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Problem Landlord?

           Nothing is more disturbing during a much-needed night’s sleep than loud music that tears through your walls. You’re probably exhausted from a long, yet relaxing Sunday. In a few hours, the Monday sun will rise, and the rush of getting the kids to school and making sure you arrive to work on time brings up a feeling that’s close to dread. However, as the dying minutes of 2 A.M. ticks by, you’re awakened by blaring music. Your yard is overgrown with weeds in the yard with 5 more shattered beer bottles that made it over your small, and broken fence. Yet, your landlord has assured you that the weeds would be pulled last week, the fence would be fixed the day before that and that something would be done about the loud music coming from your neighbor upstairs. What you have is a “problem” landlord.

            Earlier this month, The St. Petersburg Tribune published an article that expressed the concerns of one St. Pete resident who had been going through the same problems. In response, the city sought to help their tenants. Very recently, The St. Petersburg Tribune reported that City Council Member Darden Rice proposed to create a registry of “bad apple” landlords. Landlords who “fail to make repairs, clean up trash on properties or deal with problem tenants,” can be put on the “list” if they rack up three code violations in a single year. Landlords who are placed on this “list” would be “prevented from applying for city incentives such as grants to improve properties,” reported the Tribune.

            While the response from central Florida’s legislative leaders are great, it is important to note that tenants can seek immediate legal counsel now. Seeking the counsel of an attorney does not automatically mean expensive trials and courtrooms. Seeking the advice of an experienced attorney who handles both sides of Florida’s Landlord-Tenant relationship is extremely valuable because it lets the tenant know their rights and responsibilities early on and can teach tenants how to seek alternative solutions to dealing with the “problem landlord.”

            The most important thing that every tenant should do is to document everything. Despite the problems with your property, your landlord can actually be a decent person, who has a great personality and can be sympathetic. Or he can be really horrible. The thing is, whether your landlord is a great or horrible person to deal with, avoid verbal agreements. Always save copies of your lease and all correspondence that can help you support a claim in court if it comes to it. Sending a stern, yet polite letter to your landlord, and then saving a copy of that letter, could only help you with your image in the court should a dispute reach trial.

            Making the decision to rent a property (other than buying a house) is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make in your life, because the type of landlord you have not only affects how you live, but also how your family lives as well. It is important to remember that tenants have rights too. Landlords may have a lot of power and authority in dealing with the property they lease to you, but they also have an obligation to provide timely repairs and ensure that the property is a safe living environment for you and your family. That being said, any questions or doubts that you may have about a specific term or clause in the lease should be asked to an attorney experienced in Landlord-Tenant Law.

            Other than the terms of your lease, Part 2 of Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes also controls your landlord-tenant relationship. If you want to know how to enforce your rights as a tenant, you can find them in section 51.011 of the Florida Statutes. Filling out the appropriate forms can be found in the Clerk’s Office for individuals filing landlord-tenant actions on their own behalf.  However, dealing with a landlord-tenant dispute can be very stressful and can affect your life and the lives of your family considerably. Dealing with statutes and filing forms can be confusing and add more to the stress.

At the King Law Firm, your wellbeing is our first priority. Nothing is more assuring than an attorney who knows what he or she is doing.  If you’re contemplating a lawsuit or would otherwise want to deal with a less drastic measure, please call on us at the King Law Firm. We can guide you towards a reasonable solution, or otherwise advocate for you, so that you can get a better night’s sleep.

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