort Walton Beach landlord/tenant attorneys The Virga Law Firm, P.A. today for swift and efficient legal action.

Call (800) 822-5170 now to begin discussing your case.

For Tenants

In Florida, residential tenants have rights which landlords are required to honor. State law provides tenants with various remedies to force landlords to comply with these rights; however, it is necessary to take the proper steps to enforce said remedies.

If you are a Florida tenant whose landlord is not protecting your rights, you should:

  1. Alert your landlord that they have not complied with your lease agreement, or with Florida state law. Under Florida Statutes, section 83.56(1) and 83.60, this alert must be delivered to your landlord via written notice.
  2. Clearly state in this written notice how your landlord has failed to comply with your lease agreement or Florida state law. Alert your landlord that if they do not rectify their violation within 7 days of your written notice’s delivery, you will either withhold payment of rent or seek to terminate your rental agreement altogether.
  3. Add 5 days to the date of delivery if your notice was submitted via mail, pursuant to Florida’s “Mailbox Rule.” Tenants whose situations are urgent should avoid mailing their notice and instead hand deliver it to expedite this process. All told, your landlord will have no more than 12 days after the notice was delivered to rectify their non-compliance.

Make sure to consult with an experienced Florida landlord/tenant attorney to ensure your notice is properly written, and that you are within your rights to withhold rent or seek termination of your rental agreement under state law. If your notice is not properly written or delivered, or if you do not have grounds to withhold rent/terminate your lease, you may be subject to legal action, including on the part of your landlord.

For Landlords

As is the case for tenants, landlords are also required to correspond regarding legal matters through official notice, pursuant to Florida state law.

Landlords can take legal action against tenants for reasons including:

  • Failure to Pay Rent: If your tenant fails to pay rent, you must deliver them a written notice allowing them at least 3 days to pay or vacate. The 3-day rule falls under Florida Statutes, section 83.56(3), however, under some lease agreements, more than 3 days may be allowed. It is important to note that “rent” must only constitute monies owed under the lease agreement, clearly defined as “rent” or “additional rent” (additional rent refers to costs defined in the lease agreement on top of base rent). It is important not to seek financial compensation for services or debts which fall outside of the lease agreement, otherwise your notice can be found legally deficient, and provide a defense for your tenant in an eviction dispute. Some courts require landlords to itemize rent and additional rent in a notice. Note: Do not include holidays or weekends as dates in a notice, as business days are the only acceptable periods of time when landlords can force tenants to pay or vacate under the law.
  • Curable Breach of Lease: For breaches of lease unrelated to payment of rent, a written notice must be delivered specifying how your tenant’s actions breached their lease agreement, and alerting them that you will take action if their breach/breaches are not cured. Curable breaches include behavior such as failing to maintain the premises, disturbing the peace, or barring a landlord from lawfully entering the premises. A curable breach of lease notice should stipulate that your tenant has 7 days to correct any lease violations. This notice should also state that failure to correct violations within 12 months may be used as grounds to terminate a lease without further opportunity to “cure” any breaches, even if the breaches in question are curable. If your tenant fails to cure a violation within 7 days of delivery of notice, they can be found in breach of lease, and they may be subject to eviction.
  • Non-curable Breach of Lease: Non-curable breaches include violations such as intentional destruction of property, or committing crimes on the premises. Tenants are to be given 7 days following official notice before terminating a lease agreement for non-curable breaches. If a tenant fails to vacate the premises following this 7-day period, you may legally begin the eviction process. The same goes for curable violations which occur within 12 months of initial notice.

Under Florida’s Mailbox Rule, landlords must also add 5 days onto the period given to tenants in a written notice. These days cannot include holidays or weekends. Remember, the more specificity you can provide to a client regarding the reasons they are in breach of lease, the better your notice will hold up in court. Lack of specificity on an official notice may provide a tenant with a legal defense of wrongful or constructive eviction. To avoid this from happening, consult with a lawyer before submitting any formal notices.

What About Month-to-Month Tenancies?

If your tenant is renting under a month-to-month lease agreement, you must deliver a notice of termination at least 15 days prior to the end of the month. In some cases, certain lease agreements may provide tenants more than 15 days’ notice. In your written notice, you must specify to your tenant why you are terminating their agreement, and alert them that you will begin the eviction process if they do not vacate by the end of the month.

Trust The Virga Law Firm, P.A.

As official notices go back and forth in landlord/tenant matters, it is important to have an attorney by your side so you do not get lost in this sometimes-convoluted process. By securing representation at the beginning of a dispute, you can save time, energy, and money in the long-run. Landlord-tenant law revolves around procedure. Failure to obey procedure may put you at risk in accordance with the Florida Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, under which you can lose all legal recourse if you do not comply with the necessary steps.

Stay on top of landlord/tenant disputes from the beginning, with The Virga Law Firm, P.A. No matter what side you are on, we will always look out for your best interests and use every resource available under the law. Whether you are a tenant tired of being mistreated by a negligent landlord, or a property owner whose tenants are routinely in breach of their lease agreement, our team of Fort Walton Beach landlord/tenant lawyers will fight for you. Don’t let property disputes get out of hand, contact The Virga Law Firm, P.A. today.

Dial (800) 822-5170 to speak to an attorney, or contact us online 24/7.

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