Under Florida Statutes Section 83.51 the landlord is obligated to maintain the premises up to code, or if there is no applicable building code, to maintain the structure (including doors, windows and screens) and the plumbing in good working order. If the leased premises is a single family or duplex, the landlord may abrogate the duty to maintain in writing.
Unless, otherwise agreed to in writing, the landlord must also make reasonable provision for
- the extermination of insects and rodents. The tenant can be required to vacate for up to four days for extermination, upon the provision of seven days notice, and shall received prorated rent, but no other compensation.
- Locks and keys
- Clean and safe condition of the common areas
- Garbage receptacles and removal
- Heat and hot water
- Smoke detectors
The landlord may charge for garbage removal, water, and utilities.
Raising failure to maintain as a defense.
Florida Statutes Section 83.56 provides that if the landlord fails to comply with §83.51 FS within 7 days of being served with a notice of non-compliance (7 day notice to cure), the tenant may terminate the lease. If, however, the condition is due to causes beyond the landlord’s control and the landlord has made reasonable efforts to remedy them the following applies:
- Premises is untenable & tenant vacates: tenant not liable for rent.
- Premises tenable & tenant does not vacate: the rent shall be reduced in proportion to the loss of rental value caused by the non-compliance.
In MURPHY vs. LOGIUDICE, Palm Beach County Court 2009, 16 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 966a, the parties entered into a one year lease for a single family house in October 2007. The tenants issued the landlord a 7 day notice to repair the air conditioner, provide screens, and exterminate roaches on March 5, 2008. Tenant continued in possession and paid rent March through May, 2008. At the end of May the tenants vacated the premises. In determining whether the landlord’s alleged breach as a material breach the court cited to Putnam v. Roudebash, 352 So.2d 908 (Fla. 2nd DCA 1977) held that:
The test of the breach is an objective one, i.e., whether the premises met ordinary, normal standards reasonably to be expected of living quarters of comparable kind and quality.
The court found that as the premises as a 4/3 and that as the alleged AC problem on affected one bedroom and one bath, and as the landlord had paid for professional AC repairs twice, that the violation not a material breach. Further the court found the tenant had waived their claim of breach by continuing to pay the rent for three more months [See Pilver v. Lenox Realty Associates, LTD., 11 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 968b (13th Jud. Cir. Appellate 2004)].
Tenant’s deduction of $187 from rent payment rejected by court when landlord performed repairs within three days of receipt of seven day notice to cure. Eviction for non-payment of rent granted. Deposit of entire amount claimed into the court registry did not cure non-timely payment. MAZEL HOUSING, INC., Plaintiff, vs. PROBKEVITZ, Dade County Court 1994, 2 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 343a.
To raise this as a defense to the non-payment of rent, the tenant must:
- Have issued the landlord a 7 day notice which expired before any 3 day notice served by the landlord expired. §83.51.1 defense may only be raised if tenant has issued landlord a 7 day notice, and is to be heard under a §83.60(2) rent determination hearing, [ MAZON, v. PARKER, Sarasota County Court, 2000 8 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 116a].
- Raise the defense in the tenant’s answer and make a motion for rent determination in the tenant’s answer. In CORDOVA v. CARRANZA, Dade County Court 2009, 16 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 960a, the tenant raised failure to maintain as a defense to nonpayment of rent, but did not move for rent determination or post the rent claimed. The court ruled that 83.51 is a defense other than payment and thus §83.60(2) require the tenant to post the rent into the court registry, and having failed to do so, the landlord was entitled to an automatic default.