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Dimitry Esquire
Dimitry Esquire, Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 41220
Experience:  JA Mentor, multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation & admin
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My sister in law's landlord has rented the studio apartment

Customer Question

My sister in law's landlord has rented the studio apartment attached to her duplex. She is charging a family of 5 rent including utilities as their base rent for the studio. The problem is that the utilities are in my sister in law's name, not the landlord's. To make matter worse, the landlord has lied to the others stating that their rent was raised to accommodate the additional utilites being charged to my SIL's account, and that my SIL's rent was lowered to ameliorate the difference. That is untrue. As the utilities are not in the landlord's name, and their is no additional meter to transfer the studio's electric. The electric has gone from $200/mo to $400/mo, but the landlord is not reimbursing her for the difference.
What recourse does my SIL have? It is illegal for the landlord to lie to her tenants, she has threatened eviction when my SIL put her foot down, and - as a disabled person, who is a caregiver of other disabled people, my SIL's family needs legal protection and advice.
This is all taking place in Poinciana, FL - Osceola County.
Thank you for any and all advice you may be able to render.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Dimitry Esquire replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.
Your sister-in-law has the right to go to court and file suit for fraud and misrepresentation against the landlord and seek damages based on his false and improper claims. In addition she can contact the local legislature to find which division governs and regulates landlord activity (I was not able to find a specific department or division that does so in the town provided). Withholding rents is generally not permitted, but if she files suit and places the funds in escrow until the hearing is held, that would likely be permitted as it would show that the funds exist and can be provided to the landlord upon conclusion of the case. As far as giving her notice, that would be seen as retaliatory if she files against him, and therefore it is still a valid tool at her disposal. Obviously the other family can likewise file suit and be accorded the same protections as would your sister in law in case the landlord chooses to retaliate.
Sincerely,
Dimitry, Esq.

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