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A Renter’s Rights to Home Repairs

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Under the implied warranty of habitability, landlords are legally required to keep rental premises livable. This warranty is a legal doctrine which states that landlords must take care of important repairs. If landlords do not abide by this agreement, renters are entitled to some options, including the right to withhold rent.

However, it is important to note that this warranty does not cover many other problems or repairs tenants may experience in a rental. Our knowledgeable Miami landlord-tenant attorneys are here to provide insights on a tenant’s rights when it comes to minor repairs in a rental unit.

Landlords Are Required to Fix Major Issues

Landlords must maintain the structure of the building, including stairways, floors, and roofs, as well as keep electrical, heating, and plumbing systems operating properly. They must also exterminate any infestation of pests, and supply cold and hot water reasonably.

If a problem arises out of a tenant’s carelessness, the tenant will have to pay for the repair. For instance, if there is an infestation due to a lack of cleaning by the tenant, the repair bill will be forwarded to the tenant. If that tenant does not pay the landlord for the repair, the amount will be deducted from the security deposit.

Making Minor Repairs

Almost all tenants face minor problems at some point. These can include leaky faucets, worn carpet, old paint, etc. These issues can be inconvenient and troublesome, but the unit is still habitable.

Other factors that can impact whether a landlord must make the repair are:

  • Florida’s landlord-tenant laws
  • Building codes
  • Lease terms
  • Whether or not the landlord has made any written or oral promises to make minor repairs.

Enforcing the Right to Minor Repairs

Tenants in an inhabitable environment have the legal right to withhold rent or use “repair and deduct” procedures. Taking this route for a minor issue is not recommended however, and could possibly create a dispute or an eviction.

Strategies for getting a landlord to make minor repairs include:

  1. Provide a Written Request – Through a written request, tenants are able to explain the problem in detail and tell how the minor problem could eventually become major.
  2. Propose Mediation – If a written request is refused, a tenant could suggest mediation to resolve the problem.
  3. Report the Landlord to the Local Housing Agency – A minor issue may be a violation of local building codes. Call the local housing agency to determine whether or not this is a possibility. If there is indeed a violation, report the landlord. However, this likely will not improve the relationship between a landlord and tenant.
  4. Sue the Landlord in Small Claims Court – If the tenant is able to prove that the problem decreased the value of the unit or property, a judge may award the difference in value and the rent paid.

Talk to An Attorney

Landlords are required under Florida law to make repairs for tenants living in an inhabitable unit. If a tenant is unsure whether a repair would be classified as a major or minor repair, contact our expert Miami landlord-tenant attorneys at Graham Legal, P.A. for a free no-obligation consultation. We can advise or help negotiate any kind of landlord-tenant dispute.

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