Last Update: 3/5/18
When you rent an apartment here in Florida (or condo, duplex, house), you will likely sign a lease agreement filled with lots of paragraphs of complicated language, most of which seem to outline your duties and obligations as a tenant. Issues like when the rent is due, how the rent is to be paid, what happens if the rent is late and procedures for evicting you if you default on the agreement.
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.
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 is not going to be discussed in great detail. Moreover, that lease agreement probably is not going to include an explanation of how Florida law places a lot of legal responsibility on landlords to keep their rental units in good repair and it will not explain in detail what the consequences are to a Florida landlord who fails to repair their premises.
Certainly, it will not have language that outlines what happens to a tenant when he or she gets hurt due to the landlord’s negligence. That is why Florida case law protects tenants.
What Does Florida Law 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 in the premises. Youngblood v. Pasadena at Pembroke Lakes South, Ltd., 882 So. 2d 1097 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004).
Also, a Florida landlord must make repairs and upkeep their property “… 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 unit, then the tenant can pursue a claim against the landlord for the tenant’s personal injury damages, which can include medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and other economic and non-economic damages.
Be careful, the landlord will likely have an insurance policy called a “comprehensive general liability” policy (”CGL”) that will provide coverage for tenant injury claims caused by the landlord’s failure to maintain the premises (a fancy way of saying “negligence”). These policies provide the landlord with a lawyer to defend against a claim, so expect to face both an insurance adjuster and a defense lawyer when asserting an injury claim against your landlord.
What Should You Do?
Before you rent a home, apartment or condo in Florida, read through the lease agreement and make sure that the landlord’s duties to repair and maintain are spelled out. It is also a good idea to inspect the premises before you agree to rent it, looking for things that need upkeep and request that these items be repaired before you take possession. Furthermore, once you move into the premises, take photos or videos of a dangerous condition in case you need to prove a claim at a later date.
If you have been seriously 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 other common damages may be available to you as compensation. For this reason, you should keep a record of all of your medical expenses and keep a diary of how your life has been affected by your serious injury. Doing so, will help build your case for compensation. After all, the reason why you pursue a personal injury claim is to try and make you whole again.
If you have been injured because of your landlord’s negligence for failing to make repairs, then a good idea is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you pursue a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with a personal injury claim, 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.
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