The biggest issue Landlords face is Tenants that fail to pay rent. While it can be frustrating, the consequences can be worse if they start cutting off services. Accordingly, a Landlord cannot turn off Tenant Utilities if they fail to pay rent. If you unsure about your rights as a Landlord, contact the Law Office of Brian P. Kowal, PA at (954) 990-7552. We will help you make educated decisions regarding your relationship with your Tenant.
Why a Landlord cannot turn off Tenant Utilities
When a Tenant fails to pay, a Landlord’s stress increases. As a result, they lose rental income and spend money filing an Eviction. This can lead to the deterioration of their relationship with the Tenant. However, this does not give them the right to turn off the Tenant’s Utilities. In fact, 83.67 states the following:
(1) A landlord of any dwelling unit governed by this part shall not cause, directly or indirectly, the termination or interruption of any utility service furnished the tenant, including, but not limited to, water, heat, light, electricity, gas, elevator, garbage collection, or refrigeration, whether or not the utility service is under the control of, or payment is made by, the landlord.
In other words, even if the Landlord pays for the utilities for the Tenant or the account is in their name, they still cannot terminate the services.
What is the Penalty if a Landlord turns off Utilities?
Some Landlords believe that turning off utilities will cause their Tenant to move. While this may occur, it is still illegal. Florida Statute states:
(6) A landlord who violates any provision of this section shall be liable to the tenant for actual and consequential damages or 3 months’ rent, whichever is greater, and costs, including attorney’s fees. Subsequent or repeated violations that are not contemporaneous with the initial violation shall be subject to separate awards of damages.
In other words, if a Court determines that the Landlord terminated the utilities, they can award a Tenant three month’s rent plus fees and costs. This can be financially devastating. Therefore, to avoid these circumstances, contact the Law Office of Brian P. Kowal, PA at (954) 990-7552.