You have rights as a tenant. Read Florida’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, Section 83.40 to 83.682, Florida Statutes (2011). Florida Statutes are available online through the Florida Legislature’s home page, www.leg.state.fl.us. Explanations of the Act have statewide applicability, but any specific reference to Gainesville or Alachua County applies only to those areas. The rental of mobile homes or mobile home lots is not covered in this publication.
Your duties as a tenant
- PAY RENT and pay on time.
- Follow all other lease terms.
- Follow all rules and regulations.
- Follow all housing and health codes.
- Follow all zoning restrictions.
- Keep the apartment clean and sanitary.
- Keep plumbing fixtures sanitary.
- Do not damage the apartment.
- Do not disturb your neighbors.
What is an eviction?
- An eviction is the formal end of your right to occupy the premises, but it does not end your duty to pay rent.
- A summons starts an eviction and you must file an answer within five days. Contact an attorney immediately.
- A judgment for possession of the premises, unpaid rent, late fees, interest, court costs and attorney’s fees will be entered for the landlord if the court rules against you. A notice will be posted on the premises by the sheriff that requires you to vacate in 24 hours. The sheriff will remove you and your personal property if you do not vacate in the time given.
What happens when you do not pay rent?
Failure to pay rent is the quickest way to be evicted. The landlord will serve a notice demanding payment of rent or possession of the premises. If you fail to comply with the demand in three days, excluding weekends and holidays, eviction proceedings may be started. Neither surrender of the premises nor eviction ends your liability for rent.
Other reasons for eviction
Your lease can be terminated and you can be evicted for violating any lease terms, rules and regulations. Termination begins with a 7-day notice and does not end your liability for rent. Your options depend on whether the violations are classified as curable or non-curable. If you receive either type of notice, you must act immediately. Either negotiate a settlement with the landlord or contact an attorney.
A curable violation includes unauthorized guests, pets, or parking, or the failure to keep the premises clean and sanitary. You will be given seven days to correct a curable violation. You will not be given a second chance if you repeat the violation in 12 months.
A non-curable violation includes misuse or deliberate destruction of the landlord’s property or a continued, unreasonable disturbance. The landlord may terminate your lease with a 7-day notice without giving you a chance to correct the violation.
Everyone must pay rent or you will be evicted
- Traditional leases provide that the tenants are jointly and severally liable for the entire rent. (With individual leases you are only responsible for your part of the rent.)
- This means the landlord can evict you unless the full rent is paid.
- A written roommate agreement would help if you had to take your roommate to court for non-payment of their part of the rent that you have had to pay to stay in the apartment.
- The best thing you can do is obtain new roommates when you have a roommate that doesn’t pay their part of the rent.
A judgment for money damages is enforceable for a maximum of 20 years and earns 7 percent simple annual interest. A judgment can be enforced by seizing your wages, bank accounts, or your personal property. Your credit rating will be adversely affected by a judgment.