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LegalKnowledge
LegalKnowledge, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 27266
Experience:  10+ years handling Legal, Real Estate, Criminal Law, Family Law, Traffic matters.
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I am 7 months into a 12 month lease in Boca Raton, FL. We

Customer Question

I am 7 months into a 12 month lease in Boca Raton, FL. We have complained about rats all around our apartment from the day we moved in. On the roof, in the walls and attic, all over. All the management keeps doing is passing the buck. Calling the pest control company. Then a "representative" comes out and puts out some bait or a few traps...not once actually kneeling down to investigate or climbing up to look in the eves.......but I have!!! I'm a 56 year old disabled construction worker. My wife of 37 years and I are unexpectedly raising our 4 year old granddaughter. She deserves to be in a rat free home. Especially for $1800.00 a month for a two, two. My question is this.....WHAT CAN WE DO LEGALLY?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  LegalKnowledge replied 1 year ago.

Good morning. I certainly understand the situation and your concern. Since this problem is known and documented, the landlord MUST act and I have provided the Florida Statute below which controls, that you can use and present to them to show the actions which they must take, if what they are doing now is not working. You may need to vacate temporarily and they would have to take a more extreme form of pet control. You need to be careful when you withhold rent, since you are still living there and you do not want them to try and evict you.

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, 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. The landlord, at commencement of the tenancy, must ensure that screens are installed in a reasonable condition. Thereafter, the landlord must repair damage to screens once annually, when necessary, until termination of the rental agreement.

The landlord is not 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 is not liable for damages but shall abate the rent. The tenant must 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.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Did you understand my statement?
Expert:  LegalKnowledge replied 1 year ago.

Yes, I do. I know you want to know what you can do legally, so I wanted to share that simply withholding the rent, is illegal and could subject you to eviction proceedings, which I would hate to see. Of course, it may force the landlord to act but I shared the statue with so you can show the landlord what their legal obligation is under the law. Now, if you had to move as a result of this and the rental was not habitable, you may have to deposit any rent with the clerk of court to hold until this is fixed. It simply may not result in the lease just being broken and you able to walk away, since the landlord is going to argue they are making a good faith effort to fix this BUT we know he could do more if needed.