Posted By Alan Sackrin on November 4, 2014
Last Update: 01/05/16
When you rent an apartment here in Florida (or condo, duplex, house), you sign a lease filled with lots of paragraphs with complicated language, most of which seems to outline your duties and obligations as a tenant. Things like when the rent is due, how the rent is to be paid, what happens if the rent is late and procedures for kicking you out if you default.
However, what about the Landlord’s duties? Most residential leases contain very little about the landlords obligations, which doesn’t mean that the Landlord does not have a lot of legal responsibilities toward the tenant; it just means that the standard Florida rental agreement is skewed to favor landlords over renters. Surprise, right?
Where is the Duty of a Landlord Defined?
The lease may include some language about the landlord having the responsibility to repair and maintain the property; however, that term isn’t going to be discussed in great detail. Moreover, that lease agreement probably isn’t going to include an explanation of how there are Florida laws that place a lot of legal responsibility on Florida landlords to keep the rentals in good repair. The lease isn’t going to explain in detail what the consequences are to a Florida landlord who fails to repair your premises and as a result, you, the tenant, gets hurt.
What Do Florida Statutes Say About The Duty to Repair?
A landlord has a duty under Florida law to make sure that a rental property is in reasonably safe condition before allowing the tenant to move in and live there. Youngblood v. Pasadena at Pembroke Lakes South, Ltd., 882 So. 2d 1097 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004).
If the landlord specifically does not take on any obligation to make repairs on maintain the rental property in the written lease agreement, then the landlord can argue Florida law doesn’t burden the landlord with a duty to repair or upkeep. However, most Florida residential rentals will include some language that does contract for the landlord to make repairs on the rental home. This means that the landlord legally must do these repairs and upkeep to a set legal standard, that of “… using ordinary care in keeping the premises in a safe and habitable condition.” Am. Jur. 2d, Landlord and Tenant § 460.
In Florida, is the Landlord Liable If a Tenant is Hurt Because of Failure to Repair?
If a Florida tenant is hurt because of the landlord’s negligence in repairing the rental, then the tenant can pursue a claim against the landlord for personal injury damages that include medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and more.
Often, the landlord will have an insurance policy called a “comprehensive general liability” policy (”CGL”) that will cover tenant claims for injury in these situations. These policies will also pay for the landlord’s lawyer, so expect to face both insurance adjusters and insurance defense lawyers when you assert a tenant injury claim against a Florida landlord.
What Should You Do?
Before you rent a home, apartment or condo in Florida, make sure to read through the lease agreement and make sure that the landlord’s duties to repair and maintain are spelled out. It’s a good idea to inspect the place before you agree to rent it, looking for things that need upkeep and requesting these tasks be done before you take possession . Take photos or videos of the premises in case you need to prove things later.
And, if you are injured on the rental property because of the landlord’s failure to repair or maintain your rental, then your lease agreement will be the first place to look for the landlord’s duties to you.
Additionally, if you have been hurt because your landlord failed to make a repair on the property, then you may have a “premises liability” cause of action (i.e. personal injury claim) against the landlord for damages resulting from your accident. Medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and more may be available to the injured tenant.
Lastly, if you have been injured because of your landlord’s failure to make repairs, a good idea is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.