Can I withhold rent?

NO not under any circumstances.  Florida law DOES NOT have any statutory provision where a tenant can withhold rent FOR ANY REASON.   If there is a repair not done or other issue with your unit/property, you MUST continue to pay your rent when due.  Your remedy would be to send a 7 day notice to landlord to repair. And your remedy if not repaired within 7 days is to break the lease and move out; not withhold rent in any amount.

If landlord files an eviction lawsuit after a 3 day notice because tenant refused to pay rent due to landlord’s failure to repair, and tenant did not issue a 7 day notice and engages in self-help by withholding rent (or repairing him/herself and withholding rent), landlord WILL win the eviction.  See Lee v. Schweizer , 7 Fla L. Weekly Supp 750a, County Court Sarasota 2000.

Landlord will not repair x/y/z, and I did, can I get my money back or withhold rent?

Again, you can NEVER withhold rent, and it is unlikely you will get your money back for ANY money to put into a rental property as tenant; absent a preexisting agreement in writing with landlord (ie. if the washer broke and landlord said you can buy a new one and I will discount your rent that month or pay you back).   Your lease sets forth who is responsible to pay what; stick to these provisions.

Landlord or tenant have send notices via email/text.

Florida law DOES NOT YET recognize electronic communications, texts and emails, as satisfying statutory notice.  If you are required to send notice, in cases such as a security deposit or objection to claim on deposit, 7 days notice, etc., you must do so via US mail (certified mail recommended for proof of delivery).  A text or email likely WILL NOT preserve your legal rights as a landlord or tenant under Section 83 of the Florida Statutes.

What are the time frames regarding return of a security deposit?

This is another extremely common question.  Florida Statute states that the time begins to run ONCE tenant relinquishes possession of the property; typically when the keys are turned over.  Tenants should NOT move out and not give the keys back that same day and wait another week.  This may toll landlord’s time to notice you regarding the security deposit by one week as well.

Landlord has 15 days to return tenant’s security deposit if landlord is not making a claim upon it for damages to the property.  Landlord has 30 days to send a notice of claim on the deposit, along with any portion if the deposit that is undisputed.  Ie. if your deposit was $1,500 and landlord is claiming $300 to repair a hold in the drywall and repaint that area, landlord would return $1,200 as the undisputed portion.

Tenant then has 15 days from the landlord’s notice of claim to object in writing.

Landlord has not send me notice timely per the above time frames.

Landlord will have to return your deposit but CAN STILL sue you for damages to the property.  Not noticing you timely does not waive landlord’s claim to damages, ONLY landlord’s right to hold onto the deposit or a portion of it being claimed.

I objected to landlord’s claim, now what?

Now you sue.  Objecting in writing is simply your notice of objection to the claim.  Now you will have to pay the filing fee and costs to serve the landlord and let a judge decide.  You will also want to retain a lawyer.  If you have a solid case, landlord will also have to pay your attorney’s fees and cost’s back; even if the amount sued for is far less money than the attorney’s fees and costs.  Proportionality is not a consideration.

Landlord sold the property, does the new owner have to honor my lease?

Generally, yes.  If you are in the middle of a written lease term, the new owner will purchase the property subject to your lease.  Once it ends though, new owner has not duty to renew your lease or let you stay though.

If you are a month to month tenant with no written lease, it is up to new owner.  New owner can let you stay month to month, want you to sign a new lease, or want you out.  If landlord wants you to sign a lease and you refuse, you will have to vacate as landlord will issue a 15 day notice terminating your month to month tenancy. Same if new owner wants you out, it only requires a simple 15 day notice.

An eviction was filed against me in the past, can I have it removed from my public record/credit?

Items on your credit report will fall off naturally after 7 years like anything else; if landlord reports it which is uncommon except when you rent from bigger corporations.   You CANNOT remove an eviction from your public record or the court records though.  Once filed it is there forever.  That is why it is SO IMPORTANT to call a lawyer BEFORE an eviction is filed for advice and to pay your rent timely, and certainly before the 3 days is up in a 3 day notice.

I received a 3 day notice but did not pay before the 3 days is over (or after the eviction was filed in court), does landlord have to take my money and let me stay?

Unfortunately, no.  A 3 day notice states specifically you have 3 days to pay rent or vacate the property OR you will be sued.  If you pay the rent owed during the 3 days, then landlord MUST allow you to stay and CANNOT file eviction.

If you pay anytime after the 3rd day on the notice, or after the lawsuit is filed, then landlord has no duty to allow you to stay or dismiss the eviction case.  It is too late even if you then pay (and landlord is due that money anyway for past due rent).

This is probably the biggest misstep by tenants beyond not depositing the rent claimed in the complaint as due into the court registry before the 5 days to respond to the eviction lawsuit.  Pay your rent timely/before the 3 day notice is up if you want to stay!

How much notice does landlord need to give me to eviction?

With a lease for non-payment, the 3 day notice only.  A violation of the lease not for non-payment of rent is typically 7 days with opportunity to cure the violations, if curable.

For a verbal agreement or no written lease:

  • rent paid yearly- 60 days notice
  • rent is paid quarterly (rare in residential)- 30 days notice
  • rent paid monthly- 15 days notice
  • rent paid weekly- 7 days notice