Yes, Most States Require Tenants to Keep the Rental Premises Clean
In many states, including Florida, tenants are obligated to maintain the cleanliness and sanitation of their dwelling units. The Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, specifically Fla. Stat. s. 83.52, outlines the tenant's responsibility to keep their part of the premises clean and sanitary.
Recent Dispute in Melbourne, Australia
In past years, an incident in Melbourne, Australia, highlighted the contentious nature of this obligation. A college student and his landlord clashed over the cleanliness of the rental premises, leading to a heated exchange and even the tenant crawling out of his bedroom window to avoid the landlord. The landlord complained that the tenant was just too nasty. The two fought bitterly. Indeed, the landlord told the college renter: “I f***ing told you the rules.” According to the college tenant, he crawled out of his bedroom window to avoid the landlord. Thereafter, a bitter text message battle began between the pair.
In Florida, who do you think will win? Why?
Legal Perspective in Florida
In Florida, if a landlord faces a similar situation, the landlord will likely rely on Fla. Stat. s. 83.52 and Fla. Stat. s. 83.56(2). The landlord may issue a 7-day notice to the tenant, requiring them to address the cleanliness issue. Failure to comply may result in eviction proceedings.
Defining "Clean and Sanitary"
The challenge lies in defining what constitutes "clean and sanitary." While the Florida Landlord and Tenant Act doesn't provide a specific definition, other Florida laws, such as Fla. Stat. s. 386.01, address sanitary nuisances. According to this statute, a sanitary nuisance is an act or condition that threatens or impairs health, directly or indirectly causing disease.
Legal Argument for Messiness Leading to Disease
To contest an eviction based solely on messiness, it can be argued that the mess must be so severe that it poses a threat to the health or life of individuals by causing disease. This legal viewpoint emphasizes the necessity of establishing a direct connection between the condition of the premises and potential health risks. Hence, I contend that a landlord cannot evict a tenant for simple clutter or for not meeting the landlord's definition of cleanliness. Instead, it must be linked to a potential disease or a threat to impair the health of the tenant or others.
Tips for Tenants:
1. Regular Cleaning and Maintenance:
Conduct regular cleaning and maintenance to avoid potential disputes with landlords. If your parents would have disapproved, your landlord is also likely to disapprove. Even if you can win the argument that you can't be evicted, your landlord just may decide not renew your lease next year because they disapprove of how you're maintaining their rental property.
2. Understanding Legal Obligations:
Familiarize yourself with your lease and the specific cleanliness obligations outlined in your state's laws.
3. Prompt Response to Notices:
If served with a notice regarding cleanliness issues, address the concerns quickly in an attempt to avoid legal consequences.
4. Seek Legal Advice:
If faced with potential eviction, seek legal advice to understand your rights and explore possible defenses.
If you're ready to move forward, or if you have questions about the process, you can text or call us at (407) 294-9959. And if you want to know more about the options we have for tenants like you, please complete this short interactive form.