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The Do’s and Dont’s of Leasing

Renting an apartment comes with more than just the obligation to pay rent. Tenants and landlords both have respective responsibilities to ensure that tenancies are carried out properly and in accordance with Florida laws. If you are unsure of your obligations under a tenancy or are concerned that your landlord is failing to meet their obligations under your lease, you should contact an experienced landlord-tenant attorney immediately.

The Tenant’s Responsibilities

As a tenant, the most obvious responsibility you will have is to pay your rent on time. However, there are some other rights and responsibilities that you have as a tenant that are important for you to keep in mind, even if you do not have a written lease.

  1. If there is a conflict between the law and your lease, the law wins.
  2. Your landlord must give reasonable notice before entering your unit and they should only enter for inspection or repair purposes. Additionally, they must try to come at a convenient time unless there is an emergency.
  3. There are a few minimum requirements to make your unit habitable.
    1. There must be working plumbing, hot water, and heating.
    2. The unit must have reasonable security and be structurally sound.
    3. There must be working and locking doors and windows and it must be free of pests.
    4. The unit must be in compliance with local health, building, and safety codes.
  4. Your landlord must pay for any costs that are required to make your unit habitable as described above.
  5. You have a right to receive a notice in writing if your landlord believes that you have somehow violated your rental agreement, this includes a notice of unpaid rent
  6. You have a right to defend yourself in court
  7. You should receive your security deposit within 15 days of leaving the dwelling
    1. There are exceptions for if your landlord needs to withhold the deposit for repairs beyond normal wear and tear of the apartment. A notification of deductions must be made within 30 days after the tenant has vacated and the tenant has 15 days from that date to object to any deductions in writing.
  8. You are able to withhold rent, but only in “very aggravated” circumstances.
    1. You can only withhold rent if your landlord fails to provide a safe and habitable rental.
    2. Even your landlord has failed to provide a safe and habitable rental for you, you are still required to give the landlord seven days of written notice of the problem.
    3. You should still preserve the payment and look to the court for permission to spend any of the rent money on necessary repairs.
  9. You have the right to leave. Check your written lease closely to determine the protocol for you to vacate the premises with respect to how much notice you must give your landlord.

You Have the Right to Speak to an Attorney

Battling your landlord may seem like a significant undertaking. However, even if you feel that your landlord has let you down and failed to adhere to your lease agreement, you can have a partner in the process. If you live in West Palm Beach, you should contact Pike & Lustig, LLP, where our landlord-tenant attorneys can help you determine how to fight any injustices you may suffer from your landlord.

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