Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities under Leases

Some of the most common questions received by our firm relate to landlord and tenant responsibilities in connection with the maintenance and repair of residential rental property. Although the lease governing the relationship between each landlord and tenant must be reviewed and analyzed in order to make a final determination as to each party’s responsibilities, the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (the “Act”) provides some guidance and default rules that renters and owners of rental real property should be aware of.

Generally, Section 83.51 of the Act requires that the landlord maintain the property in compliance with local building, housing, and health codes, or, in the absence of specific codes, then that all plumbing, roofs, windows, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, foundations, and all other structural components of the property must be maintained in good repair by the landlord. However, the section also includes other responsibilities, some of which depend on the type of structure being leased, and thus must be reviewed carefully and understood by the landlord.

Under Section 83.56 of the Act, if a landlord has failed to fulfill the maintenance obligations described above, or has breached other material provisions of the applicable lease, the tenant may deliver to the landlord written notice specifying the landlord’s noncompliance or breach and indicating the tenant’s intention to terminate the lease because of this reason, if the landlord does not correct the problem within 7 days. Typically, if the landlord doesn’t act within 7 days of receipt of this notice, the tenant may terminate the lease.

Similarly, Section 83.52 of the Act sets forth default tenant responsibilities, which include, but are not limited to, keeping the leased premises in a clean and sanitary condition, removal of garbage from the premises, using all appliances and systems in a reasonable matter, and refraining from damaging the premises or any property belonging to the landlord. A tenant’s failure to fulfill these obligations can also lead to serious consequences, including eviction and lawsuits for damages.

It is important to understand that these are simply default rules, and that parties can mutually agree to redistribute all the obligations included in the Act, as well as other obligations the parties choose to address, in the lease signed by each landlord and tenant. This is why a review of the lease agreement is crucial, both before signing and entering into the lease, as well as when a situation or dispute between the parties arises.

If you require assistance reviewing a lease or have questions about your responsibilities as a tenant or landlord, contact a real estate attorney.

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