4 Steps You Can Take If Your Renter’s Rights Have Been Violated

For many people it’s a nightmare scenario—a landlord who refuses to fix major issues with the home they rent. Maybe it’s a broken lock on your door or a rat infestation in your kitchen. Maybe you’ve realized that your landlord is charging you more for rent than another tenant and you believe it’s because you made a legitimate complaint to the authorities or because of your race or some other impermissible form of retaliation. Every renter hopes their landlord will be fair and reasonable, but sadly, that is simply not always the case.

Fortunately, as a renter you have certain rights which means the landlord has obligations that he or she is required by law to fulfill, such as maintaining a safe and habitable home for his or her tenants. If your landlord is violating your renter’s rights, there are steps you can take to remedy the situation.

Please remember that many of these measures are meant only for extreme situations where your specifically defined legal rights have been violated. This can include situations where your health or safety are at risk as well as landlord retaliation. It does not include situations where you caused the damage yourself. If you take these steps for situations where they are not warranted you could be at fault so make sure that if you are thinking about taking serious action against your landlord to contact an experienced Landlord-Tenant lawyer like Hegel Laurent.

1. Inform your landlord and keep a record

First and foremost, if there is an issue with your dwelling you are required to notify your landlord and give them reasonable time to fix the issue. When you first find the issue, you can contact your landlord verbally to inform them if you feel like you can trust the landlord to fix the problem. If you do not believe your landlord will fix the problem or if you have already informed him or her verbally, provide them with clear written notice and make sure you keep copies of the notice for yourself.

Above all, if there is any major (or even minor) problems with your home, keep a detailed record of dates, times, actions taken, how you were affected, and especially of any interactions with your landlord. If it comes down to litigation against your landlord, it’s essential that you can provide detailed evidence that you did all you could to allow the landlord to fix the issue.

2. Withhold rent

Specifically in the case of livability issues, if you have done all you can to inform the landlord of a serious problem and he or she still refuses to fix it, you may withhold rent. This can be a bit tricky and you’ll want to be certain you are in the right before withholding rent. You do not want to try to utilize this step if you are behind on your rent or owe your landlord money, but if your tenancy record is clean and there is a major habitability issue in your home that has been neglected by your landlord, you are within your rights to withhold rent until the problem is taken care of.

In Florida, you must give the landlord seven days written notice to fix the issue before withholding rent. You should also hold on to the money afterwards and seek a court’s permission to use it to have to problem fixed, otherwise you could risk eviction.

3. Notify proper authorities

If your renter’s rights have been violated there are several authorities you could contact to pursue action. Firstly, you will want professional representation from an attorney versed in Landlord-Tenant Law to make sure you are following the right procedures. In situations where your landlord is neglecting a major issue of habitability in your home, you can contact local building or health inspectors. Your landlord is required to comply with all local building and health codes so if he is in violation they could compel him to fix the problem. Remember, if there is an immediately impending safety issue in your home you should remove yourself from danger and contact emergency services.

Additionally, the US Department of Housing And Urban Development (HUD) was founded to protect fair housing practices and are particularly useful for cases of discrimination. You can also file a complaint with HUD for nearly any other violation of your renter’s rights as well.

4. Terminate your rental agreement

If the landlord has failed to fulfill major obligations, you have the right to terminate the rental agreement and move out as long as notice is given at least seven days prior to rent being due. You may move out temporarily or permanently, depending on your situation, even if the landlord has tried and failed to fix the problem. Again, there are exceptions and intricacies to the right to move out that you will want to consult over with an experienced attorney before taking action.

If your rights as a tenant have been violated, you are not helpless. There are steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your right to a safe and comfortable home. Call Laurent Law Offices if you have questions, or to discuss your specific situation and the options available to you.

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Written by LaurentLawOffice


Laurent Law Offices, P.L. is committed to helping renters and landlords alike to achieve a fair and reasonable resolution to any dispute. Attorney Hegel Laurent has been a tenant for the vast majority of his life and he understands the intricacies of Landlord-Tenant law codified in Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes. He received his J.D. from the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Law School and he is passionate about representing both those who rent property or those who own rental property.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail.Click here for full disclaimer