Although Florida law requires a tenant to withhold rent to preserve the tenants' rights under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (“Act”), doing so can be quite tricky. If you have not already done so, you may want to read the following articles:
If Your Landlord Has Failed to Make the Repairs
Under Florida law, when a party breaches a contract, the non-breaching party may stop performance and treat the breach as a discharge of his contractual liability. Therefore, conversely, in the appropriate circumstances, when a landlord breaches a lease agreement to make repairs to the rental property, a tenant may stop performance and treat the breach as a discharge of the obligation to pay rent.
However, this is a tricky provision for most tenants. For the reasons provided for in this article: As a Tenant, You MAY Have an OBLIGATION to Withhold Rent in Florida for a Landlord's Failure to Make Repairs. But Can You AFFORD to do so? – Tenant Legal Docs (tenantsclinic.com)
Therefore, once you withhold rent and your rental payment becomes due again, you have a decision to make. Either you will pay the rent and waive your termination rights under the Act, or you will wait to see if you get a 3-day notice.
If Your Landlord Serves You With a 3 Day Notice
If your landlord serves you with a 3-day notice for failing to pay the rent, you can attempt to opt to pay it under protest to try to avoid an eviction and attempt to preserve your rights to terminate under the Act. However, if you decide to go with this option, your payment should indicate that. Your payment communication should also stress that you will require a move out inspection for your upcoming move out date. If you have a forwarding address to provide, this will be the best time to offer it. Thus, you may not be able to pay the protested rent electronically. You should send the protested payment and its accompanying communication via a method that requires a signature.
Then, that'll put the ball in the landlord's court on whether to accept the rent under protest or reject it. This method attempts to reserve your rights to termination–while putting a chill on the landlord's ability and/or willingness to file an eviction. If your landlord rejects the protested rent and files an eviction, you will have a strong defense against the eviction lawsuit.
If Your Landlord Does NOT Serve You with a 3 Day Notice
On the other hand, if your landlord does not serve you with a 3-day notice, simply move out on your disclosed move out date, and follow the appropriate move-out procedures. If you need move-out tips, please consider the following article: https://www.debirumph.com/free-moving-tips-from-the-perspective-of-tenants-clinic/
If Your Landlord Finally Makes the Repairs or Finally Attempts to Make the Repairs
Fla. Stat. §83.56 provides that when “the landlord has made and continues to make every reasonable effort to correct the failure to comply,” and (1) the premises become inhabitable and (2) the tenant remains in occupancy, the rent for the period of the noncompliance shall be reduced to reflect the market value of the rental premises. Thus, in this scenario, the tenant should be entitled to a partial rental refund.
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