Landlord's repair obligations

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Landlords, as well as tenants, have responsibilities for the property as stipulated by law or rental contract. Both parties should know their obligations and fulfill them accordingly within the right period. Sometimes however, either party falter in their responsibilities.

The landlord should keep the property in good shape and make it habitable to the tenants. There are certain specific maintenance obligations owed the tenant by the landlord under the law as should be contained in the lease agreement and vice versa.

Landlord's repair obligations

The landlord is responsible for structural and exterior repairs on the property. The housing unit must be kept habitable by the landlord, as well as public areas. It is also the duty of the landlord to maintain hot and cold running water, potable water, sewage connections, smoke detectors, weather protection, windows and locks, appliances, heating and air conditioning. Others include pest control, water leaks, and household items like washing machines and dishwashers that come with the property.

The landlord is not expected to magically know about the existence of things that need fixing on the property. The tenant must inform the landlord of any repairs that needs to be made.

How long does the landlord have to fix the damage?

Basically, a landlord is allowed 'reasonable time' to make the repairs. The landlord has 14 days from the time of notification to fix whatever is wrong on the property.

There is a clause following the time frame though. The law stipulates that the problem must pose a threat to the tenant's health or security. This makes it a bit complex especially with an unscrupulous landlord.

The tenant has the right to bug the landlord with vocal and written requests for the repairs. When the landlord fails to meet this expectation, the tenant can file a complaint to the local authorities to enforce the necessary actions. Also, if after 30 days the landlord is unable to affect the repairs or refuses to do so, the tenant can terminate the lease but with prior notice to the landlord.

For emergency repairs like the loss of heat, power or water, the landlord has only 3 business days to fix the damage. This is because the damage can be life threatening, like loss of heat in the dead of winter.

How long should a tenant wait for the landlord to fix something on his property?

The tenant should not leave everything for the landlord to fix. Certain repairs should be handled by the tenant. The tenant should also be available when the landlord comes for the repairs to allow him/her access to the property.

In some cases where the landlord and the tenant have a cordial relationship, the landlord can mandate the tenant to fix the problem, and the cost will be deducted from the rent.

Some tenants withhold the rent till the landlord repairs the damage. While this is illegal, it is sometimes effective.

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If you encounter any issues with your landlord as regards fixing something, or are in doubt as to the right course of action to take, you can seek legal advice.

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Personal Injury, West Palm Beach Family Lawyer & Divorce Attorney Steven L. Winig, Esq. is a member of the Palm Beach County Bar Association, and is licensed to practice before all Florida State Courts, as well as the United States District Courts for Southern and Middle Florida. Winig Law routinely handles cases throughout Palm Beach County including West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Wellington, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, Greenacres, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach and surrounding areas.

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