Renters' rights in Florida are protected by Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes. These rights include freedom from discrimination, protection against unauthorized rent increases, the right to end a lease with the proper notice, and the right not to be evicted unless the landlord follows the legal procedures.
Renting the Property
It's illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to tenants based on their race or color, nation of origin, family status, sex or religion, as well as any handicap or disability the tenant may have. When signing a lease, certain clauses are legally invalid. These include clauses which absolve the landlord of liability for any wrongdoing, as well as clauses that deem the tenant automatically in the wrong in any dispute, and those which compel the tenant to pay the landlord's legal fees. You have the right to end a lease with a certain amount of notice (60 days for a year-to-year lease, for example); the landlord cannot legally require a shorter notice period. The landlord cannot prohibit you from owning a waterbed, unless they're illegal under local building codes; however, you may have to buy extra insurance on the waterbed.
Paying the Rent
Unless specifically allowed in the lease, the landlord may not raise the rent until the lease is over. If rent increases are allowed by the lease, the landlord must give you the same notice period as for a termination of the lease (60 days for a yearly lease). You can end the lease after this period if you don't want to pay the new rent. You have the right to withhold the rent if the landlord doesn't keep the building up to code and in good repair. If you need to temporarily move out for insect or rodent extermination, the landlord has to give you seven days' notice, and can't require you to leave for more than four days. The landlord must reduce the rent for these days. If there is a serious problem with the housing, you have the right to stop paying rent and move out, after giving the landlord seven days' notice.
Moving Out Early
You have the right to move out before the end of a lease if you can find a replacement tenant, unless this is prohibited in the lease. You have two options: novation, in which your lease is replaced by a lease between the landlord and the new tenant, and sublease, in which you yourself sign a lease agreement with a new tenant. In a sublease, you (the primary tenant) are still responsible for the housing.
If you miss a rent payment, the landlord must immediately notify you in writing that the rent is late, then wait three business days before beginning eviction. Landlords themselves are not allowed to evict tenants; they must file a complaint in court. The court will send you a summons; you must reply in writing within five days in order to contest the eviction. The court will then send you a letter telling you when to come to the court for a hearing to decide whether the eviction is justified.
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