Answers to some of the questions renters face after a hurricane.
Q: If my rental home is damaged so badly by the hurricane that I can no longer live there, what choices do I have?
A: You may do one of the following:
Remove your belongings and write the landlord a letter stating that you want to end your rental agreement.
Treat the rental agreement as if it were in effect and move back in as soon as conditions allow, provided your home is repaired during the rental period.
If the landlord fails to act in a reasonably timely manner to repair your home, you may sue and ask a judge to order the repairs.
Q: If I want to keep on renting my home, but can't live in it now, do I have to pay rent?
A: According to the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. Chapter 73 - 330, if you are renting a residence that is damaged by a hurricane, you have special rights and responsibilities. Repairs are the responsibility of the landlord. You should immediately notify the landlord of any damage to the property and you should make reasonable efforts to help protect it from any additional damage. The landlord is responsible for having the residence repaired and returned to livable condition.
If repairs are not made within a reasonable time, the tenant has the right to have the rent reduced or in some instances terminate the lease and move.
Q: Can't the landlord end the rental agreement because I don't pay rent?
A: No. If your home is uninhabitable or deemed an "unsafe structure" your unit has no rental value. You have no duty to pay even though your rental period is running.
Q: If I can only use part of my home, what choices do I have?
A: If the use of your home is extremely limited you may adopt one of the options listed in the answer to number 1. If your home has not been condemned, you may continue to live in that portion that is not badly damaged.
Q: What do I do about rent if I live in only part of my home?
A: If you can only use part of your home, you only have to pay for the value of the percentage of the home that you use.
Q: How do I know how much to pay?
A: Try to reach a fair agreement with your landlord.
Q: What if my landlord and I can't agree?
A: You can do one of the following:
Pay only what you believe is a fair and reasonable rental price, and be prepared to substantiate your case when the landlord takes you to court for nonpayment of rent.