We were renting a house on a signed annual agreement, and during the agreement, the landlord disappeared and stopped doing maintainance and a deputy came by to serve him forclosure papers. We didn't see or hear from landlord for almost 2 years but now he is trying to sue us for all the back rent and evict us. The state is Florida. And the signed rental agreement states "not to exceed 1 year" ! What should we do ?
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): Florida
Nothing yet, just got served 5 day eviction notice 1 day ago.
Hello and thank you for the question. I am sorry to read of this dilemma. Legally the lease is binding for the lease term. Once lease ends you continue on as a month to month tenant. You would owe rent for period you resided on the premises. You can negotiate a reduction or defend a lawsuit on basis of breach of lease by landlord in failing to provide services and repairs. To avoid an eviction order against you it is better to negotiate a compromised and reduced amount. 50 percent for example would be a reasonable target.
Well I was reading and I seem to remember a law that says the landlord is not entitled to lost or back rent if he/she has not made a reasonable attempt to recover the property and re-rent it out. I would argue that being absent for almost 2 years and not paying for any repairs or pest control, and the fact that we were never asked to vacate or pay rent again, would make us no longer responsible for any back rent due ? Are you not familiar with that argument of law?
We're you in premises for the term landlord is asking for rent or did you leave early? Landlord cover is required where tenant vacates so where landlord takes no action to re rent it gives you a defense. Lack of repairs provides a secondary defense. On a month to month either side may end the tenancy on 30 day notice.
So since we were in said property during the duration of the back rent he is suing for our grounds should rather be focused on breach of contract by landlord for not providing maint as required by the signed lease ? And unless he could provide proof of ongoing maint during that time, he would be found in breach ?
That is precisely right. Courts usually will cut the rent balance rather than waive it completely. For this reason I suggested negotiating a reduced amount.
Well I only have 4 working days left to do anything, so should I do the "file a written reason I shouldn't be evicted paperwork" and file with clerk of court, as stated on the eviction notice ? Will that delay the eviction as well ?
Correct. This will slow down the process. You can work out a settlement on the court date or by calling landlord or his counsel in advance.
Represent landlords and tenants
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