A Tenant’s Right to Withhold Rent in Florida is not always straightforward.  They must be careful when deciding not to pay rent.  While it may appear that they are within their rights, they need to follow the requirements in Florida Statute.  Failure to comply can lead to eviction.  Therefore, if you believe that you have the right to withhold rent, contact the Law Office of Brian P. Kowal, PA.

When can a Tenant Withhold Rent?

Florida Law allows a Tenant to Withhold Rent under the following Circumstances.

1.     The Property fails to comply with the requirements of building, housing, and health codes.

  • The Property does not have proper Sanitation
  • Mold is growing throughout the property
  • The property lacks running water
  • There are Rodents and roaches that freely enter the property
  • The Property does not have operating plumbing

2.    The Landlord failed to maintain the roofs, windows, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior foundations, and all other structural components in good repair.              

3.   The Landlord fails to comply with their responsibilities and obligations in the lease.

Prior to signing the lease, the Landlord and Tenant agree to be responsible for various aspects of the property.  For example, in most residential leases, there is a section that lists whether the Landlord or Tenant is responsible. This includes:

A.   Smoke Detectors,

B.   Extermination of Rats,

C.   Hot Water

D.   Furniture

E.    Appliances

F.    Air Conditionig

G.    Garbage Removal

H.    Heating and Air Conditioning Filer

If the Landlord fails to comply with one of the areas that they agreed to be responsible for, the Tenant can withhold rent.

What Process Does A Tenant Need To Follow To Withhold Rent?

If a Tenant believes that a Landlord is in violation of the lease or Florida Statute, they can withhold rent. To properly withhold rent under Florida Statute Chapter 83.60, a Tenant must give their Landlord a 7 Day Notice. This has to occur 7 Days before the next rental period. For Example, if rent is due on the first of every month, and it’s 15th of March, the Tenant can give notice any day before March 24.

Can I Still Be Evicted although I timely served my Landlord a 7 Day Notice to Withhold Rent?

A Tenant can be within their rights to withhold rent and still face the threat of an Eviction. There is nothing stopping a Landlord from serving a 3 day notice to pay rent and subsequently filing an Eviction. On the other hand, if a Tenant properly withholds rent, they will likely be able to properly defend against the Eviction.   When a Tenant is served with the Eviction to Failure to pay rent, they can file a Motion to Determine Rent.  In addition, they should deposit the rent that the Landlord claims is owed  into the Court Registry. Thereafter, the Court will either set their Motion for Hearing or for Final Hearing.

At the Final Hearing, the Judge will determine if the Tenant properly withheld rent.   If the Court determines that the Tenant followed the law, there is a chance that the Court will rule in their favor.  As a result,  they will be able to remain in the property and possibly recover Attorney Fees if they were represented.

A Tenant’s Right to Withhold Rent in Florida is not absolute. Therefore, if you are believe you are within your rights to withhold rent, contact the Law Office of Brian P. Kowal, PA at (954) 990-7552.