Landlord Duties: Habitability
In this blog I will discuss some of the duties that every landlord has when entering into a residential lease in Florida. Think of these duties as a floor, not a ceiling. They are the minimum requirement by law. However, if you have followed some of my other blogs, you may know that the lease agreement is the overriding document that governs the relationship between the landlord and the tenant, and to some extent, even the condition of the residence.
Landlord’s Obligation to Maintain Single-Family Home or Duplex
By operation of law, there is an “implied warranty of habitability” that is included in every Florida residential lease. Basically, this means that the property must be fit for human occupancy and that it will remain that way throughout the duration of the lease. The question you must ask yourself is, is it a reasonably safe dwelling and is it livable?
Florida law requires the landlord to comply with the requirements of applicable building, housing, and health codes; OR, where there are no applicable building, housing, or health codes, maintain the roofs, windows, screens, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, foundations, and all other structural components in good repair and capable of resisting normal forces and loads and the plumbing in reasonable working condition. See: Florida Statute 83.51(1)
Exceptions: The above requirements do not apply to mobile homes or other structures owned by the tenant.
Typically, the landlord must also provide heat during the winter, hot water, and flushing toilets. Air conditioning is not required for the residence to be deemed habitable as it is considered an amenity, not a requirement of a habitable living condition.
The same statute that provides the minimum standards also allows the landlord’s obligations to be altered or modified in writing with respect to a single-family home or duplex. However, Florida Statute 83.47(a) prohibits provisions in rental agreements that waive or preclude the rights, remedies, or requirements set forth in the “Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.”
Confused? You should be. Bottom line is that if your landlord is not working with you to address your concerns about the condition of your leasehold, you need to speak with an attorney immediately to discuss your options. I have witnessed a sundry of situations where tenants have had valid claims or defenses, but lost out on them because they were not familiar with the law and strict procedures that our legislature has put in place. Join me in the upcoming weeks as we delve deeper into the landlord/tenant relationship.
This is a generalized discussion and is not intended for any particular set of facts and should not be relied upon as such. By no means does this blog create an attorney-client relationship or attorney-client privilege between the attorney and the readers. The law frequently changes as new cases are decided and published regularly. Anything relied upon in this or any blog, is done so at the readers own risk.
VERNON W. GUIRGUIS, ESQ.
The Guirguis Law Firm, PLLC
1423 S.E. 16th Place, STE 204
Cape Coral, Florida 33990
Posted on December 12, 2012, in Legal and tagged Attorney, Florida Law, Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, Florida Statute 83.47(a), Florida Statute 83.51(1), Fort Myers, Landlord, Lawyer, Legal Schmegal, Property Guiding, Residential Lease, Tenant, The Guirguis Law Firm, Vernon Guirguis. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.