Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Orlando REALTOR® | SeptemberOctober 2013
Turn and face the altered
Landlord and Tenant Act
By Kristy Harrington, Esq.
Multiple changes to the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (the "Act”) took effect this summer and will soon be added to Chapter 83, Part II, Florida Statutes.
-The Act now applies to lease-purchase arrangements, so long as the buyer/lessee has NOT: (i) already paid at least one month’s rent plus a deposit of at least 5 percent of the purchase price, OR (ii) already paid at least 12 months’ rent.
-The right to attorney’s fees can no longer be waived in the parties’ Lease.
-The Act was clarified to specify that it does not provide for attorney’s fees to the winning party in a personal injury action that arises from a landlord’s alleged failure to maintain the premises. The Act was clarified to reflect that a landlord who fails to timely claim the security deposit at the end of the Lease must return the entire deposit to the tenant. However, the landlord may then sue the tenant for damages he originally could have put the deposit toward. Likewise, a tenant’s failure to timely object to a landlord claiming the deposit does not waive the tenant’s right to later sue for damages.
Advance Rents and Deposits
New Disclosure Statement
For landlords renting out five or more individual dwelling units, there are detailed changes to Section 83.49(2), FS, regarding the written notice that must be provided to tenants as to the status and location of their security deposits. Additional, a new disclosure statement regarding advanced rents and deposits is required - without exception - beginning January 1, 2014.
Under the law, the new disclosure statement can be put to use immediately. However, the Legislature choses to make January 1, 2014 the mandatory use date in order to give property manager who have stacks of pre-printed documents the opportunity to use them up.
Nevertheless, best practices would suggest that you go ahead and begin providing the new disclosure now, so that there is no confusion in your office down the road.
-At the beginning of the Lease, the landlord is now responsible for ensuring that "screens are installed in a reasonable condition.” The landlord must then repair damaged screens once a year until the Lease ends.
-Section 83.56(2)(b), FS, (as to 7-Day Notices with opportunity to cure) was clarified as follows: If landlord posts a 7-Day Notice to cure the violation, and sometime later (but within the 12 months after the Notice) tenant re-commits the same violation, landlord is not required to post a second 7-Day Notice prior to terminating the Lease and commencing eviction.
In light of this clarification, a slight change was made to the 7-Day Notice language, which you should review and incorporate into your forms effective immediately.
-The Act now explicitly states that a Lease cannot waive written notices for non-compliances of any kind under Section 83.56, FS.
-Section 83.56(5)(a), FS, now states that a landlord does not waive her right to evict after accepting a partial rent payment. There is also now a brief procedure a landlord may follow (in lieu of posting a new 3-Day Notice) in order to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent, following a partial payment.
-The court must now give a landlord a chance to cure any errors in the 3-Day or 7-Day Notice and/or the pleadings, prior to dismissing an eviction for same.
-The 24-hour period commencing when a Writ of Possession is posted is no longer extended by Saturdays, Sundays, or legal holidays.
-Section 83.64(1), FS, which prohibits landlords from retaliating against tenants for taking various actions, was expanded to include instances: (i) where a tenant pays rent to an association after the association demands it (when a landlord has ceased paying his association fees), and (ii) where a tenant exercises her rights under any fair housing law.
Kristy Harrington, Esq., Law Office of Kristy L. Harrington, P.A., can be reached at Kristy@LawHarrington.com. She is a board member of the Central Florida Real Estate Attorneys Council.
CFREAC provides this column on real estate law issues as a service to ORRA members to provide a general understanding of the law on various topics of interest, not as a substitute for individual legal consultation, and should not be relied on in specific situations without consulting with a real estate attorney. For more information, please visit www.centralflrec.com.