Commercial and Residential Landlord-Tenant Disputes


The rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords are governed under state laws, as set forth by Florida Statutes, Chapter 83. For those renting in federally subsidized housing, there are additional regulations on the federal level. Whether the rental is a house, apartment, condominium, or commercial property, the landlord-tenant relationship is a legal contract. Disputes may require negotiation, mediation, or litigation if one party asserts that the other has breached the contract.

A Sampling of Tenant Rights are:

  • The right for privacy, as a property owner may enter a rented dwelling only with the tenant’s permission to make repairs, giving the tenant reasonable notice. However, in an emergency, the requirement of notice may be waived.
  • The right of a habitable dwelling as the residence or commercial building must be compliant with local building and safety codes. There must be working water, electricity, plumbing, and security measures such as locks on the windows and doors.
  • The right to have a security deposit returned within 15 days of the move-out date. If not returned, the landlord must give written notice explaining why a portion or its entirety is withheld. A tenant must provide a forwarding address to the property owner, or the property owner has the right to keep the money.

A Sampling of Landlord Rights are:

  • The right to start eviction proceedings should a tenant allegedly violate the terms of the lease.
  • The right to have real property returned from a tenant undamaged except for ordinary wear and tear.
  • The right to re-enter a property should a tenant abandon a rental without notice for a period of more than 15 days.

Common conflicts between landlords and tenants are related to property maintenance, cleanliness, property damage, non-payment of rent, violations of community or commercial codes, refusal to return security deposits, or undisclosed safety hazards leading to accidents or illness.

Property Owners and Tenants Must Know their Rights

It is prudent to hire a real estate attorney with landlord-tenant experience to draft or review a lease to comply with local, state, and federal regulations. The drafting of a lease involves many details and an understanding of the goals of each party. However, a well-prepared lease does not ensure that a legal dispute will not arise. The landlord-tenant relationship can quickly become adversarial, and both parties need to have experienced legal counsel on their side. Real estate laws are constantly evolving, and litigation demands the skilled guidance of a seasoned real estate attorney to provide strategic advice and representation.

For non-compliance with a lease, an attorney can assist with legal actions such as terminating the rental agreement, retaking possession of a property, terminating the tenant’s liability, and more. Landlord-tenant disputes affect personal lives and livelihoods and need to be resolved expediently and affordably.

How to Seek Professional Guidance for a Landlord-Tenant Dispute

A trusted landlord-tenant attorney can help you make well-informed decisions that protect your interests and your future. My Lawyer Directory is an online, comprehensive listing that can help you search and find the right attorney for your situation. Our attorney profiles offer specific information about the lawyer’s education, experience, practice areas, and client reviews that reflect their law practice philosophy.