“Rent” is Just a Semi-Entertaining Broadway Show, but “Repairs” Would be More Interesting

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Apparently, we are in the midst of national, and presumably regional, recovery.  Apparently.  But until happy days return to the local real estate market, there will always be an inversely influential landlord’s market.  A perhaps unforeseen byproduct of the foreclosure crisis is the significant demand that has arisen for rental properties, as so many people have been driven from their now unaffordable homes by the very banks that likely induced them to buy.  As such, thousands of people in Central Florida and in Lake County are left looking for a temporary option in the form of a short-to-medium term rental.  This increased demand has, predictably, driven up the average rental price for single family units all over the region.

The crisis has also allowed for the unfortunate proliferation of the unscrupulous landlord.  Many tenants are moving into property that is in distress, disrepair, or in various other forms of dilapidation.  When the innocent tenant makes the modest request that his landlord engage a repairman, the tenant is often met with a cold shoulder, or worse.  When the tenant communicates a desire to make the repairs himself, the landlord might resist, might do nothing, or might reply by borrowing from George Thorogood: “That don’t befront me none, so long as I get my rent on Friday.”

The fact is, in the absence of a written division of responsibilities, most repair work is the duty of the landlord.  However, Chapter 83 Section II of Florida Statutes gives the tenant the right to make reasonable repairs when the landlord is either unable or unwilling to make the repairs he’s supposed to, provided that the landlord has reasonable notice (seven days) of the tenant’s intent.  Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the tenant can then deduct the cost of the repairs from the monthly rent owed to the landlord, so long as those repairs are the landlord’s responsibility under the lease or under Florida law. Contact the firm’s real estate division to learn more about available defense strategies and other options available to you under Florida law.

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