A Tenant has the Right to Withhold Rent but it must be done in accordance the Law

A Tenant’s Right to Withhold Rent in Florida is not always straightforward.  They must be careful when deciding not to pay.  While it may appear that they are within their rights, they need to follow the law.  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?

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

  • No Sanitation
  • Mold is growing
  • No running water
  • Rodents and roaches freely enter
  • No 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 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 if the Landlord or Tenant is responsible. This includes:

A.   Smoke Detectors,

B.   Extermination of Rats,

C.   Hot Water

D.   Furniture

E.    Appliances

F.    Air Conditioning

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 they believe that a Landlord is in violation of the lease or Florida Statute, they can withhold rent. To properly withhold rent under 83.60, they must give a 7 Day Notice. This must occur 7 Days before the next rental period. For Example, if rent is due on April 1, and it’s the 15th of March, they can give notice any day before March 24.

Can they still be evicted if they timely served a 7 Day Notice to Withhold Rent?

They 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 and filing an Eviction. On the other hand, if they properly withhold rent, they will be able to defend against it.   When they are served with an Eviction for Failure to Pay, they can file a Motion to Determine Rent.  In addition, they should deposit the amount the Landlord claims is owed into the Registry. Thereafter, the Court will set their Motion for Hearing or for Final Hearing.

At the Hearing, the Judge will determine if they properly withheld rent.   If they determine that they followed the law, there is a chance that they will rule in their favor.  As a result, they will be able to remain in the property and possibly recover Attorney Fees.  On the other hand, if the process is not followed, the Court will rule for the Landlord.

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.