The landlord in a section 8 subsidized lease failed to repair leaking plumbing fixtures. The tenant complained to section 8. Section 8 issued a demand that the landlord fix the plumbing. The landlord did not make the repairs. Section 8 declared the lease to have been breached and ordered the tenant out of the property. The landlord objected and requested a review with section 8, but the landlord did not show up at the meeting. The tenant vacated and then sued the landlord for their hotel bill while they were waiting for new section 8 housing and for their security deposit. The landlord claimed for unpaid late fees and damage to the property. The court ruled that as the landlord was the one that was in breach of the lease the tenant did not automatically forfeit their security deposit. As the landlord had make the written claim by certified mail within 30 days and as the tenant had objected in writing within 15 days neither side had waived their claim to the deposit. The court held an evidentiary hearing as to the damages and ruled that items such as carpet cleaning, driveway and patio cleaning, and painting “are in the nature of ordinary wear and tear which are the responsibility of the landlord.” The court found that the landlord failed to present credible evidence of any other damage, but noted that the photographs of the premises did support the section 8 finding of failure to repair the plumbing. As to the late fees, the lease required that the landlord provide written notice of the assessment of late fees, which the landlord had not done. So the late fees were denied, and the Tenant awarded the return of their entire security deposit plus a money judgment for the hotel bills.
BURLEY vs. MATEO. County Court, 17th Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County. Case No. 10-17638 COWE, Division 81. March 2, 2011. Jane D. Fishman, Judge. 18 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 624a