On this page, we have compiled a list of common questions asked by tenants involved in Pest Control disputes with their landlords. For a complete list of statutes, visit the Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act.
Responsibilities and Obligations
Who is responsible for pest control, the tenant or the landlord?
The responsibility for pest control in a rental home is governed by Fla. Stat. s. 83.51(2). In general, the landlord is responsible for pest control in all rental homes. However, there is an exception for single-family homes and duplexes. In these cases, the landlord is responsible for pest control, unless the responsibility has been contractually assigned to the tenant. Determining the specific responsibilities can depend on the tenant's circumstances and the terms of the lease agreement. It is advisable to seek guidance from an attorney to understand your rights and obligations in this regard.
How long does the landlord have to respond to a pest control request?
Fla. Stat. s. 83.56(2) does not specifically outline a timeframe within which the landlord must provide adequate pest control. Therefore, we explore potential solutions by referring to the tenant's local housing code and/or the written lease, if available. In some cases, we may impose a 7-day notice requirement on the landlord through these sources. However, if no specific requirement exists, the landlord will generally have a reasonable amount of time to address the pest control issue and may require the tenant to temporarily vacate the premises for extermination purposes. It is crucial for tenants to assert their rights by demanding compliance with relevant provisions and, if necessary, issuing a demand to cure or a notice of constructive eviction if the landlord fails to act. Please note that the timing of pest control issues can be complex and may require case-specific considerations. Consulting with legal professionals can provide you with tailored advice based on the specifics of your situation.
Why is my landlord unwilling to complete the requested pest control?
There could be various reasons why your landlord is hesitant to address the necessary pest control. In some cases, landlords may only take action when tenants assert their legal rights. Additionally, financial considerations might come into play. The pest control services could be too costly, or the landlord may not see it as a wise investment, especially if they are facing potential foreclosure. It's also possible that the landlord is not legally obligated to carry out the requested pest control.
What are my rights if the landlord fails to address a pest issue?
The legal remedies available in cases involving pest control issues can be complex and vary significantly. We argue that there is a gap between Fla. Stat. s. 83.51(2) and common law, resulting in courts interpreting a tenant's rights regarding pest control in various ways. Given this complexity, we engage in extensive strategizing when addressing persistent pest control issues. It is important to understand that a tenant's rights can vary tremendously based on factors such as the terms of the written lease, if applicable, local housing laws, the specific circumstances of the case, and even the judge who presides over the matter. To navigate these complexities effectively, it is advisable to consult with legal professionals who can provide tailored advice based on the specifics of your situation.
Should I document and keep records of pest control requests?
Absolutely. It is crucial to document and maintain records of all pest control requests, even if you submit them through the landlord's portal. In some cases, landlords may revoke a tenant's access to the portal once a dispute arises. Therefore, it is important to print off or save electronic copies of each request made through the portal. These records will serve as evidence of your attempts to communicate the pest control needs and can be valuable documentation in case of a dispute. By keeping thorough records, you can better protect your rights and provide the necessary evidence to support your case.
Tenant's Next Steps
Can I hire a professional pest control service and deduct the cost from my rent?
While this practice was permitted in Florida under previous laws, it is no longer the case. The current law does not allow tenants to hire a contractor for pest control and deduct the cost from their rent unless explicitly provided for in the lease agreement. If you have reached an agreement with your landlord regarding this arrangement, it is strongly recommended to obtain the agreement in writing before proceeding and spending your own money on pest control. It is always advisable to consult with legal professionals to fully understand your rights and responsibilities concerning pest control and rental payments in your specific situation. They can provide guidance tailored to your circumstances and help ensure you are in compliance with the applicable laws.
Can I withhold rent if the landlord fails to take remedial action?
The answer to this question is complex. Under Fla Stat. s. 83.51 or Fla. Stat. s. 83.56, there is no explicit provision allowing tenants to withhold rent solely based on the landlord's failure to provide adequate pest control. However, we explore alternative avenues to potentially enable tenants to withhold rent or terminate the lease agreement with the landlord. These alternatives may be based on other relevant statutes, common law principles, or specific circumstances of the case. To understand the options available in your situation, it is recommended to consult with legal professionals who can assess your case and provide guidance tailored to your specific circumstances.
What should I do if I want the landlord to carry out the pest control, but they are not taking any action?
If the pest control is not being addressed by the landlord, and you choose to continue residing in the property, it's important to be aware that under Florida law, you may unintentionally waive your rights to file a complaint about the unaddressed pest control, take legal action against the landlord regarding the issue, or request a refund of rent. It's advisable to seek legal guidance to explore alternative options and understand the potential consequences before making a decision.
Lease Termination, Negotiations, & Compensation
Can I break my lease due to a severe pest infestation?
While the right to terminate the lease is not explicitly provided for in Fla Stat. s. 83.51 or Fla. Stat. s. 83.56, we explore other avenues to argue that tenants may be entitled to terminate the lease based on other relevant statutes, common law principles, or specific circumstances of the case. We diligently analyze the situation to identify potential legal arguments supporting a lease termination. It is important to consult with legal professionals who can assess your case, evaluate applicable laws, and provide guidance tailored to your specific circumstances in order to pursue a lease termination effectively.
What should I do if I decide to move out instead?
It's understandable that you may consider moving out in such circumstances, and you're not alone in this decision. If you choose to move, we can work together to develop a strategy that discourages the landlord from completing the pest control promptly, reducing the chances of the landlord charging you termination fees, seeking contact damages, or sending you to collections. This approach can help you terminate the lease more smoothly and protect you from potential financial repercussions.
If I decide to terminate my lease and move out, will I be required to pay a termination fee to the landlord?
If you have the legal right to terminate the lease due to the landlord's failure to provide adequate pest control, you should not be held liable for a termination fee. In such cases, my clients typically pursue and successfully obtain a partial rent refund as compensation for the unresolved pest control issue.
Questions Related to Our Processes & Representation
How long does the process typically take?
After conducting the necessary interview and gathering relevant documents, we can generally prepare the notice(s) related to your case within 3-4 days. Following that, the landlord will be given a period of 7-12 full days to respond. Once this waiting period is over and you provide us with your move-out date, it typically takes us around 1 day to prepare your termination notice. Please note that these timeframes are estimates and may vary depending on the specifics of your case.