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Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 5266
Experience:  Licensed to practice before state and federal court
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We own a single family home in Florida that we lived in for

Customer Question

We own a single family home in Florida that we lived in for 3 years. Never saw any evidence of mice whatsoever. June 1 we leased to a family and 5 days after they moved in they text me they found a mouse. We offered to pay for an exterminator for 2 months which we did and then told them it would be their responsibility. Now 21/2 mo later they state they have an infestation and broke their lease. We refused to give them their deposit back and they are threatening to sue. No evidence of mice in the home since they have vacated. What is our legal responsibility regarding this in Florida
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Florida
JA: What are the terms of the lease? Any issues related to maintenance or upkeep?
Customer: None.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: That I am stationed in Japan and have an international number and email is my best contact.***@******.***
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating so all that means is that you can count on me to help today. Do you mind if I take a moment to review your question?

Please keep in mind that our conversation does not include an attorney-client relationship and this is for general information purposes only. Additionally, most people believe a phone call is the easiest and most efficient way to handle problems. Accordingly, you will receive an automatic phone call request. If you would like a phone call, please click “Accept” when prompted.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
That's fine but I'm in Japan and don't have a stateside # I prefer chat.
Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

Great thanks! Just a moment...Remember, if you get an automatic phone call request and you would not like a phone call, you’re welcome to reject the offer.

Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

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?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Are you a lawyer in Florida?
Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

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.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
She quoted statute 83.51in her termination notice but it appears to me that it only pertains to other than single family homes and duplexes
Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

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.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
What if an infestation occurs after they have occupied the property? What is our obligation if there is nothing in the lease saying we are responsibility for pest control?
Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

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.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
What if it wasn't an infestation at all and only a mouse or two.
Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

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.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
What could happen if it goes to court?
Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

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.