Landlord Liability: What You Need To Know

Anytime a dwelling is rented out to an individual, even without a formal lease, both parties are entering into a tenant-landlord agreement. As the property owner or landlord, through this agreement, you have certain legal rights and responsibilities as defined by the Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act.

As a property management company in Tampa, FL, we highly recommend creating a lease agreement to define terms outside of the statute, but it is important to understand that even with a written contract in place, terms defined by Florida law can not be overruled. To understand your rights, our Tampa property management team has outlined some important aspects of the Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act.

LANDLORD PROPERTY DUTIES

Before renting your property, by law, the dwelling is required to meet all building, housing, and health codes before taking on a tenant. This includes creating a safe living environment with properly functioning locks on all windows and doors. The roof, exterior walls, and foundation should be structurally sound, and the dwelling should be free from pests and bugs. Once a tenant moves into the property, it is the landlord’s duty to maintain a safe environment. Should repairs be necessary, it is the financial responsibility of the landlord to make these repairs.

TENANT’S PRIVACY RIGHTS

Once a tenant moves into a property, it is theirs to lawfully reside in during the time of the lease. They have a right to privacy and the landlord may only enter the property to make agreed upon repairs or for walk-through inspections to ensure the dwelling is being properly maintained. The landlord must visit the property at a convenient time and provide at least a 12 hour notice. The only exception is in the case of an emergency. It is also important to note, a landlord may never remove a tenant’s property or lock them out from entering the dwelling, even after the lease is up or a tenant has been evicted. This may only be done through a sheriff officer after a Court Order or Writ of Notice. If the tenant leaves and removes their belongings before the lease is up, the property is considered abandoned and the landlord may enter the dwelling after 15 days. It is still recommended to consult with an attorney in this case.

TENANT EVICTIONS

If a tenant has violated the terms of a lease for delinquent rental payments, purposeful damage to the property, or other terms defined in the agreement, you may only remove the tenant after first serving the tenant with document(s) outlining the violation. If these notices are ignored, you may file a complaint with the court, who will serve the tenant with a formal legal complaint for the violation. Five business days after the complaint has been served, the next step is to request a hearing. Only a judge can grant a court order to evict the tenant. Once served, the tenant must remove their property within 24 hours. If they refuse, a sheriff may come to the property to remove the tenant or supervise the removal of their property from the dwelling.

As a Tampa property management company, we understand taking on the role of a landlord can be a full time commitment. To ensure you are conducting your landlord duties within the terms defined by Florida law, we recommend consulting with an attorney or experienced property manager in your area.

To learn more about your rights and responsibilities as a landlord, and the benefits of hiring a property management company, please give us a call at (813)968-5665.