Tenant Law in Florida
The relationship between a landlord and tenant in Tampa, Florida can occasionally be a touchy one. Landlords and tenants are not always clear on their respective rights and obligations.
Landlords and tenants have to navigate a web of legal rights and commitments. It's essential that the parties to a landlord/tenant relationship know what obligations they have to one another.
Landlord's Rights in Tampa, FL
The most important and most evident right that a landlord has is the right to timely payment of rent from the tenant. This, of course, means that the tenant has a duty to pay rent.
They also have a right to compensation for any damage that a tenant causes, beyond ordinary wear and tear. Landlords are free to bill the tenants for repairs to damage they caused, and deduct the cost from the security deposit.
Tenant's Rights in Tampa, FL
Tenants, most essentially, have a right to a habitable apartment. After all, this is what they're paying for. Tampa, Florida landlords are obligated to see that the units they rent to tenants are fit to be lived in by people. Many different defects might render an apartment uninhabitable, such as serious infestations and other problems with sanitation, lack of running water or electricity, or failure to provide adequate protection from the outside elements.
Tenants also have a right to ensure that the common areas of their apartment building are reasonably safe. Landlords are required to make sure that the common areas of their buildings meet Tampa, Florida's building codes, and that there are no conditions that create unnecessary safety hazards. They are obligated to make, at their own expense, the necessary repairs.
Under federal and Florida law, tenants are also entitled to protection against discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, marital status, or gender. Such discrimination can lead to grave civil penalties against the landlord. Landlords also cannot discriminate against tenants based on physical disability, and have to make reasonable accommodations for physically disabled tenants. For instance, they have to allow disabled tenants to make minor physical alterations to the unit (at the tenant's expense) to make it more accessible. Now, they don't need to allow the tenants to have the building remodeled. We're just talking about things like installing handrails in the bathroom, and similar things. The landlord can, however, require tenants to restore the apartment to its original condition, at the tenant's expense, once the tenant leaves.
Tenants are also legally safeguarded from unfair eviction. Before a lease agreement expires, landlords cannot evict tenants unless they breach as significant term of the agreement by not paying rent, causing serious damage to the property, engaging in activities that are a nuisance to the other tenants, or engaging in illegal activity on the property, among other things.
Can a Tampa, Florida Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Tenants and landlords always want to avoid getting into any serious disputes - these disputes interfere with the tenant's living arrangement, and the landlord's business. In short, they help nobody. While a good Tampa, Florida attorney can definately help his or her client prevail in such a dispute, they may be more essential for their ability to help prevent such disputes from escalating in the first place.