Fort Lauderdale Landlord/Tenant Dispute Lawyer
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant in Fort Lauderdale, it is important that you understand your rights and, more importantly, what to do if those rights have been violated. At the office of Edward J. Jennings, P.A., our Fort Lauderdale landlord/tenant dispute lawyers possess a broad knowledge of real estate law, especially as it pertains to rental contracts. Moreover, our team has extensive courtroom skills and litigation experience and are prepared to help resolve the most complex of real estate disputes. If you suspect that your rights have been violated as either a landlord or a tenant, or if you want to learn more about your rights as a party to a rental contract, reach out to our law firm today.
Common Causes of Landlord/Tenant Disputes
As with any contractual relationship, a landlord and a tenant both have obligations to each other. A tenant must pay rent on time, provide notice of any need for repairs, and allow the landlord to come inspect the property. The landlord, in turn, must provide a habitable space in addition to other express or implied warranties.
That said, landlord-tenant disputes often arise over certain issues. Those issues include the following:
- Lease agreements;
- Tenants’ rights;
- Responsibility for repairs;
- Non-payment of rent; and
In general, litigation should not be necessary to resolve disputes between a landlord and a tenant, as most disagreements can be solved by mediation or arbitration. Involving lawyers and courts should only occur as a last result, when mediation or arbitration does not work, or if the issues go beyond the scope of mediation and arbitration.
Lease Agreements and Tenants’ Rights
As a landlord, your rental agreement serves as a legal protection for both you and your tenant. It also details stipulations of your relationship as well as which “rules” to which a tenant must adhere. This agreement must be in compliance with state, federal, and local landlord laws.
Most lease agreement disputes arise when landlords take liberty with their lease agreements and include illegal clauses, such as a waiver of the landlord’s responsibility to keep a property habitable. A lease agreement may also be considered illegal if it fails to include the requisite foreclosures, including details on the security deposit or information regarding existing known health hazards on the property.
As a landlord, it would be in your best interest to include clauses that cover particular issues, even if it is not legally required to do so. For instance, a clause that informs tenants of your right to entry with a 12 hours’ notice can help you avoid a violation of privacy claim. A severability clause can also save you, as it states that if one clause of the lease is found to be illegal, the rest of the contract is still legally binding. Our tenant/landlord attorneys can help you devise a lease agreement that is legally binding and that protects your interests in your property in any number of situations.
Responsibility for Repairs
Florida landlords are bound by a legal document called the “implied warranty of habitability,” which grants tenants the right to withhold rent is certain repairs are not made. Issues covered under this doctrine are as follows:
- Broken water heater;
- Leaky roof;
- Lack of heat;
- Unstable floors or walls;
- Significant levels of lead;
- Presence of asbestos; and
If a landlord is notified of these issues but fails to make timely repairs, the tenant has the right to withhold rent. If a tenant is injured as a result of one or more of these conditions, that tenant has the right to break the lease without liability for future rent and/or to sue the landlord for damages.
Eviction is often the most commonly contested landlord/tenant dispute in Florida. Florida law is strict and only allows landlords to evict tenants for very specific reasons. Two of those reasons are as follows:
- Non-Payment of Rent: A landlord can file an eviction notice if the tenant does not pay rent on time. In Florida, rent due dates are always the first of the month, unless otherwise specified in the rental agreement. The landlord must give the tenant a three-day written notice before a tenant can be evicted. If the tenant offers to pay the full rent in that time, the landlord must take it. The landlord need not take any amount less than the amount owed.
- Breaking Terms in the Lease: A tenant can be evicted for breaking the rules set forth in the lease. This can include excessive noise, property damage, keeping pets on the premises, etc. The landlord must give a seven-day written notice and allow the tenant to cure the problem, unless the tenant misuses, damages, or destroys the property, in which case, a seven-day cure period is not necessary.
Landlords may sue tenants who refuse to move out when they receive an eviction notice. If the tenant has not fixed the problem in the time permitted, the landlord may file a complaint and the tenant can be sued.
Whether you are a tenant who has been sued for eviction or a landlord who plans to sue for eviction, you need the help of a skilled Fort Lauderdale tenant/landlord disputes resolution attorney. The right lawyer can help you successfully mediate the issue and avoid litigation altogether.
Turn to a Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Lawyer for a Swift Resolution to Your Landlord/Tenant Dispute
It is important to be well advised in the legal matters surrounding a landlord-tenant dispute. The attorneys at the office of Edward J. Jennings, P.A., are practiced in settling landlord/tenant disputes and can provide effective assistance in a wide range of matters. Contact our Fort Lauderdale law firm today for sound advice and effective legal representation.