In Florida, a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by Fl. Stat. § 83.51. This legal requirement, commonly known as the “implied warranty of habitability”, also outlines the rights of tenants when repairs are not made in a timely manner.
Applicable Dwelling Types in Florida
The implied warranty of habitability in Florida does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.
|Dwelling Type||Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?|
|RV parks||Not specifically addressed|
|Mobile home parks||Yes, if renter is occupying unit|
|Condos||Yes, if renter is occupying unit|
Additionally, rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence.
Landlord Responsibilities in Florida
The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability. Not all of them are requirements in Florida, as indicated below.
Note: Some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.
|Habitability Issue||Landlord Responsibility?|
|Provide windows and doors that are in good repair.||Yes|
|Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks.||Must be maintained in good repair|
|Provide hot and cold running water.||Yes|
|Provide working HVAC equipment.||Yes|
|Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting.||Yes|
|Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking||Not specifically addressed|
|Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet).||Yes|
|Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services).||Only for multi-family units|
|Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe.||Not specifically addressed|
|Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe.||Must be maintained in good repair|
|Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean.||Not specifically addressed|
|Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials.||Not specifically addressed|
|Provide working smoke detectors||Only for single family units and duplexes|
|Provide a mailbox.||No|
|Provide working wiring for one telephone jack.||Not specifically addressed|
|Provide working kitchen appliances.||No|
|Provide working carbon monoxide detector.||Not specifically addressed|
|Provide a working washer/dryer.||No|
Windows and Doors
Doors or windows cannot be removed by the landlord, unless it is necessary to repair the door and window. In addition, the landlord must provide window and door screens that are in good shape and repair any issues with the screens once a year.
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.
Not all states require existing apartment complexes, townhomes, and condos to have sprinkler systems. Many states do not require new construction to have sprinkler systems, either. However, Florida has enacted laws requiring “retroactive” installations for apartment buildings and high rises.
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
- Any pest that would destroy wood (termites, etc.)
The tenant must vacate the dwelling unit for extermination, but the period should not be more than four days. However, this requirement does not apply to single family units or duplexes.
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.
Tenant’s Right to Repairs in Florida
If tenants request repairs that affect habitability, they must put their request in writing to the landlord.
- Sending Notice– The landlord will then have 20 days to make any necessary repairs after receiving written notice from the tenant.
- 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 and must enter at a reasonable time (between the hours of 7:30 am and 8:00 pm) 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.
- The tenant is absent from the dwelling unit for a period which is equal to one-half the time for periodic rental payments.
Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made in Florida
If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.
- Withhold Rent – Florida landlord tenant law allows tenant to withhold rent after giving the landlord seven days’ notice to fix the issue. Once the issue has been fixed, the tenant shall pay the landlord the amounts of rent withheld.
- Repair and Deduct – Tenants have the right to make a repair and deduct the cost from next month’s rent —as long as tenant already notified the landlord of the problem and has given them seven days to resolve the issue.
- Lawsuit – Tenants have the right to pursue legal action for damages resulting from habitability issues.
- Reporting to Public Officials – Landlords can be reported to a governmental agency responsible for enforcement of a building, housing, or health code if they are found to be in violation of any local housing codes.
Landlord Retaliation in Florida
Under Florida law, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against tenants for requesting repairs that affect habitability and for exercising their right to a safe and habitable rental unit through:
- Filing a complaint to a governmental agency charged with responsibility for enforcement of a building, housing, or health code.
- Organizing or joining a tenant organization.
- Withholding rent.
- Pursuing legal action.
Retaliatory conduct includes:
- Increasing rent.
- Interrupting any utility service that the tenant is entitled to.
- Preventing reasonable access to the property.
- Recovering possession from the property.
Landlords who are found to be guilty of retaliation shall be liable for actual and consequential damages or three month’s rent, whichever is greater.