Florida Habitability Laws

QUICK FACTS
  • Landlord Responsibilities. Provide working plumbing, electrical wiring,  HVAC equipment, heat, electricity, and supply hot and cold running water (read more).
  • Making Repairs. Landlords are required to make and pay for repairs for items under their responsibility. They must do so within 20 days after receiving a written request from tenants (read more).
  • Tenant Options. If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, tenant can withhold rent or move into a temporary housing paid for by the landlord (read more).
  • Retaliation. Retaliation against tenants for requesting repairs that affect habitability is illegal under Florida law (read more).

The implied warranty of habitability in Florida does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are & aren’t included.

Dwelling TypeLandlord/Tenant Laws Apply?
Single familyYes
Multi-familyYes
Fraternities/Sororities/ClubsNo
RV parksNot specifically addressed
Mobile home parksYes, if renter is occupying unit
CondosYes, if renter is occupying unit
Hotels/MotelsNo

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

Landlord Responsibilities

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 IssueLandlord 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/cookingNot 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 detectorsOnly 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/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.

Sprinkler Systems

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.

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

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.

Making Repairs

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 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.

Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made

If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.

  1. Withhold rent – Florida landlord tenant law allows tenant to withhold rent after giving the landlord seven days’ notice to fix the issue.
  2. 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.
  3. Lawsuit – tenants have the right to pursue legal action for damages resulting from habitability issues.
  4. 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

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:

  • interrupting any utility service that the tenant is entitled to
  • preventing reasonable access to the property
  • recovering possession from the property
  • increasing rent.

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.

Sources