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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33726
Experience:  15 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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Yesterday I received a text message from the realtor trying

Customer Question

Yesterday I received a text message from the realtor trying to sell the home we are renting (that is in foreclosure fyi). He said he needed to show the house today between 12:30-1pm. I replied politely that today was not a good day, but that he could show the home on Monday and I could be flexible with a time. I said I was sorry and to please advise for Monday. About an hour ago, I was in the shower and I could hear someone knock at the door, which sent my dogs into a barking frenzy. Obviously I could not get to the door so I yelled to the dogs to be quiet and then all of a sudden I hear people in the house. I stepped out of the shower and yelled through the door "hello....who is in the house". The reply I got was "I am the owner of the house and I'm showing the house". I saw the glimpse of 3 people walking by. I said "I am in the shower and this is not a good time.....I told the realtor this and that he could show the home on Monday" I said "please come back on Monday". She said "No, I have the right to show the house" and she continued to bring these people through the home despite my asking her to leave and telling her it was not a good time. My dogs were going nuts and she let one of them out of the house. The realtor was not even present in the home and he previously stated in writing that he would be present at all showings. I was literally trapped in my bathroom in a towel while these people walked around the home with my belongings. The door was locked by the way. How can this be right? What are my rights here? I said today was not good, but gave them an alternative day. I got no response and they just showed up and let themselves in? Please let me know. Thank you. Megan (I have copies of the texts that I can forward as well)
I would assume this is not right and I may like you to write a letter on our behalf. I know you are busy, but if you could just let me know how best to proceed I would greatly appreciate it. I cannot have this happen again.
Thank you so much.
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 2 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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This was a complete violation of your rights to "exclusive use and possession" as well as "quiet enjoyment" and you would be well within your rights to file suit against the landlord for the violation in small claims court if you wanted to pursue it.

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The attorneys here can't represent customers from the site or draft legal documents for them as we cant' enter into an attorney/client relationship under our agreement with JustAnswer.

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But as a landlord myself for over 26 years, if this was me, I would suggest that you change the locks on the property based on this violation of your privacy rights and breach of contract. Even if the lease prohibits it, you are well within your rights to prevent anyone from simply entering your home whenever they feel like doing so.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Thank you for your reply Barrister. I have attached the text messages between the realtor and myself for your review. These were exchanged yesterday afternoon. They gave me notice and I replied that it was not a good time (I had literally just got back into town from a trip). I gave them an alternative day of Monday and told them I could be flexible on time. And I received no reply to that. Nothing. Shouldn't they have said "sorry we are still coming or ok, we'll see you Monday". Are they covered with the 24 hour notice? Do I not have any right to say it is not a convenient time? Do they not have to respect that? Are they allowed to just barge in? Even when I am in here and I ask them to come back because clearly I am in the shower. It just does not seem right to me. I was accommodating them with another day, not refusing to show the home. I would love to change the locks and file a small claim, but I just don't want anything to come back at me. I want to be sure I am covered here. Please advise. Thank you. (texts attached)
Expert:  Barrister replied 2 months ago.

Ok, under FL Statutes 83.53, the landlord does have the right to enter the property with at least 12 hours notice, and the tenant can't unreasonably withhold consent.. The key here is "unreasonably"....

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So if they asked two or three times for different times and dates and you still said "no". that is unreasonable. But refusing their request once and then offering an alternate date is not unreasonable at all and their actions in ignoring your refusal would still be considered a breach of your rights because the law doesn't give them a unilateral right to inspect over your reasonable objections..

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I would still consider changing the locks even if it was a violation or at the very least tell the landlord the next time he or the realtor showed up without permission you will call the police on them and their buyer and see how the buyer and realtor likes dealing with being told to leave..

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Ok thank you. Our lease states 24 hours notice. If we filed a small claim, what would we be claiming and seeking judgment for?
I have not been unreasonable with regard to showings. I've rescheduled them a few times, but I've always given them an alternative time and it has never gone like today. Right now I feel like anyone could walk in the door at any minute and it is so uncomfortable.
Also, the realtor was not present today. He was here, but outside and I have in writing from him that he would be present at all showings. Is that anything to go on?
I just can't believe that happened.....really shocked that they just came in with two people and I asked them to please come back and they refused.
I would love to change the locks and that is what my husband suggested, I'm just afraid we are not within our right?
Expert:  Barrister replied 2 months ago.

Ok, then if the lease gives you a longer notice period, that controls.. So they definitely violated that if it wasn't 24 hours notice..

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You would be suing for breach of contract. Damages are kind of tricky here because you haven't really suffered any money damages so it would be up to the judge to determine what it was worth to have your rights and privacy violated like they did.

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Also, the realtor was not present today. He was here, but outside and I have in writing from him that he would be present at all showings. Is that anything to go on?

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No, the law gives the landlord or agent the right to access.. He has lied to you, but that wouldn't be actionable..

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If your lease states that you can't change the locks, then you would be in violation, but if the house is in foreclosure, then the landlord might not be in a financial position to take you to court and try to evict you. He is likely desperate right now to get the house sold before it is foreclosed on so is doing whatever he can to find a buyer, even if it infringes on your rights..

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I will check my Lease and see if it says I cannot change the locks, but I don't recall that.It was 24 hours notice, but again, I reasonably refused and gave them an alternate date.This has been a huge headache with repeated requested to show this house. It has frankly consumed way too much of my time and we are paying way too much money (2,800) for this house. We did not know the house was going to be put on the market or into foreclosure when we took occupancy, otherwise we would not have.Your point about foreclosure and her having no money to start a process brings me to my next question, do we have to continue to pay rent if the house is in foreclosure. I am also concerned because we gave her 3 months rent up front....1st, last and security...which I doubt she has.I have asked her to provide written verification from her Bank that she is holding our monies, but so far she has refused to. I don't think she has it. Is this a violation?
Expert:  Barrister replied 2 months ago.

do we have to continue to pay rent if the house is in foreclosure.

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Yes, as long as you are living there, you have to pay rent. No one ever gets to live somewhere for free.. The only time you would stop paying the current landlord is if the house was sold to a new owner. Then you have to pay them rent.

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I have asked her to provide written verification from her Bank that she is holding our monies, but so far she has refused to. I don't think she has it. Is this a violation?

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Yes, this is what the law says:

Florida Statutes Annotated §§ 83.49

83.49 Deposit money or advance rent; duty of landlord and tenant.—

(1) Whenever money is deposited or advanced by a tenant on a rental agreement as security for performance of the rental agreement or as advance rent for other than the next immediate rental period, the landlord or the landlord’s agent shall either:

(a) Hold the total amount of such money in a separate non-interest-bearing account in a Florida banking institution for the benefit of the tenant or tenants. The landlord shall not commingle such moneys with any other funds of the landlord or hypothecate, pledge, or in any other way make use of such moneys until such moneys are actually due the landlord;

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(b) Hold the total amount of such money in a separate interest-bearing account in a Florida banking institution for the benefit of the tenant or tenants, in which case the tenant shall receive and collect interest in an amount of at least 75 percent of the annualized average interest rate payable on such account or interest at the rate of 5 percent per year, simple interest, whichever the landlord elects. The landlord shall not commingle such moneys with any other funds of the landlord or hypothecate, pledge, or in any other way make use of such moneys until such moneys are actually due the landlord;

(2) The landlord shall, in the lease agreement or within 30 days after receipt of advance rent or a security deposit, give written notice to the tenant which includes disclosure of the advance rent or security deposit. Subsequent to providing such written notice, if the landlord changes the manner or location in which he or she is holding the advance rent or security deposit, he or she must notify the tenant within 30 days after the change as provided in paragraphs (a)-(d). The landlord is not required to give new or additional notice solely because the depository has merged with another financial institution, changed its name, or transferred ownership to a different financial institution. This subsection does not apply to any landlord who rents fewer than five individual dwelling units.

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And you are likely right that she has spent it on her expenses in trying to stay afloat..

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So yet another ground that you could sue her for breach under..

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If you feel your original question and any related follow ups have been answered, I would very much appreciate a positive rating on the answer I have provided as that is the only way I receive credit for my work. If you have a new question the JustAnswer folks require that you start a new question page, but you can request me by putting "For Barrister" in the caption and they will get it to me.

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thanks

Barrister

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