Question about Renter's Rights in Florida

Discussion in 'Rentals - Vacation' started by Hoosier, Oct 28, 2009.

  1. Hoosier

    Hoosier Beach Crab

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    I have a question that I can't seem to find the answer to, so hopefully one of you knowledgeable folks can help!

    I rent a single family home in SRB and we have lived here for a year and a 1/2. Ever since we moved in, our subdivision's street has flooded with even the slightest suggestion of rain (our neighbors sprinklers create puddles at the end of our driveway). Now, when I say that it floods, I mean it literally comes up high enough to cover the tailpipes of our vehicles. The water stays for about a week every time it rains (and yes, it is currently flooded in front of my home). It is to the point that in order to get into our vehicles that we must roll up our pants and take off our shoes to get in the cars and the garbage men will not collect our trash even if we manage to get it out to the curb because of the excessive water.

    We have complained numerous times to our rental agency who has passed the information on to the owner. We continue to be told that it is 'being worked on' even though the problem persists, and worsens.
    After talking to some of my neighbors, I've found out that it seems to be a problem with the HOA because so many homes in our subdivision are in foreclosure. Apparently there are pumps in the development that need to be fixed and the collective owners are unwilling to shell out the $10,000 that is said to be needed to repair the problem.

    So, the question is, what kind of rights do I have as a responsible renter? I feel like we have given them more than ample opportunity to fix this persistent problem. I've reviewed the Florida Renter's handbook, but I'm not really sure where to go next. Is there an agency that handles this type of thing? Thanks in advance!

    FYI- We do have every intention of moving at the end of our lease, we simply cannot tolerate the problem any longer since it has gotten increasingly worse during our time here.
     
  2. rolling dune

    rolling dune Beach Lover

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    I am really sorry to hear of this. It appears that you were leased into an unforseen circumstance. I would think that you might possibly have an out in the lease agreement as this is an occurance that is in no way any fault of yours.
     
  3. Here4Good

    Here4Good Beach Fanatic

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    If I had to guess, I would say that renters have no protection in Florida, since consumer protection does not exist in the laws of this state.

    However, I would read your lease very carefully. Look for clauses which would apply in your situation. I am sure than there are lawyers in town who would be willing to sit down with you for 30 minutes for a small fee.

    I would also hold the rental agency responsible, I know that they may not be LEGALLY responsible, but trust me, they knew about this. We all know about this. You live in Driftwood Estates, right?
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2009
  4. Franny

    Franny Beach Fanatic

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    I do not know renters rights in the state of Florida, but I do know there have been numerous flood problems in Driftwood. My question for you is did you sign a second year lease? If so, the owner could say you knew about the problem and signed another lease. I do hope you are able to break your lease and move, sounds like a horrible situation.
     
  5. Desso

    Desso Beach Lover

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    Although there may be no specific rights assigned to the tenant by the lease, there is the expectation of "reasonable" enjoyment and safety by the tenant of the property. A situation created through negligence or inability to maintain property by leasor is grounds for the lease to be terminated. Notify the leasor and rental agency with certified letters outlining your situation, allowing appropriate time for response, and informing them of your intention to vacate the property unless these issues can be resolved. Do give, at least, a 30 day notice if you intend to vacate property and make sure rent is paid on time. Do take photos of problem, keep a journal outlining in detail the days and time of flooding, and your efforts to address and correct problem. More than likely the leasor will keep your deposit if you break the lease, and that will be another issue to address legally if need be. I have found the courts to be sympathetic to tenants who pay their rent and find themselves in"unreasonable" circumstances they cannot control or can no longer live with. I am not an attorney and this is not intended as legal advice, just neighborly suggestions. Good luck.
     
  6. seagrovegirl

    seagrovegirl Beach Fanatic

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    Actually, my experience as a property manager has shown me that tenants have more rights than the landlord.

    My suggestion ( I am not an attorney) is to write the rental agency of your intention to move and the expectation that you will get your deposit back. If they let you out of the lease without penalty, your problem is over.

    If the agency will not let you out of the lease, call the Walton Co. Clerk of Court for guidance and file a suit to be seen by a judge. Usually you will pay your rent to the clerk of court until the outcome is decided by a judge. The court cost is minimal, but it may take months for a resolution. Have you had the opportunity to speak with the landlord directly??
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2009
  7. 30A Skunkape

    30A Skunkape Mr. Small Box

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    Renter's rights beyond those clearly outlined in a lease kick in once they stop paying rent, seemingly.

    SGG has a great suggestion. Make some legal noise and pay your rent to the clerk of court. There is no quicker catalyst to resolving a problem than your landlord not getting paid, and technically, having the clerk hold your rent in good faith while there is a pending legal issue is upholding your end of the lease.
     
  8. beachmouse

    beachmouse Beach Fanatic

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    Go to one of the local big box bookstores. I know B&N has a couple of shelves of books about doing business in Florida, complete with a landlord/tennant book or three. I'd assume Borders and BAM have similar offerings.

    Even if you don't buy, still worth a browse to get an idea of renter legal rights in the state.
     
  9. seagrovegirl

    seagrovegirl Beach Fanatic

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    www.co.walton.fl.us click on clerk of court. Or call and speak with a clerk, they are a wealth of information on what your options are.
     
  10. Hoosier

    Hoosier Beach Crab

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    Thank you so much for all of your good tips. I actually don't live in Driftwood, but Driftwood is rather close to my neighborhood.
    I haven't had a chance to speak with the owner of the home directly, I have all of my communication through the leasing company.
    I think my next step will be to contact the County Clerk. I have several pictures of the flooding (we actually even took them up to the leasing agency) but I haven't been keeping a good record of the pictures & dates... until now!
    Thank you so much for your suggestions :)
     
  11. ShallowsNole

    ShallowsNole Beach Fanatic

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    Hoosier, your best bet is to contact an attorney. The Clerk of Court cannot give any legal advice, or even any suggestions as to what you should do or how to approach this. They do have paperwork for a residential eviction, which would be the landlord against the tenant, and also small claims court, but it doesn't sound like either of those would address your situation.

    Right now, though, we have a storm coming and you might be best served by protecting your belongings and getting ready to take more pictures and/or video. Good luck!
     

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