Landlord/Tenant Dispute Attorneys in Florida
Failure to Comply with State Regulations & Contractual Obligations
Landlord-tenant law is one of the most widely used and applicable laws to the Florida citizens and residents. Millions of homes are rented every year in Florida, and there is always a landlord and tenant involved. Despite its common and widespread application throughout our state, it is very much misunderstood, misapplied and unknown area of law.
Like other areas of law, landlord-tenant litigation requires an experienced attorney with a sophisticated legal mind to address the various areas of law and procedure to advice completely and pointedly on the issues that arise in any given landlord-tenant dispute—and both landlord and tenant need the proper legal advice to make the right and best decision under the circumstances.
Tenant Remedies Under Florida Law
In a landlord/tenant relationship, either the landlord or the tenant may make an unlawful breach of contract or fail to comply with Florida landlord-tenant or housing laws, and the aggrieved party has rights to enforce the statutory and lease obligations imposed on the other party.
Tenants who are faced with a landlord’s legal action, whether by demands, notices or lawsuits, need to consult with a legal expert in landlord-tenant law, or else the tenant may face harsh liabilities, including eviction, damages and attorney’s fees and costs.
If you are a residential tenant whose landlord has failed to comply with Florida laws or fulfill the terms of your rental agreement, Florida law provides you with lawful remedies, but you must take proper steps to enforce those remedies:
- Provide your landlord of their non-compliance of their obligations under the lease agreement or Florida law, via written notice delivered to the landlord pursuant to Florida Statutes, section 83.56(1) and 83.60.
- In your notice, explicitly state what the landlord’s breach is (including as much details you can to provide sufficient notice) and state that if the landlord does not cure the breach within 7 days from the date of deliver that you intend to either withhold rent or terminate your rental agreement due to this failure to comply.
- If you mail a notice to the landlord, you must add 5 days to the notice period, pursuant to Florida’s Mailbox Rule. You should deliver the notice via hand-delivery to avoid the addition of 5 days to the notice period.
- Before you deliver such a notice or actually withholding rent or terminating your lease, consult with a landlord-tenant attorney to ensure that you have a legal basis to do so; otherwise, you risk withholding rent or terminating the lease wrongfully, which may subject you to eviction or legal action (e.g. damages), including attorney’s fees and costs.
Tenant Remedies Under Florida Law
Landlords are also required to correspond with problematic tenants via written notice if they intend to act upon their non-compliance. Property and apartment management companies need a landlord-tenant attorney they can trust and call at any time without having to worry if the attorney truly knows landlord-tenant law and about expensive legal fees. They need to know answers to their legal questions on a routine and consistent basis. This is especially true in the world of landlord-tenant law because so much of landlord-tenant law is procedural in nature, and the failure to follow the proper procedures will prevent the landlord from enforcing a remedy against a tenant—even if the tenant is truly in default or violation of the lease or statute.
If you are a residential landlord with tenants who fail to meet the requirements of your rental agreement or Florida landlord-tenant laws, Florida law provides you with legal remedies, but you must take proper steps to enforce those remedies:
Failure to Pay Rent. For a failure to pay rent, you must deliver a written 3 day notice to pay or vacate (unless the lease agreement provides for more than 3 days, in which case you must follow the agreement), pursuant to Florida Statutes, section 83.56(3). Note: “Rent” can only include those monies owed under the lease agreement that are defined as “rent” or “additional rent”. Do not include monies owed that are not defined as such; otherwise, the 3 day notice may be legally deficient and if you file an eviction based on a legally deficient notice, it may provide a defense to the tenant in an eviction action. Note: some courts require the landlord to itemize the “rent” and “additional rent” in the notice to pay or vacate (e.g. “August 2018 base rent – $1,000”, “August 2018 late fee - $75.00”, etc.). Note: the “pay or vacate” date cannot include legal holidays or weekends and cannot include the date of delivery of the notice.
Curable Breach of Lease. For breaches of the lease other than non-payment of rent, you must deliver written notice detailing the tenant’s noncompliance and your intention to respond, if the tenant’s breach is curable (e.g. failure to maintain premises; disturbing the peace; failure to give landlord lawful access to the premises), thereby giving the tenants 7 days during which to correct the violation in question. The notice should notify the tenant that a second or subsequent violation within 12 months from the current violation may subject the tenant to termination of the lease without further opportunity to cure, even if the second or subsequent violation is a “curable” violation. If the tenant fails to cure the violation within 7 days, you may have a lawful basis to evict the tenant.
Non-Curable Breach of Lease. if the tenant’s breach is non-curable (e.g. intentional destruction of property or committing a crime while in the premises) or if the breach is curable but is the second or subsequent violation of a curable violation for which the tenant has been given prior notice to cure within the previous 12 months, you must give the tenant 7 days notice to terminate the lease agreement. If your tenants fail to vacate the premises at the expiration of the 7 day notice period, you may be legally permitted to begin the formal process of eviction.
Month-to-Month Termination Notice. If your tenant is on a month-to-month tenancy, you may terminate the tenancy by delivering at least 15 days’ notice prior to the end of the monthly period (unless a written lease agreement provides for more than 15 days, in which case you must follow the lease). In said notice, you must notify the tenant that you are terminating the monthly tenancy and demand that the tenant vacate at the end of the month. If the tenant fails to vacate at the end of the monthly period, you may have a lawful basis to evict the tenant.
Notice Requirements. Florida law requires that the notice delivered to the tenant state with specificity the tenant’s violation. Be sure to be specific in your notice to the tenant. The lack of specificity may provide a tenant with a defense in an eviction action.
Mailbox Rule. If you mail a notice to the tenant, you must add 5 days to the notice period, pursuant to Florida’s Mailbox Rule. You should deliver the notice via hand-delivery or posting to avoid the addition of 5 days to the notice period.
Before you take any legal action against a tenant, consult with a landlord-tenant attorney, to ensure that you have a legal basis to do so and have provided correct legal notice to start an eviction action; otherwise, you risk legal action being taken against you for your wrongful actions, such as wrongful or constructive eviction and breach of contract, including attorney’s fees and costs.
With formal notices flying back and forth detailing the issues, landlord-tenant disputes can be complex, confusing and challenging to resolve without legal counsel. You can save yourself much money, time, energy, and hassle by securing representation from a landlord-tenant attorney in Florida as soon as you begin to experience a problem or issue. Landlord-tenant law is very procedural based, and failure of either party to comply with the procedures required by the Florida Residential Landlord-Tenant Act or the lease agreement may result in you losing your legal remedies. You will be far ahead by obtaining legal counsel to help you in the process and to protect your tenancy as a tenant or your investment as a landlord.
Call (800) 822-5170 for Legal Representation in Your Landlord/Tenant Conflict
At The Virga Law Firm, P.A., we have your best interests at heart, and we believe the law is on your side. Whether you are a tenant who’s being given the runaround by a negligent landlord, or a property owner whose tenants regularly fail to pay rent on time, we know how to help you pursue a positive outcome in your case. Don’t wait until your conflict escalates—get in touch with a member of our legal team today.
Call (800) 822-5170 today to speak to an attorney who can help you resolve your landlord-tenant or housing conflict.