According to landlords, there are many things tenants do that irritate landlords—even unintentionally. Fortunately for tenants, Florida’s law attempts to protect tenants from these irritated landlords who may be tempted to take revenge against an unsuspecting tenant.
Tenants, who in good faith, engage in the following activities are provided with some protection under Florida law:
- Becoming a member or supporting or creating a tenant’s union or other organization.
- Complaining to a government or other housing authority about a building, health or safety violation at the property.
- Giving, as a service person, the landlord the required notice to terminate the rental agreement based on a deployment, a change in station, a release from active duty or any other reason under §83.682 of Florida’s Residential Landlord & Tenant
- Pursuing another legal right granted to them under Federal law, under the Florida Residential Landlord & Tenant, or by the lease agreement itself.
- Pursuing a right granted to the tenant by local or Federal Fair Housing laws.
- Complaining to the landlord or another government or local agency about the landlord’s failure to meet his or her obligations under the Florida Residential Landlord & Tenant Act..
- Paying rent to a condo or other homeowners’ association after the organization demanded the tenant pay the rent to the association because the landlord has failed to pay its association dues.
A Florida landlord has a legal right to take certain actions, such as increasing a tenant’s rent. However, if these actions are done with the sole purpose of seeking revenge against a tenant, the action will be considered an act of retaliation.
In response to the above, some landlords retaliate by doing the following:
- Increasing a tenant’s rent.
- Decreasing services to the tenant.
- Filing eviction actions against the tenant. This is considered a retaliatory eviction.
- Refusing to make needed repairs.
- Harassing and/or intimating the tenant to get the tenant to leave.
- Changing the locks on the tenants’ doors or actually physically removing the tenant’s possessions from their unit.
What should the tenant do?
If a tenant believes that a landlord has retaliated against him or her, the tenant can file legal action against the landlord. The tenant must be able to show proof that they were discriminated against in some way. The tenant must show that the landlord has singled them out and is not following the same procedures for all similarly-situated tenants.
If Landlord Found Guilty of Retaliation:
If the landlord is found to have committed an act of retaliation, the court may award the tenant the ability to stay in the rental if they so choose, the ability to terminate the lease if they so choose and/or monetary damages.