When Are Landlords Responsible for Repairs and Improvements to Florida Rental Properties?

To begin with, Florida law does not zero in on specific repairs that must be completed by landlords. Determining whether you, as a landlord, need to fix a specific issue in one of your units involves Florida’s Warranty of Habitability. Essentially, the warranty ensures that tenants have somewhere safe to live that contains no threats to their wellbeing and safety. The state’s Landlord-Tenant Act establishes this implied warranty. 

The Florida Statutes require landlords to be in compliance with all building, housing and health codes that apply to their structures. A combination of city, county, and state codes are usually involved in residence upkeep. If, however, a particular building does not have any applicable building, housing, or health codes, state law requires landlords to maintain, in “good repair and capable of resisting normal forces and loads”:

  • Roofs
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Floors
  • Steps
  • Porches
  • Exterior walls
  • Foundations
  • Plumbing (must be in reasonable working order)
  • Screens (must be inspected annually to ensure they are in reasonable condition)

There are additional considerations for Florida landlords that lease residences other than single-family homes (including mobile homes) and duplexes. The most common example of this is an apartment. In these situations, landlords must make “reasonable provisions” for:

  • Bug and pest extermination
  • Locks and keys
  • Keeping common areas in good order
  • Garbage removal and dumpsters
  • Heating units, running water, and hot water

Prior to the beginning of a tenancy, landlords must install working smoke detectors. Landlords are not responsible for making repairs related to the conditions we just covered if the issue(s) stems from negligence or “wrongful act(s) or omission(s)” made by the tenant or anyone on the premises with the tenant’s permission.  

Time Limit For Making Repairs

If you determine that you do have an obligation to make a specific repair for one of your tenants, you cannot wait for weeks before beginning the repair. Florida law allows tenants to give landlords a seven-day notice to begin work on any major repairs. You do not have to complete the repairs within those seven days. Rather, you have to take “reasonable” steps to repair the issue(s). Not making these repairs could lead to the tenant moving out or withholding rent. 

Conclusion

The best thing for landlords to do is explicitly lay out repair obligations in lease agreements with their tenants. However, landlords are now allowed to subvert their legal obligations by having tenants sign a lease that says otherwise. Because there are some gray areas, it can be difficult to determine when a landlord is required to make a specific repair within a reasonable amount of time. The Law Offices of Ray Garcia has long focused on providing effective legal counsel in landlord-tenant matters. Reach out today to schedule a consultation with our team.