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Thank you very much for your patience on this. Generally, as you know landlords are required to keep the place habitable. This means that they need to do what they can to ensure that the place does not have any rodents. Also, Florida law requires that a landlord may be able to keep the deposit for any unpaid rent, to make any repairs, in for general cleaning. In your case, you are going to need to make sure that you have a justifiable reason for keeping the deposit from the individuals. Otherwise, they may try to sue you in small claims court for that deposit. If there is no evidence of mice, then that is going to be a really good defense. My recommendation would be to get an exterminator to come back through the building one more time to see if there are any mice. If you've already done so, be sure that you save the documentation that came from the Exterminator. This way, if you have to go to court for any reason you could use that documentation as proof that there was no infestation and that that you legally broke the lease and you were able to keep their deposit as reasonable compensation for the breach of contract. Did you have any other questions for me?
I am not licensed in FL, but landlord-tenant questions in FL have come up hundreds of times and I have answered many questions satisfactorily for FL residents.
I can understand the confusion. Subsection (1) of 83.51 basically lays out that this applies to all residential premises. The later subsections specifically outline mobile homes or other structures to include them as well.
I understand. Infestations should still be handled by the landlord, even if the lease doesn't say anything about it. It's the implied warranty of habitability, meaning that it doesn't have to be expressly stated in the lease.
It doesn't need to be an infestation. One mouse could arguably violate the warranty of habitability, but that argument works less in your favor as the # goes up. Thus, if it was just one or two mice, then it's probably not enough to make the place uninhabitable such that they could break the lease. That would help your argument considerably.
You would have to show that you did not violate the implied warranty of habitability and that by keeping their deposit, it was to pay for their unlawful breaking of the lease. I think you'd have a good case in my legal opinion.