Florida Habitability Laws

The Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act governs all landlord/tenant issues in the state. Read further to learn what landlords are responsible for providing and how long they have to make repairs. Learn how tenants should request maintenance and how habitability applies to damages and security deposits. 

Quick Facts for Florida

Who Does The Warranty of Habitability Apply To?

The Warranty of Habitability in Florida applies to short-term and long-term rental properties, as well as long-term renters of mobile homes. Fraternity and sorority houses, hotels/motels, and condos are not covered under habitability laws.

How Long Do Tenants Have to Make Repairs?

7 days after being given written notice. Tenants may also have the cost of damages reduced from their security deposit if they are not fixed or paid for.

What Are Tenants Responsible For?

Tenants are required to keep the rental reasonably clean; landlords can ask a tenant to clean up if they are not doing so.

What are Landlords Responsible For Providing?

Running hot water, working HVAC equipment, plumbing, electrical, sanitation facilities, and elevators (in buildings that have them), as well as a trash can (for trash pickup services). Landlords are only required to provide working smoke detectors in single family units and duplexes. They are also only responsible for pest control in multi-family units. Landlords do not have to provide tenants with a mailbox.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Fix Something?

After tenants request repairs, landlords must make them within 20 days. They must also provide 12-hour notice before entering the unit to make these repairs.

Landlord Responsibilities for Habitability—Florida

Florida law governs all landlord/tenant issues in the state.  The following chart lays out which types of rental units the law applies to.


Understanding the Law

In Florida, landlords are responsible for ensuring that any common areas of rented or leased multi-family properties are clean and safe. 

NOTE

For all residential properties, landlords are required to ensure the property complies with any and all building codes and housing codes as they relate to the safety of the building and/or the health of the residents.

They’re also required to make and pay for any repairs necessary for the unit to be livable—unless those needed repairs have been caused by the tenant’s actions.  

Tenants are required to pay for any repairs caused by their own negligence or intentional acts, which may come out of the security deposit.

Rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence.

Landlord Responsibilities

The chart below lists common landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability.  Not all of them are requirements in Florida, as indicated in the chart below.

Windows and Doors

Doors or windows cannot be removed by the landlord, unless it is necessary to repair the door/window.  In addition, the landlord must provide window/door screens that are in good shape, and repair any issues with the screens once a year.

Smoke Detectors

While Florida’s landlord/tenant laws only require smoke detectors in single family dwellings and duplexes, there may be building or housing codes that require this for multi-family units.  Remember, landlords are required to provide rental units that comply with all applicable housing and building codes.

Pest Control

If any of the following pests are discovered in a rental unit after it has been rented out, the landlord must treat the unit and pro-rate rent for any time the tenant had to be out of the unit for the extermination of:

  • Rats, mice
  • Roaches
  • Ants
  • Any pest that would destroy wood (termites, etc.)
  • Bedbugs
NOTE

However, this requirement does not apply to single family units or duplexes.

Changes to Single Family Rental Agreements

Landlords and tenants in single family dwellings can alter the rental agreement as it relates to some of the above, but no matter what alterations are made, the final rental agreement must comply with all housing and building codes and does not change the landlord’s responsibility to provide a livable unit for their tenants.

Addressing Habitability Issues

For any repairs a landlord makes due to the tenant’s actions, a landlord can:

  • Use the tenant’s security deposit to pay for any damage to the property when the tenant moves out.
  • Evict the tenant seven days after giving the tenant written notice.
  • Pursue damages through legal action.

Under the law, tenants are allowed to have seven days to correct any issues noted as the reason for terminating the lease, including repairing any damage they have caused, if it is within their ability to do so.

Evictions

NOTE

landlords cannot evict a tenant without first having a court order.

Tenants cannot be locked out, have utilities shut off, or have doors/windows removed as a means of forcing them to leave the premises. 

These tactics are illegal, and landlords who attempt any of the above will be required to pay their tenants damages equal to three months’ rent or the actual amount of damages, whichever amount is greater.

Tenant Repair Requests

If tenants request repairs that affect habitability, they must put their request in writing to the landlord.

The landlord will then have 20 days to make any necessary repairs after receiving written notice from the tenant.

If a landlord fails to make the requested repairs within 20 days, a tenant has the right to withhold rent until the repair is made or terminate the lease and move out immediately without owing any further rent.

Landlord Access

Tenants are required to give the landlord access to the property to make necessary repairs.  However, landlords must give tenants at least 12 hours’ notice unless:

  • Tenants refuse legitimate access by the landlord.
  • It’s an emergency.
  • Both parties have agreed to a shorter time period.
  • The tenant no longer occupies the property.

Failure to Provide the “Essentials”

If a landlord intentionally or negligently fails to provide heat, water, electricity, and/or other “essentials,” tenants are allowed to:

  • Withhold rent after giving the landlord seven days’ notice to fix the issue.
  • Move into temporary housing until the issue is corrected; during this time, the tenant will not owe any rent to the landlord.
  • Pay a reduced amount of rent until the issue is fixed.
  • Terminate the lease after giving seven days’ notice to the landlord.
  • Pursue damages through legal action.  Tenants have a right to receive actual damages, or three months’ rent, whichever amount is greater.
NOTE

Retaliation against tenants for requesting repairs that affect habitability is illegal under Florida law.

Security Deposits and Repairs

Finally, if the costs for any repairs were taken out of the tenant’s security deposit, the landlord is required to give the tenant notice of the landlord’s plan to withhold all or part of the deposit within 30 days of the lease’s termination. 

The tenant will then have 15 days after receipt of this notice to object to any amount withheld. 

If no objection is made, the landlord may withhold the funds.

If a landlord fails to provide the 30-day notice regarding their intent to withhold all or part of the security deposit, they will be required to return the full amount of the security deposit to the tenant.

Sources

  1. The Florida Bar, “Consumer Pamphlet:  Rights and Duties of Tenants and Landlords.”
  2. Florida Statutes, Title VI, Chapter 83, Landlord and Tenant.

Other Resources for Florida Landlords