Paul Ryan

Attorney at Law, P.A
941-655-8970

Landlord -Tenant Law

Here in the Sunshine State, much of the economy is driven by residential property rental from people and companies who own rent these dwellings as business enterprises or investments. These rental agreements can be short term leases by snowbirds, and others may be long term residential leases.

While rental agencies and landlords use various rental leases that often have different terms all over the state, each party to a rental agreement has rights under Florida Statutes. What rights are absolute under the law, and what rights can be bargained for or be improved on can be very confusing and get quite complex.

Drafting leases

At my office, I draft both long and short term residential leases that define and specify the rights of both the landlord and the tenant, while taking into account Florida laws that dictate specific unalienable rights.

The goal is to draft a lease that anticipates the specific and unique needs of each landlord tenant agreement, and clearly state each party’s rights in precise language that is clearly understandable to both parties, and that will be successful in enforcing these rights in the event of dispute.

I offer personalized drafting service that will take into account the particular intricacies of the rental property involved, and specialized lease terms for unique rental issues. The whole idea is to make it clear for both parties from the start. Problem solving is often best addressed before a problem even exists!

Eviction/Recoupment

Florida law mandates very specific procedures for evicting a nonpaying tenant, or a tenant who is breaching the rental contract. A simple uncontested eviction proceeding against a defaulting tenant can be done quite quickly, often well within 1 month from the date of retaining legal representation, and attorney’s fees that are actually less than the county court costs and sheriff fees.

The county court filing fee in Charlotte County is $185.00, with $10.00 per defendant (tenant) summons, plus a service fee which can be in excess of $50.00 per defendant (tenant) and a Sheriff’s fee of $90.00 to serve a Writ of Possession enforcing the court order for removal.

My office requires a $1500. minimal retainer, but often an uncontested eviction will actually cost less. Unfortunately, tenants can sometimes file a legal defense which must be overcome.

Florida law also allows recovery from a nonpaying or lease breaking tenant which may be pursued through a court process. This type of proceeding is only worthwhile if the nonpaying or lease breaking tenant has assets or the means to pay a potential court judgment against them.

If the tenant is judgment-proof, or has no assets or other means or motivation to pay a court judgment against them, then this type of proceeding may not be cost effective to pursue – it all depends on whether a judgment can be collected. My office offers recoupment/ for breach of lease contract legal action.

Security Deposit

Florida statute 83.49 contains very specific and demanding requirements relative to a landlord’s acceptance, maintenance and claims against tenant security deposits. Failure to comply with these provisions can result in costly actions against landlords for recovery of improperly withheld security deposits so both landlords and tenants need to be aware of their respective rights under this law. Please contact my office if you would like to discuss any aspect of Security Deposit handling or claims against it, whether you are a landlord or a tenant.

Tenant Rights

A landlord has a duty to provide a tenant with a habitable residence. Failure to do so may allow the tenant to terminate the lease and recover damages. There are a wide range of possible reasons why a residence becomes uninhabitable, from failure to provide reasonable maintenance, to failure to provide a means to obtain water, to health and building code violations. These are just some examples. If you believe you can no longer live at your rented residence due to a failure of the landlord to maintain it in a habitable condition, please call my office to discuss the issues and see if I can help you.

Military Service

Florida Statutes provide that any member of the United States Armed Forces who is required to move (due to a change of station orders of 35 or more miles) prematurely or involuntarily discharged or released from active duty, or who dies during active duty, may terminate the rental agreement. In the event an armed services member dies during active duty, his immediate family may terminate the rental agreement by providing military documentation. This notice must be provided in writing.

The Florida Uniformed Service Members Protection Act provided that a landlord may not discriminate against a member of the United States Armed Forces, and in the event such discrimination occurs, the penalty may include civil damages.

If you are a member of the armed services, and you feel you have been discriminated against because of your military service, give my office a call. Maybe I can help.