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LegalKnowledge, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  10+ years handling Legal, Real Estate, Criminal Law, Family Law, Traffic matters.
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I have a question on renters rights, can you help?

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I have a question on renter's rights, can you help?
Hi! I will be the professional that will be helping you today. I look forward to providing you with information to help solve your problem.

Good afternoon. I would be happy to answer any questions which you may have. What is it that you would like to know?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

My son & his girlfriend just moved into a rental located in Ybor City, Tampa, FL. Prior to moving in the landlord had written, first month & last month $1,700 due. They explained they did not have that and would need to wait a little longer before they would have that kind of money. There was a verbal agreement between the three that they could pay down the last month over time. The still didn't have the $850 for the first month, however, she accepted $425 and has been getting $100 each week. Now the plumbing is a major issue, raw suage backing up into the tub. They called the landlord buth the landlord told them they would need to give her the last month's rent before she could have the issue fixed. This, I believe, is a health hazard and a potential code enforcement issue. They told the landlord they were not going to pay any additional monies until it was repaired. It was neve disclosed to them prior to signing the lease that there were plumbing issues. Do they have any recourse? Thank you much.

Thank you for the additional information. The landlord does have a legal duty to repair and correct the situation. It is certainly a health hazard and needs to be fixed at once. The fact that the landlord agreed to allow partial payments in regard to the rent and other fees has nothing to do with their obligation to fix the plumbing issue. What the landlord is doing is essentially illegal and could subject her to a lawsuit for damages, if your son and daughter were forced to vacate. One thing has nothing to do with the other and they should reference the statutes below when speaking with her, about the issue. Moreover, they should protect themselves and place her on notice, in writing, as to the current situation and need for repair. It is possible that the plumbing issues occurred after they took possession but if they were present before, the landlord needed to correct them, to make the property habitable.

83.51 Landlord’s obligation to maintain premises.—
(1) The landlord at all times during the tenancy shall:
(a) Comply with the requirements of applicable building, housing, and health codes; or
(b) Where there are no applicable building, housing, or health codes, maintain the roofs, windows, screens, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, foundations, and all other structural components in good repair and capable of resisting normal forces and loads and the plumbing in reasonable working condition. However, the landlord shall not be required to maintain a mobile home or other structure owned by the tenant.
The landlord’s obligations under this subsection may be altered or modified in writing with respect to a single-family home or duplex.
(2)(a) Unless otherwise agreed in writing, in addition to the requirements of subsection (1), the landlord of a dwelling unit other than a single-family home or duplex shall, at all times during the tenancy, make reasonable provisions for:
1. The extermination of rats, mice, roaches, ants, wood-destroying organisms, and bedbugs. When vacation of the premises is required for such extermination, the landlord shall not be liable for damages but shall abate the rent. The tenant shall be required to temporarily vacate the premises for a period of time not to exceed 4 days, on 7 days’ written notice, if necessary, for extermination pursuant to this subparagraph.
2. Locks and keys.
3. The clean and safe condition of common areas.
4. Garbage removal and outside receptacles therefor.
5. Functioning facilities for heat during winter, running water, and hot water.
(b) Unless otherwise agreed in writing, at the commencement of the tenancy of a single-family home or duplex, the landlord shall install working smoke detection devices. As used in this paragraph, the term “smoke detection device” means an electrical or battery-operated device which detects visible or invisible particles of combustion and which is listed by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., Factory Mutual Laboratories, Inc., or any other nationally recognized testing laboratory using nationally accepted testing standards.
(c) Nothing in this part authorizes the tenant to raise a noncompliance by the landlord with this subsection as a defense to an action for possession under s. 83.59.
(d) This subsection shall not apply to a mobile home owned by a tenant.
(e) Nothing contained in this subsection prohibits the landlord from providing in the rental agreement that the tenant is obligated to pay costs or charges for garbage removal, water, fuel, or utilities.
(3) If the duty imposed by subsection (1) is the same or greater than any duty imposed by subsection (2), the landlord’s duty is determined by subsection (1).
(4) The landlord is not responsible to the tenant under this section for conditions created or caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of the tenant, a member of the tenant’s family, or other person on the premises with the tenant’s consent.

83.201 Notice to landlord of failure to maintain or repair, rendering premises wholly untenantable; right to withhold rent.—When the lease is silent on the procedure to be followed to effect repair or maintenance and the payment of rent relating thereto, yet affirmatively and expressly places the obligation for same upon the landlord, and the landlord has failed or refused to do so, rendering the leased premises wholly untenantable, the tenant may withhold rent after notice to the landlord. The tenant shall serve the landlord, in the manner prescribed by s. 83.20(3), with a written notice declaring the premises to be wholly untenantable, giving the landlord at least 20 days to make the specifically described repair or maintenance, and stating that the tenant will withhold the rent for the next rental period and thereafter until the repair or maintenance has been performed. The lease may provide for a longer period of time for repair or maintenance. Once the landlord has completed the repair or maintenance, the tenant shall pay the landlord the amounts of rent withheld. If the landlord does not complete the repair or maintenance in the allotted time, the parties may extend the time by written agreement or the tenant may abandon the premises, retain the amounts of rent withheld, terminate the lease, and avoid any liability for future rent or charges under the lease. This section is cumulative to other existing remedies, and this section does not prevent any tenant from exercising his or her other remedies.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for the reply. She has told them that she is filing an eviction notice with her lawyer. They, of course, are beyond frightened. She knows they are just starting out.


Thanks again, I greatly appreciate it.

In order to evict them, she needs to have a legal basis to support it. The agreement in regard to the payment plan, should have been reduced to writing and stated in the lease. If it was oral, then your son and his girlfriend would have to testify as to what she agreed to and question her before the Judge. She can not retaliate against them, so she needs to have another legal basis to evict them, since she allowed them to move in, under the payment agreement. Please let me know if there is anything else. If not, please remember to rate my help with 3, 4 or 5 faces, so I can get credit for my answer. Thank you.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks again, you have been a tremendous help. Have a wonderful day.

You are welcome. Good luck with everything.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

One more question if I may. I just explained the information you gave me to my son & his girlfriend. Code enforcement has been out to review the problem and has started a case. When you say put the landlord on notice, they just need to write her a letter explaining the plumbing issue and that they will not pay any additional monies until the problem is repaired? Or are they required to continue to pay? I've never dealt with this before. Thank you.

Before they withhold any rent, it would need to be determined if the rental property is inhabitable as a result of the problem. If it is not, they need to continue to pay rent or else the landlord can use that against them for the eviction. Moreover, they are going to withhold rent, they may want to consider placing it in the court registry, showing that they have it and will pay it, once the landlord complies with their obligation. The letter which I referenced above has to do with placing the landlord on notice of the problem and the need to fix it.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX

You are welcome
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