Florida renters should understand their rights and their landlord’s responsibilities

Even though landlords are sometimes dishonest with their tenants, there are a number of things that they cannot do based on state law and the terms of your lease agreement regardless of what they say. 

A brief guide to renting an apartment or home in Florida

  • The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services provides some basic information about landlord tenant law that is meant to protect renters and inform them of their rights in Fort Walton Beach and other cities. 
  • When renting, it is important for the tenant to inspect a property and note any issues that may affect their ability to live normally. The tenant can ask for these problems to be fixed before moving in. If the landlord does not want to make necessary repairs or any accommodations, it may not be a good idea to rent that particular unit. 
  • If something goes wrong, it is useful to take pictures or videos of the area that is problematic or in a state of disrepair in case this needs to be used as evidence at a later date. 
  • The lease agreement is a binding document, and it is important to read it over before you sign it. If you do know understand something in the lease contract, do not sign it until you know exactly what you are getting into. Most leases bind the renter to these terms for a year at a time. 
  • Security deposits can be another problem area for tenants. It is important to not pay any of this money up front until you are certain that you will be moving in. When moving out, a landlord has to give you notice of any amount from the deposit that they intend to keep and explain why. You will have a period of time to contest the reasons and the amount they are keeping. In most cases, landlords should not keep more than a small amount of the deposit for cleaning and maintenance unless something was damaged. Also, be careful of language in a lease or other documentation that says a deposit is non-refundable. 
  • While landlords may agree to certain things by simply discussing them with a tenant, it is important to get any important terms in writing. It will be difficult to prove an agreement in court without any kind of written documentation. The law in Florida also requires that any changes or legal notices must be in writing and either mailed or delivered to the tenant in person. 
  • The law also imposes certain legal requirements on the landlord, and the tenant may withhold rent or take other actions if these are violated. These include following all health and building codes, along with keeping the property free of major defects that would make the unit uninhabitable. If the property is mortgaged, the landlord should be making regular payments to avoid foreclosure

Learn more about the local laws

There are Fort Walton Beach tenant rights attorneys who can assist you with taking legal action against a landlord. To learn more, contact the professionals at ASG Legal

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