Maintaining your rental property is not only a way to protect your investment but to comply with the law. There are certain maintenance responsibilities for the landlord and the tenant to comply with, and in Florida those responsibilities are enumerated in Florida Statutes § 83.51 and § 83.52.
Before a tenant takes possession the landlord should inspect the premises and make any necessary repairs so that the unit is reasonably safe and free of any inherently unsafe or dangerous conditions that may not be apparent to the tenant. Florida specifies that the landlord must ensure that screens are installed in a reasonable condition, and that any damage to screens must be repaired annually. Of course working smoke detection devices must be installed prior to the beginning of the tenancy.
During the tenancy the landlord must maintain the structural components of the premises, and specifically the roof, windows, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, and foundations. To “maintain” means to make sure the structure is in good repair and is capable of resisting normal forces and loads. Other maintenance responsibilities relate to general habitability of the unit, such as making sure the heating and plumbing is in working condition, extermination for insects and vermin is addressed, locks and keys are provided and in working condition, that outside receptacles for garbage are provided and garbage is removed, and that common areas are kept in a clean and safe condition.
Aside from the very general “don’t wreck my place”, landlords can rely on Florida Statute § 83.52 to guide the tenant in their maintenance responsibilities, which are pretty clear:
- comply with all obligations imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building, housing, and health codes;
- keep the Premises clean and sanitary;
- remove from the Premises all garbage in a clean and sanitary manner;
- keep all plumbing fixtures used by Tenant clean and sanitary and in repair;
- use and operate in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators;
- conduct himself or herself, and require other persons on the Premises with his or her consent to conduct themselves, in a manner that does not unreasonably disturb Tenant’s neighbors or constitute a breach of the peace; and
- notify Landlord immediately of any defects, maintenance issues, or dangerous conditions of which Tenant becomes aware;
Finally, it’s always a good idea to go over these maintenance responsibilities with your tenant prior to moving in as part of a review of the lease agreement.