Generally you need a material breach of the landlord’s duties to withhold rent. It is most commonly used when the landlord fails to make repairs or maintain the property according to the following statute:
83.51 Landlord’s obligation to maintain premises.
- The landlord at all times during the tenancy shall:
- Comply with the requirements of applicable building, housing, and health codes; or
- Where there are no applicable building, housing, or health codes, maintain the roofs, windows, screens, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, foundations, and all other structural components in good repair and capable of resisting normal forces and loads and the plumbing in reasonable working condition. However, the landlord shall not be required to maintain a mobile home or other structure owned by the tenant.
The landlord’s obligations under this subsection may be altered or modified in writing with respect to a single-family home or duplex.
- (a) Unless otherwise agreed in writing, in addition to the requirements of subsection (1), the landlord of a dwelling unit other than a single-family home or duplex shall, at all times during the tenancy, make reasonable provisions for:
1. The extermination of rats, mice, roaches, ants, wood-destroying organisms, and bedbugs. When vacation of the premises is required for such extermination, the landlord shall not be liable for damages but shall abate the rent. The tenant shall be required to temporarily vacate the premises for a period of time not to exceed 4 days, on 7 days’ written notice, if necessary, for extermination pursuant to this subparagraph.
2. Locks and keys.
3. The clean and safe condition of common areas.
4. Garbage removal and outside receptacles therefor.
5. Functioning facilities for heat during winter, running water, and hot water.
If the landlord fails to maintain the property, the tenant can withhold rent, but must first provide written notice to the landlord, seven days in advance, that they intend to withhold rent if the problem is not repaired. They can also give seven days’ notice of intent to terminate the lease. The most common result of this action is that the landlord files an eviction action so it is very important that the tenant keep copies of all notices to the landlord and any other documents related to the matter.
About the Author
This blog is the creation of Central Florida attorney Dennis Chen. He has been practicing law in Florida for over ten years and is also admitted to practice law in Texas. He has handled evictions for both commercial & residential landlords and also has extensive experience representing tenants. He can be reached at email@example.com or in his Office - Orlando, FL