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Ask Thomas Swartz Your Own Question
Thomas Swartz
Thomas Swartz, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 3175
Experience:  Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
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I recently moved into an apartment. There was a water

Customer Question

I recently moved into an apartment. There was a water leak above shortly after move in. It flooded the upstairs apartment and drained into mine. This required that the landlord call in a drying service which propmtly set up five large very noisy machines in a 800 sq foot apartment making the apartment unlivable for all intents and purposes. The landlord states that we must keep this drying equipment on 24 hours a day for a total of 72 hours. I have checked the noise level with a decible meter, it averages 89 decibles. It removes ALL of the moisture from the air in the apartment and that in itself is very uncomfortable. The landlord left a nasty note saying that if we didn't leave the equipment on we would be responsible for whatever mystery damages may occur as a result. They have not offered ANYthing in the way of compensation, not even a we're sorry. The electric alone for these things has to be 10 dollars a day or more not to mention the inability to use our 1,500 dollar a month 1 bedroom apartment. What can we do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Thomas Swartz replied 1 year ago.
Hello Cindy,A landlord has an obligation to provide a dwelling that is fit to be lived in, and is required to make repairs of conditions which make a dwelling unlivable. And the landlord is required to pay for these repairs. It sounds very much like your situation makes your apartment unlivable or mostly so. Under these circumstances, Florida Law does allow a tenant to withhold rent or a portion of your rent. However, before doing so, you must give the landlord 7 days written notice of your intention to withhold rent and your reasons for doing soThe particular Florida Statutes involved are:Florida Statutes Section 83.51(1)Florida Statutes Section 83.56(1)Florida Statutes Section 83.60(1)(b)In particular please take note that under Florida Statutes 83.56(1)(b), if you remain in occupancy during the period that the dwelling is unlivable the amount of rent can be reduced by "an amount in proportion to the loss of rental value."You can find a sample notice of withholding rent here: Sample Letter to LandlordSo, in your circumstances you can give your landlord a written notice that you are withholding rent in an amount which you believe is the proportion of the apartment which is unlivable.Please read the above statutes in detail, as they specify your rights in detail.Thomas