When a tenant rents a property, the tenant obtains a right to peacefully hold possession of the rental premises. In the law, we call this right “quiet enjoyment.” However, there are exceptions. One such exception is in Florida Statutes § 83.53. Under Fla. Stat. § 83.53(1), a landlord has a right to show the rental property to people who want to purchase the property:
(1) The tenant shall not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter the dwelling unit from time to time in order to. . . . exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers. . . tenants . . . .
(2) . . . . The landlord may enter the dwelling unit when necessary for the further purposes set forth in subsection (1) under any of the following circumstances:
(a) With the consent of the tenant;
(b) In case of emergency;
(c) When the tenant unreasonably withholds consent; or . . . .
(3) The landlord shall not abuse the right of access nor use it to harass the tenant.
So, in Florida, a landlord needs to FIRST seek the permission of the tenant to enter the rental premises to show the premises. However, if there is an emergency—or if the tenant unreasonably fails to provide that consent, the landlord gets to enter rental premises against the tenant’s wishes. However, in no instance should the landlord abuse the right of access.
So, what can a tenant do when a landlord begins showing the rental property without the tenant’s permission? The tenant should send the landlord a notice to seek the tenant’s reasonable consent of when to show the unit. This generally results in the parties putting reasonable restrictions on the right to access. For example, should showings require so many days or hours of notice in advance? Should the showings require certain people to be present? Should the tenants be compensated for making the home “show ready” repeatedly?
What is reasonable? Well, it depends on the circumstances of each case. Also, tenants should be sure that they can afford to exercise such rights. For example, tenants who are on month to month leases should be especially careful since the landlord may choose not to renew the lease for the next month.
Tenants have rights when a landlord wants to access the rental property. However, in exercising those rights, tenants must act reasonably. The Law Offices of Debi Rumph and her Tenant’s Clinic charge reasonable fees for strategic solutions for illegal access and for full representation for illegal access.