Can You Stop Paying Rent if the Landlord Does Not Make Necessary Repairs?
In other words, do you still have to pay rent if your landlord fails to make needed repairs in the rental home or apartment?
Florida law requires landlords to follow a variety of building, housing, and safety laws. Rules and regulations regarding housing conditions in rental properties depend on city or county codes. Also, your landlord’s obligation to make necessary repairs depends on whether you rent an apartment or a home.
Florida Landlord’s Duties to Make Repairs in a Rental Property
If a tenant lives in an apartment building, his/her landlord must:
- Ensure that there are no rodents or bugs in the building or apartment;
- Provide plumbing, including hot water;
- Provide heat;
- Ensure removal of garbage; and
- Keep the building and areas around it clean and free of hazards.
Depending on what your lease says and the city/county laws, your landlord may be required to provide air conditioning. If you live in a standalone home, the landlord may have the same duties as outlined above. Your lease will list the landlord’s duties to make repairs or obey housing codes.
What if the Landlord Does Not Obey Housing Codes?
If the landlord failed to keep the rental property clean, did not make needed repairs, or violated any other housing codes, you can take action.
Florida law prohibits tenants from making repairs themselves without obtaining the landlord’s permission and/or subtracting the costs of repairs from the rent payments. Otherwise, such conduct may result in landlord-tenant litigation.
If the landlord did not make needed repairs, there are two options:
- Stay in the rental property. In that case, you can stop making rent payments – in other words, withhold your rent – until your landlord makes a reasonable effort to address the issue.
- Move out before the end of your lease. In that case, you can cancel your lease without having to pay the penalty.
Either way, you must provide a letter to your landlord. The letter is also known as a 7-day notice.
The 7-Day Notice if You Want to Stop Paying Rent or Move Out Early
By providing the 7-day notice, a tenant is warning his or her landlord of the intention to stop paying rent or move out early.
If you wish to move out due to the landlord’s failure to make needed repairs, you still have to wait seven days after sending the letter to give your landlord a reasonable chance to solve the issue. If the problem was not fixed after providing the letter and waiting seven days, the tenant should move out immediately and return the keys to the landlord.
If you wish to stop making rent payments, you may have a right to withhold your rent unless you are behind in your rent payment and/or the issue is not severe enough.
The 7-day notice must be given to a Florida landlord seven days before the next rent payment is due. The letter must be in writing and contain:
- A list of repairs to be made or the issued needed to be fixed;
- The deadline to address the issue(s) (typically, seven days after the landlord receives the letter); and
- The tenant’s course of action if the issues are not solved by the deadline (usually, an intention to move out or withhold rent).
Contact a West Palm Beach landlord-tenant litigation attorney if the landlord is refusing to make necessary repairs. Reach out to Pike & Lustig, LLP, for a case evaluation. Call at 561-291-8298 today.