NOTICE TO LANDLORD AND WITHHOLDIING RENT: SINGLE FAMILY HOMES AND DUPLEXES

Last week, we discussed the “implied warranty of habitability” as well as the requirements of §83.51, Florida Statute which requires landlord’s to maintain minimum standards of habitability for single family dwellings and duplexes. This week, we will talk about what the tenant’s duties and remedies are if those standards are not met by the Landlord.

We have all heard someone say, “I’m going to withhold my rent, that’ll show him!” Yes, the law in Florida does allow a tenant to withhold rent, but only for specific reasons, and only after the proper procedures are followed.

What you need to know:

Withholding rent property guidingWritten notice must be given to the Landlord at least seven days before the rent is due to allow time for the landlord to remedy the problem.

The letter should include: landlord’s name, tenant’s name and signature, date, property address, what the material non-compliance is, and a sentence informing the landlord that they have seven (7) days to fix the problem or you intend to withhold the rent due to their failure to maintain the dwelling.

Although the law doesn’t require it, a cautious tenant will send this notice via certified mail with return receipt. This will insulate the tenant from the landlord’s claim that they weren’t notified of the problem(s).  Keep a copy of the letter and the return receipt.

You need to save the rent as it becomes due. Withholding rent does not mean you get to live for free. Do not spend the money. If the landlord complies and fixes the problem, you will need to pay him at least a portion of the rent. If an eviction action is initiated, you will be required to deposit all of the money you have withheld with the court, pending the conclusion of the eviction case.

If you have followed the procedures set forth in Chapter 83, Florida Statutes, and the Landlord tries to evict you for nonpayment of rent, the Tenant has a complete defense, and the court will determine the amount, if any, by which the rent should be reduced to reflect the diminution in value of the dwelling unit during the period of noncompliance. See: §83.51(1), Florida Statute

Bottom line, if you are a landlord or a tenant, and there is a dispute regarding the living conditions of the residence, you should speak with an attorney before you proceed. The cost of an hour or so of an attorney’s time can save you a lot more in the long run.

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
239.573.9939 Telephone
239.603.9939 Facsimile

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Posted on December 19, 2012, in Legal and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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