Florida law grants tenants certain rights, regardless of whether the landlord is an individual or a corporation, and whether or not there is a written rental agreement. If there is a written rental agreement, Florida law will be applied to resolve any conflict in terms between the rental agreement and Florida Statutes. The tenant has the right to live peacefully and have privacy once they rent the property. If there is ever a court proceeding involving the landlord and the tenant, the tenant has the absolute right to be present, argue their case, and have an attorney represent them.
The most obvious responsibility of the tenant is to pay their rent in full at the agreed-upon time. The tenant must keep the property clean and in an undamaged condition, save for normal wear and tear, and to maintain the plumbing. It is the responsibility of the tenant to comply with all local housing, health, and building codes. The tenant may not disturb the peace or violate any laws, nor allow any guests to violate laws or disturb the peace while in the property.
If the tenant moves out and the landlord decides to keep all or a portion of the security deposit, the tenant has the right to object to the landlord’s claim on the security deposit, in writing, within 15 days of receiving the landlord’s written notice that not all of the security deposit will be returned. If it is found that the tenant should have their security deposit returned in full, they may be eligible to collect interest in addition to the full amount of their security deposit. The tenant has the responsibility to provide the landlord with an address where the landlord can send the tenant’s security deposit. If the tenant fails to provide this, they could lose their right to object if the landlord keeps the security deposit due to an inability to return it.
Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes permits tenants to withhold rent under certain circumstances. The Florida Bar, has noted this right “under certain very aggravated circumstances by the landlord’s neglect,” the right to withhold rent. The landlord must fail to comply with an important responsibility, and the tenant must have given seven days written notice to the landlord regarding the problem. Even if the landlord does not get the problem fixed within those seven days, it is important that the tenant save the rent money and get permission from the court to spend the money toward fixing the problem. If the tenant spends the money to fix the problem without first being granted permission by the court, they could be evicted by their landlord for nonpayment.
Another obvious right of the tenant is the right to move out. There may be specifications as to when and how much notice needs to be given so review an agreement carefully to ensure compliance.
There are many more rights and responsibilities one has as a tenant. For a full description of residential tenant rights, see Florida Statutes Part II, Chapter 83: Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act. In addition, if a tenant lives in rental housing that is federally subsidized, the tenant has certain rights under federal law as well that govern that particular lease.