These are 9 of the most common reasons tenants can rightfully sue their landlords in Fort Walton Beach and how these situations can be avoided.
There are a lot of laws surrounding real estate. There’s no exception when it comes to rental properties and landlords. As a landlord, you must be aware of these real estate laws – both federal and local – to avoid trouble with your tenants.
Unfortunately, there have been times that landlords have been sued by their tenants. These cases are usually at the fault of a malicious landlord. However, if unaware of the laws, an innocent and uneducated landlord could fall into a situation where they could be rightfully sued by their tenant.
To avoid this situation, landlords should be aware of what problems could lead to Fort Walton Beach tenants suing them. By the end of this article, you’ll know of nine common reasons tenants can rightfully sue their landlord.
1. The Property is Uninhabitable
Tenants have the right to live in a safe and habitable property when renting from a landlord. This means that the structure is safe, plumbing and electricity work, and the heating is functional during the winter.
If tenants have tried to contact the landlord about these issues and the landlord either is unreachable or refuses to repair the property, there are grounds to sue.
2. Security Deposit isn’t Returned
There have been instances where landlords don’t return the security deposit and simply disappear with it. Many tenants depend on getting this money back, especially when putting a deposit down on a new apartment.
While money from a security deposit may be kept, the landlord must use it to repair damages caused by the tenant during the lease. This keeping of it also requires the landlord to provide the tenant with an itemized receipt of how the money was used.
3. Breaking State Security Deposit Laws
Each state has different laws about what landlords can and cannot do with a security deposit. These regulations typically define how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit, where it must be kept, and how many days it must be returned after the lease has ended.
If a landlord breaks these laws – for example, not returning the security deposit on time – the tenants have a legal right to sue. These situations can be encountered by an unknowing landlord, which is why it’s essential to review local landlord-tenant laws.
4. Illegally Entering the Property
While the rental property in Fort Walton Beach does belong to the landlord, that does not give them the right to enter the property whenever they want. The tenants have a right to privacy as they are creating a home in the residence.
Typically, landlords must provide at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the property. This should also be stated in the lease. If a landlord enters the property without proper notice, tenants can rightfully sue them.
It’s important to note that there are exceptions to this rule in case of emergencies.
5. The Tenant is Injured on the Property
Accidents happen, but if a tenant is injured on the property due to the negligence of the landlord, the tenant has the right to sue for damages.
For example, a tenant can sue if they have asked the landlord to fix a broken step, and that step led to an injury because the landlord refused to make the repair.
However, if the tenant is injured on the property due to their own negligence, they do not have the right to sue the landlord for the injury.
6. Landlord Doesn’t Reimburse Tenant for Repairs
Oftentimes tenants will offer to make repairs to the property themselves. This is sometimes easier because the tenant can schedule the maintenance for a time that works with their schedule.
However, if the landlord agrees to let the tenant make the repairs but doesn’t reimburse them for it, the tenant could sue the landlord for these repairs.
Now, these are usually bigger repairs or even replacements of appliances. These aren’t usually small things like patching a hole. Either way, the rules are the same. If a landlord doesn’t reimburse the tenant for a repair, they can sue.
7. Housing Discrimination
Every single landlord should routinely review the Fair Housing Act laws. These laws protect groups against housing discrimination. Under this law, there is absolutely no tolerance to discrimination against race, sex, color, national origin, religion, familial status, and disability.
There are multiple forms of discrimination, both direct and indirect, that are covered within these laws. Whether done knowingly or not, a landlord who is found guilty of discrimination can face hefty fines.
8. Illegal Clauses in the Lease
Many new landlords decide to download a prewritten lease off of the internet and have their tenants sign it. While this saves a lot of time and some money, this can be dangerous to landlords.
Since each state has different landlord-tenant laws, leases should be written specifically for the landlord’s property. So, a lease downloaded from the internet that is meant for Wisconsin may not be valid in the state of Florida.
If there is an illegal clause in the lease, the tenant has a right to sue the landlord. For example, if there is a clause that bans all animals, even service animals, from the property, the tenant may sue the landlord. This is because service animals are protected under the Fair Housing Act.
9. Wrongful Eviction
Evictions are messy for both the tenant and the landlord. There are specific procedures that must be followed to ensure the eviction is handled professionally. If a landlord wrongfully evicts a tenant, the tenant can sue.
A wrong eviction includes a landlord changing the locks, taking the tenants’ belongings out of the property, or cutting off utilities. Tenants can take the landlord to court and will most likely win if this is the case.
These Situations are Avoidable with a High-Quality Property Manager
Landlords in Fort Walton Beach don’t have to worry about being sued by tenants if they work with a property management company. These companies have teams of professionals that are aware of landlord-tenant laws, so costly mistakes rarely happen.
Not only do they keep landlords safe from being sued by tenants by following these laws, but they also keep the property well-maintained, retain tenants better, and can even increase rental property income and value.
All American Realty is here to help landlords with properties in Fort Walton Beach stay out of these situations and make it easy being a landlord.
With an experienced management team, landlords can take advantage of our full-service property management company. From acquiring tenants to making repairs, we let you sit back and relax as you enjoy your passive income.
Contact us today to see how we can help you manage your rental property in Fort Walton Beach!