Does this image look like your once nice Florida landlord? Is your landlord or property manager not holding-up to their obligations in your lease agreement or the law? Are you a tenant calling code enforcement on your Florida landlord?
Retaliatory conduct by a landlord in Florida is when a landlord takes action against a tenant who has exercised their legal rights. Examples of retaliatory conduct can include things like increasing the rent, reducing services, or starting the eviction process. In Florida, the law protects tenants from retaliatory conduct by their landlords if the tenant has made a good faith complaint about housing code violations to the landlord or a government agency, or if the tenant has joined a tenant organization or union.
Pursuant to §83.64, Florida Statutes, “it is unlawful for a landlord to discriminatorily increase a tenant’s rent or decrease services to a tenant, or to bring or threaten an action for possession or other civil action, primarily because the landlord is retaliating against the tenant.”
Additionally, “a landlord may not retaliate” when a “tenant has complaint to a governmental agency charged with responsibility for enforcement of a building, housing, or health code of a suspected violation applicable to the premises.”
Based on the above-stated law, a Florida landlord cannot threaten a Florida eviction if a tenant files a complaint with the local code enforcement agency as long as the complaint has been made in “good faith.” In this circumstance, good faith means that the Florida tenant has sufficient evidence and documentation of code enforcement issues.
Examples Of Retaliatory Conduct
- Tenant has complained to a government agency charged with responsibility for enforcement of a building, housing, or health code of a suspected violation applicable to the premises;
- Tenant has organized, encouraged or participated in a tenants’ organization;
- Tenant has paid rent to a condominium, cooperative, or homeowners’ association after demand from the association in order to pay the landlord’s obligation to the association; or
- Tenant has complained to landlord pursuant to §83.56(1), Florida Statutes.
Who Has The Burden?
If a landlord takes legal action against a tenant for possession of a rental property, the tenant can use evidence of retaliatory conduct as a defense. For instance, if the landlord sues the tenant for non-payment of rent, but the tenant was withholding rent due to the landlord’s failure to comply with housing codes, the tenant can use §83.60(1) or §83.64(2) of the Florida Statutes as a defense. Initially, the tenant has the burden of proving that the landlord’s primary reason for eviction is retaliatory. However, if the tenant can show this, the burden then shifts to the landlord to prove that there is a valid reason for the eviction, such as non-payment of rent, lease violations, or statutory violations.
If you’re a Florida landlord in Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Lantana, West Palm Beach, or Palm Beach County, call your West Palm Beach Eviction Attorneys today at Law Office of Ryan S. Shipp, PLLC and lets work together to remove your tenant the right way. Our experienced West Palm Beach Eviction Lawyers are here to assist with all of your Florida landlord needs. Call us today @ 561.699.0399.