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In a case of rodent infestation, the court ruled that where the landlord had made a reasonable effort to exterminate,  but was unsuccessful ,  the tenant was not entitled to withhold the rent. mice

Landlord has a contract with Truly Nolen to provide pest control to tenant once a month.

On July 2, 2002 tenant purchased mouse traps for $29.99 and an extermination contract with Orkin for $505.00.  On July 5, 2002,  tenant paid $588.26 of $750.00 rent, unilaterally deducting $161.74.

On July 11, 2002, tenant notified landlord for the first time of rodent infestation.   Landlord sends out Truly Nolan two times.

August 5, 2002,  tenant pays August rent in full and requests Landlord clean hallways.

August 6, 2002, landlord cleans hallways and patches suspected mouse  hole in tenants wall with foam sealer.

August 8 or 9, 2002 Landlord offers to pay $250 for a cleaning service of tenant’s choice.

August 19, 2002,  tenant serves landlord with a 7 day notice to clean up mouse droppings and repair or clean other items.  Landlord claimed to have said they responded to the 7-day notice by replacing foam sealer with wire mesh and plaster, and performing other cleanings/repairs.  Tenant  said this never happened.  Landlord offered tenant another apartment.  Tenant refused.

September 12, 2002  landlord serves tenant a 3 day notice to pay rent.    Tenant pays no rent for September, October and November, 2002.

Tenant  has Orkin out August 15 and September 19, 2002 to exterminate.

All attempts to exterminate mice have failed.  Tenant remains in possession.

The court rules that tenant was not justified in withholding  rent pursuant to her 7 day notice because §83.52(2) F.S. requires only that landlord “has a duty only to provide “reasonable provisions” for the extermination of rodents. The statute does not require the landlord to insure that no infestation shall occur.”  The court also stated “nowhere do the Florida Landlord Tenant Statutes permit a reduction or withholding of rent, unless the tenant is required to vacate the premises for extermination of the premises (not to exceed a 4 -7 day period, as the case may be), in which case the landlord must abate the rent.”

The court  awrded Landlord a judgment for all of the delinquent rent.

Tenant counter-claimed for the following:

A. Orkin Bill for a 1 year service contract, dated July 5, 2002. $505.00

B. Eckerds Bill for pest control products, dated July 2, 2002. $29.99

C. Ace Hardware bill. $37.64

D. Walgreens bill for trial photographs dated September 23, 2002. $10.64

E. Aussi Animal Hospital payment, no bill.Per testimony paid in October, 2002. $290.55

F. Demand for cleaning charges, date unspecified. $250.00

G. Credit for August Rent. $750.00

H. Credit for unspecified late charges. $150.00

I. Prepaid last month’s rent. $750.00

J. Security Deposit. $400.00

The court ruled that tenant waived items A and B by paying rent afterwards  according to  Section 83.56(5).

The court granted item c, making tenant the prevailing party on the counterclaim, and thus entitled to item D, a litigation expense.

Item E was denied as there was no evidence linking the illness of tenant’s dog to the Landlord’s actions.

Item F was denied as tenant had no receipts to back it up.  “Without presenting evidence of any out of pocket expenses for items purchased or any contract for cleaning services by another individual or company. Since no cleaning expense has been incurred, no damages can be awarded.”

Item G was denied as per above.

Item H denied as no late fees were awarded.

Items I & J denied as tenant remained in possession.

SPV REALTY, L.C. v. CLUTE, County Court, 11th Judicial Circuit in and for Miami Dade County, Civil Division. Case No. 02-18473 CC 05. December 13, 2002. 10 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 117b

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