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I am currently a resident in FL living in a 2 unit house…

I am currently a resident...
I am currently a resident in FL living in a 2 unit house (one unit upstairs and mine is downstairs). I reported a rodent infestation in my unit initially on Jan. 31, 2018. The real estate management company sent a pest control agent out on the 4th day after reporting the issue (after the rodent caused damage by chewing a hole through my couch and chewing on my kitchen mat). He was out on 4 different occasions as his attempts were only temporary fixes and did not address the issue of the rats still entering the premises and running through the walls. The rodents have again accessed my unit and this time the pest control stated he would no longer offer services as the issue is bigger than what he can do (he has stated that there is an issue with the foundation as well as the rats potentially accessing via an open sewage line). I was notified today (again 4 days after reporting rats in the unit) that they have found a new pest control company to come out. My concern is that these are only temporary fixes and will not remedy the situation. Am I able to still send a letter to withhold rent and/or terminate my lease if they cannot provide a permanent solution to keep the rats out of the unit? I wrote a letter 2 weeks ago addressing the continued reports of the issue not being resolved and was told that "Pest Control is not part of the lease" and they are doing this as a favor - however there is no mention of pest control anywhere in the lease. I am afraid that everything being done is only a temporary fix and will not solve the issue. I am losing sleep, have spent my own money buying traps and have missed work due to the infestation already. I was told that they are not providing habitable housing and I have every right to withhold rent and ask to be released from my lease. However I do want to make sure that per FL law, even though they are sending pest control, with the issue continuing now for 7 weeks I am obliged to ask to break my lease as at this point they cannot resolve the issue.
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Answered in 6 minutes by:
3/20/2018
Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 43,045
Experience: 17 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
Verified

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney and will try my best to help with your situation. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I type out an answer or reply.

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The crazy thing about Florida is that the law specifically says that a landlord is not responsible for rodent or insect infestations in a single family dwelling or a duplex...

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FL Statutes 83.51 Landlord’s obligation to maintain premises.—

(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.

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So legally they are right...they don't have to provide extermination services if you are in a duplex... crazy, but it is the law in FL.

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With that said, if you were to break the lease and vacate, I don't see a judge holding you liable for doing so if you claim that the infestation was causing the property to be dangerous and uninhabitable due to the many diseases that rats carry on their bodies and in their droppings..

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thanks

Barrister

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thank you for the quick response. I do understand that it's FL law to not provide the pest control for a duplex, however if the infestation is due to lack of proper foundation and potentially an open sewage line (as the last pest control already reported), would this not then fall to the landlord to correct? As well, there are multiple access points into the unit that the rats are entering through from the walls that have yet to be repaired and fixed. I can only do so much to keep the rodents out without having to foot the bill in the end to literally repair the building itself.

That is the argument I would make... And I might call the local Code Enforcement office to come out and inspect so they could cite the landlord for any violations and force repairs if there is an open sewer...

Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 43,045
Experience: 17 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
Verified
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