Florida Tenant's Rights After Landlord Retaliation

How Florida Protects Tenants Against Landlord Revenge

Retaliation is attempting to get back at a person or group for an action they committed against you or a group you are a part of. Florida law understands that revenge could be a dangerous part of the landlord tenant relationship, so it has included a section about landlord retaliation. This law clearly spells out the legal rights tenants are entitled to in the state, as well as actions by the landlord that would be considered retaliation.

Florida Tenant Actions That Could Trigger Retaliation

There are many things a tenant could do that could irritate their landlord. It is impossible for Florida’s law to list all of these actions. Instead, they focus on some of the most common reasons a landlord may take serious action against their tenant.

A tenant must have performed any of the actions listed below in good faith. This means that they did not perform them as a way to retaliate against their landlord.

In Florida, tenant actions that could trigger retaliation include:

  • A tenant has become a member of, has supported or has created a tenant’s union or other organization.

  • The tenant has complained to a government or other housing authority about an apparent building, health or safety violation at the property.

  • The tenant is a servicemember and the tenant has given the landlord the required notice to terminate the rental agreement based on a deployment, a change in station, a release from active duty or any other reason under Section §83.682 of Florida’s landlord tenant law.

    • The tenant has pursued another legal right granted to them under Federal law, under Florida’s landlord tenant act, or by the lease agreement itself.

    • The tenant has complained to the landlord or another government or local agency about the landlord’s failure to meet his or her obligations under landlord tenant law.

      • The tenant has paid rent to a condo or other homeowners’ association after the organization demanded the tenant pay the rent because the landlord has not fulfilled his or her obligation to do so.

      Acts That Could Be Considered Landlord Retaliation in Florida

      A Florida landlord has a legal right to take certain actions, such as increasing a tenant’s rent. However, if these actions are done as an act of revenge against the tenant, they are no longer considered legal rights. Instead they will be considered acts of retaliation and the landlord may face legal consequences for such actions. Here are the actions that could be considered retaliatory in Florida:

      • The landlord decreases services to the tenant.

      • The landlord refuses to make needed repairs.

      • The landlord attempts to harass or intimidate the tenant to get the tenant to leave. Actions could include changing the locks on the tenants’ doors or actually removing the tenant’s possessions from their unit.

      Time Frame for Act to Be Considered Retaliation in Florida

      Florida’s landlord tenant act does not list an actual timeline for an action by a landlord to be considered an act of retaliation.

      Therefore, the tenant is free to claim retaliation at any time, but it is up to them to find proof to back up this claim.

      The closer the claim of retaliation is to the tenant action, the better chance the tenant usually has. For example, it may be difficult for a tenant to prove that a landlord raising a tenant’s rent a year after a tenant joined a tenant’s union is an act of retaliation. It might be easier for the tenant to prove an act of retaliation if the landlord raised the tenant’s rent one week after the tenant joined the tenant’s union.

      Landlord Defense to Act of Retaliation

      Even after a landlord is accused of retaliation by a tenant, the landlord can state how he or she was within his or her legal right to take the action. If the landlord is accused of performing a retaliatory eviction, the landlord can show that he or she had “good cause” for filing for the eviction.

      Good cause could include:

      • The tenant had not been paying their rent,
      • the tenant had violated the terms of the lease agreement

      or

      • the tenant had not been meeting their required obligations under landlord tenant law.

      Tenant Remedies for Retaliation

      If a tenant believes that a landlord has retaliated against him or her, the tenant can file legal action against the landlord. The tenant must be able to show proof that they were discriminated against in some way. The tenant must show that the landlord has singled them out and is not following the same procedures for all tenants.

      It could be the amount of rent the tenant is being charged compared to other tenants, the services the tenant is receiving compared to other tenants or the actions the landlord has taken against the tenant compared to other tenants. If the landlord is found to have committed an act of retaliation, the court may award the tenant the ability to stay in the rental if they so choose, the ability to terminate the lease if they so choose and/or monetary damages.

      Florida’s Law on Landlord Retaliation

      To view Florida’s original state statute about landlord retaliation, please consult Florida Statutes Annotated §83.64