Before attempting to hold a landlord accountable for making repairs, providing pest control, providing quiet enjoyments, etc. under Fla. Stat. s. 83.56, you should determine your ultimate goal. Is your ultimate goal to terminate the lease and move out as quickly as you can?
Or is this process merely a strategy to attempt to convince the landlord to comply with the lease or law? If so, if the landlord fails to make the repairs, will you stay in the rental home and pay the rent (thereby avoiding an eviction but waiving your right to complain)? Or, if you stay, will you continue to withhold rent (thereby avoiding a waiver but risking the landlord filing an eviction)?
Terminating the Lease and Immediately Moving (avoiding the filing of an eviction and avoiding waiver)
Most tenants embark on this journey because they have had enough! They want out of the situation where a landlord fails to take their health or the contract/lease seriously. Moreover, when a landlord fails to comply with the lease, the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act requires (and strongly encourages) tenants to terminate the lease and move.
After moving, the landlord will have thirty (30) days to return your security deposit. If the landlord imposes a claim against your security deposit for the early lease termination, we will file a lawsuit challenging such under the appropriate circumstances. However, if the landlord fails to impose a claim against the security deposit for the lease termination, the landlord will likely be waiving the right to do so. Therefore, if hired for full representation, we evaluate your security deposit claim as a part of your lease termination.
Therefore, this is the option that I highly recommend. However, I do understand that not all tenants have the luxury or opportunity of moving. However, unfortunately, there is a cost for being unable to do so.
Staying But Continuing to Withhold Rent (Risking the Filing of an Eviction)
If you stay, there is no way that I am aware of that a court can force a landlord to make repairs, provide pest control, etc. Therefore, a tenant’s ultimate remedy is to terminate the lease, move out of the rental premises, and cease doing business with the landlord.
Thus, in staying, you’re conceding that you will put up with the landlord’s failures to comply with the lease or the law.
Moreover, if you continue to withhold rent, the landlord will likely challenge the rent withholding by filing an eviction. Thus, if you stay and continue to withhold rent, be prepared to defend yourself in the eviction action.
Stay But Pay Rent (Risking the Waiver of All Rights)
Again, if you stay, there is no way that I am aware of that a court can force a landlord to make repairs, provide pest control, etc. Again, a tenant’s ultimate remedy is to terminate the lease, move out of the rental premises, and cease doing business with the landlord.
Thus, again, in staying, you’re conceding that you will put up with the landlord’s failures to comply with the lease or the law.
Moreover, if you pay rent, you will likely waive any rights you have relating to the landlord’s noncompliance. Thus, most tenants will lose the right to hold the landlord accountable for the landlord’s failures.
Before sending your landlord any types of notices, you should start contemplating your ultimate goal. Most tenants terminate their leases and move. However, some tenants do not have the luxury of doing so. Therefore, tenants should make these determinations before sending the landlord any notices.