Landlord & Tenant Law
Home Town Law, P.A. assists clients with lease interpretation matters, enforcement of lease provisions, evictions and eviction defenses.
It is important to keep in mind that although Florida law does not require a written lease, it is always prudent to request a written lease that clearly states all the terms. Oral leases are subject to misunderstandings and are more difficult to enforce. Do keep in mind that if there is no written lease, then the span of your rental payment (weekly, monthly, etc.) determines the length of the agreement.
Before signing a rental agreement make sure you understand the terms of the contract. You should not sign the lease until you understand all of its provisions as once the lease is signed, you are bound to the agreement.
Before signing a rental agreement always conduct a preliminary walk-through in the actual premises you intend to rent, so as to identify any problems that should be fixed before you rent. Verbal promises made by the landlord to fix the identified problems, should be included or attached as a written agreement to the lease, and signed by the landlord.
A damage deposit (security deposit) is one of the most common requirements of landlords. At time of your pre-rental walk-through with the landlord, you should make note of damaged items or areas and give a copy to the landlord. Keep a copy for your files. This should reduce the likelihood of a dispute at a later time.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for Both Landlord and Tenant: Take and retain comprehensive photographs of leased space BEFORE and immediately AFTER occupancy.
The Landlord's Responsibilities
- The roof must not leak.
- The walls must be weather-tight, and in good repair.
- The stairs must be safe for normal use and maintained in good repair.
- Windows and doors must be basically weather-tight, water-tight, rodent-proof, and kept in sound working condition. Outside doors have to have proper locks.
- Window panes cannot have cracks and holes. Outside windows must have screens.
- Inside floors, walls, ceilings must be basically rodent-proof and kept in sound condition and good repair, and should be safe.
- The house or apartment must have hot water, which is connected to the kitchen and bathroom sinks, tub or shower.
- All houses or apartments must have a flush toilet in good working condition.
- When cooking and heating equipment are provided by the landlord, they must be safely installed and in good working order.
- There must be adequate garbage disposal facilities or garbage storage containers.
- Every habitable room must have at least two separate floor or wall electric outlets and, additionally, every kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and hallway must have a ceiling or wall-type fixture, or an outlet controlled by a wall switch near the entrance to the room.
- All electrical systems must be in good repair and good working order.
The Tenant’s Responsibilities
- Keep the house or apartment in a clean and sanitary manner.
- Remove all garbage from the house or apartment in a clean and sanitary manner (for example, use garbage cans).
- Keep all plumbing fixtures in the house or apartment used by the tenant in a clean and sanitary manner and in good repair.
- Properly use and operate all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, which are in the apartment or house.
- Not destroy, damage or in any way misuse the property itself. This includes not permitting any tenant’s guests to do so either.
- Not remove anything from the house or apartment which does not belong to the tenant (for example, cannot remove light fixture which was in the property when tenant moved in).
- Conduct themselves and require anyone who visits them to act in a way that does not disturb the peace.