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Can I Stop Paying Rent When My Landlord Won’t Fix Something?
By Jeffrey R. Nuckols, Esq.
You’ve been on time with rent. You keep your place clean. You’re a good neighbor. In short, you’re a model tenant. But now your landlord is not holding up his part of the deal. Your apartment or rental home needs a repair, and it is the kind of repair that the landlord is responsible for making. For example, your lease specifies that you are only responsible for repairs that cost no more than $100, but the roof has started leaking, and that’s going to cost more than $100. Let’s assume that the roof leak was not caused by the tenant. Click here to read more.
You’ve told the landlord about the leak, but he won’t fix it. What do you do? Can you just stop paying rent? After all, if the landlord won’t do his part, why should you do yours, right?
Well, not so fast.
In Florida, there is a statutory provision informing us of what a residential tenant may do when the landlord will not make necessary repairs that he is required to make. For example, see Section 83.56 of the Florida Statutes. The first thing the tenant must do is to notify the landlord of the problem in writing. Even if you’ve already talked to the landlord about the problem a hundred times, you must tell the landlord about it in writing. The written notice must inform the landlord of the specific problem, and it must inform the landlord that the tenant intends to terminate the rental agreement. Next, the tenant must allow the landlord 7 days after the written notice to make the repairs. Then, if the repairs are not made, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement – unless the problem is caused by something not in the control of the landlord.
If the problem with the rental premises is caused by something beyond the control of the landlord, and the landlord continues to make reasonable efforts to fix the problem but is unsuccessful, the tenant has a choice. If the dwelling unit is untenable because of the problem, the tenant may vacate without being responsible for rent while the unit remains untenable. If the dwelling unit is not untenable because of the problem, the tenant may continue to occupy the premises with a reduction of rent proportional to the loss of rental value that the problem causes.
So, you can see that there are some steps to follow and some considerations to make before determining whether the tenant may stop paying rent when the landlord will not make a necessary repair.
This brief blog post cannot do full justice to the topic, and the specific facts of your dispute with your landlord may make a difference on how you should proceed. If you have an issue with your landlord, call the attorneys at DKN Legal at 321-329-5449.
Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice nor as forming an attorney-client relationship or any other form of legal representation. Consult with an attorney at DKN Legal or another attorney of your choice for legal advice.