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Your Questions About Apartment Rental Agreement Florida

November 3, 2012

Sandra asks…

How can I address the problem of black mold in my apartment?

We moved into our apartment in october of last year. It was only supposed to be temporary until a 3 bedroom, newer renovated apartment came open for us. (I was expecting my 3rd child). There were several things we noted on our initial walk through that was previous damage. As it was only temporary we agreed to move in. WHen this new apartment became available we were suddenly denied the lease transfer saying that we would have to sub lease, but in our original rental agreement is strictly forbids subleasing (illegal in florida). So we sought to have the problems fixed. This included Window structure, carpeting, faulty wiring, broken stove, non working air conditioning, and a growing black mold problem. Now, my new born is 5 months old, and we still don’t have a single thing fixed. The black mold as we later discovered is a horrible infestation problem throughout our air ducts and in our walls.
normally we are healthy people, but we have been ill pretty much the whole time we have lived here.
My son has experienced tooth lose, my daughter has respiratory problems and skin rashes. I experience insomnia and dizziness, my husband has had several urinary tract infections, and my new born has had a constant runny nose. These are all symptoms of black mold.
We have submitted a written intent of stop payment of rent until these problems are fixed, or we are offered to move into the still empty 3 bedroom apartment. but as that time as since elapsed we were forced to pay rent because we can not afford to move. So what do I do now? How do I combat an out of state landlord that refuses to fix previous problems and is intent on blaming it all on us. I know that there are at least 5 other residents that are going through the same thing. so,
can we start a class action suit?
What can I do ? I can’t afford to move.


Administrator answers:

Don’t need to read the whole thing (very long!) to answer your initial q…
The landlord is legally responsible for all property upkeep. Toxic mold is illegal to rent or sell a property affected with and requires immediate and legal remedy. Notify your landlord in writing of the concern and tell him you appreciate the immediate and lawful remedy so that further action doesn’t become necessary (a veiled threat is less likely to get his gander up) If he fails to comply, you can report him to the EPA, however, realize you may be forced to leave while he is forced to remedy it because black mold is deemed toxic.

If you want to do this personally…depending on how large the affected area, bleach will kill the mold. Saturate the affected area until the mold is all gone. Then seal the area with a Kilz type product and repaint. The problem is that until the issue that caused the leak that grew the mold is resolved, it will continue to come back; but for that, your landlord is required.

Real estate laws differ by State, so it’s best to contact a Florida real estate attorney to learn your rights in your region…I know in my State, it is lawful to withhold rent for the time the property was in disrepair and until the problem is remedied…this doesn’t mean you can spend the rent, and it has to be in an escrowed account, but he is not automatically entitled to receive it either, and often, a court will determine what is acceptable. Try to do this peacefully first though, because a pissed off landlord can make your home life miserable.

Joseph asks…

Can you sign a new lease while going through a divorce?

I have been told that while going through a divorce, new lines of credit cannot be opened, which included a rental agreement. Can anyone shed any light on this? I am in florida. I need a reference point online if anyone can provide me with one. My friend is going through a divorce and is convinced that they are not able to rent their own apartment yet because of this.

Administrator answers:

You can do whatever you desire in your own name. You cannot open up lines of credit or credit cards jointly with or with out other party knowledge, ….but you can in own name, and rent or buy….

John asks…

How do you evict a tenant without a lease?

We have a tenant who moved in a month ago no lease was signed. Rental agreement was month to month plus security deposit. He hasnt paid a dime. We ran his license to find out he is a fellon. His roomates dont want him living in thier apartment. We just want him out we do not feel safe with him on our property. This is out guest home that we rent out. I am in Florida. Thanks

Administrator answers:

Evictions in FL take 15 days, issue him a 3 day notice. The lack of a lease doesn’t mean anything, it will not hurt or help you in this situation.

If he pays the rent (you legally have to take it) in full during the 3 days you will then have to issue a 30 day notice.

Jenny asks…

Florida – break lease due to flooding?

My neighbor’s above me had a grease fire and the sprinkler systems responded accordingly. The water from the sprinkler system was coming through my lights, vents and my AC had water in it. The landlord had a carpet cleaning company come out and wet vac the carpet and they put one blower in the apartment and no de-humidifier. The next morning upon returning to the apartment a must odor was present. To prevent damage to our stuff we moved it out. Upon packing up our stuff I became sick with a sore throat, coughing and a bad headache. I believe there was mold present because prior to this issue I was fine and had no problems health wise. Our landlord said we broke the lease and that we still owe him 2 months rent for breaking of the lease. By Florida law it states that “Title VI 83.63Casualty damage.—If the premises are damaged or destroyed other than by the wrongful or negligent acts of the tenant so that the enjoyment of the premises is substantially impaired, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement and immediately vacate the premises. ” We also sent them a letter explaining what happened and that we wished to terminate the lease. When they sent a final bill they claimed we terminated the lease for reasons unknown however that isn’t possible when we sent a certified mail letter to them explaining why. Do we legally have the right to do this?
Thanks for your response. However, if mold was present prior to this situation the water could have made it worse. A musty odor (which according to the CDC can be an indication that mold is present) and the fact that I got sick just from being in the apartment, all of which according to the CDC my symptoms coincide with mold exposure. My landlord did NOTHING to help resolve the issue at hand. When I went and spoke to them all they said was “well we will only be here for 30 more minutes you will have to wait” and then never contacted us until we went to the office trying to settle it. If some of my lights cannot be used because water is in them and my AC unit doesn’t work due to the water damage, and I got sick from being in there wouldn’t you think that its not livable much less enjoyable!?
1) I spoke to my landlord and he refused to listen to me.
2) according to my lease if the property is damaged the landlord is responsible for fixing it and according to the carpet people a de-humidifier was required. They came in and tested the walls for humidification and they were 99-100%. They placed a humidifier in the unit for one day and then removed it.
2) I became sick after the exposure, when in the unit I began coughing excessively and within two hours of leaving my symptoms subsided.
3) The buckets of water from the vents were dark brown with chunks in it. There were cracks in the ceiling. If my lights do not work an my air conditioner does not work by the Florida law I stated above, the apartment can be considered non-livable if the apartment is unenjoyable! It is not enjoyable when you have no AC, no lights, having no ability to utilize my entire living room or dining room.

Administrator answers:

First, mold will not develop overnight. That said, while you have quoted Florida law, your interpretation can be challenged by your landlord. The key is “…substantially impaired…” Based on the information given, the unit is habitable and therefore you broke the lease and are reponsible for the rent due until the lease term expires or the unit is re-rented.

Florida law doesn’t require that your unit have A/C. That’s a convenience not a must have. Also the musty smell could be due to wet carpets Which will go away.


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