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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Default Rats in the Rental Unit, How Much is Too Much

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: FL
    My friend moved in to a rental unit in Orlando, she is in the second floor, two bedroom apartment, the place is next to a lake. I stayed there one weekend, I slept in the living room and at 2am in the morning I heard rats squeaking in the kitchen wall, several feet from where I was sleeping in the living room couch, this went on for a good 3 hours, they came in through the AC closet which is in one of the kitchen walls, I could actually hear them squeaking and moving several feet away from me, the only thing separating us was the door from AC unit. I had a really bad night as I figured they were going to run around the living room anytime. The next morning we opened the door where the AC unit is and there were fresh rat feces, they also had knocked down the pipe that drains the AC)..

    I spoke with my friend the next morning and she said that the handy man for the building had patched the holes but apparently he didnt patched all of them. That same day I was walking my friends dog and I met the building manager, I told her about the rats the night before, she mentioned she was new to the place and that she understood there was a problem with rats, she had ordered all the ceiling and holes to be closed so the rats couldn't find their way in to the walls. She said she would have the handy man check to see and patch any holes. This was back on labor weekend. Today I spoke with my friend as I was going to go and visit her this weekend, she said that finally pest control came in and put out traps, apparently they were living in the stove, they also tore the dogs toys to build their nests, which tells me that they were out and about the apartment. My friend would like at least the stove to be changed or something.

    They are sealing the building but this will take 4-6 weeks, in the meantime they are using the rental unit next to hers as bait to bring them in an kill them, she woke up yesterday and with two dead rats in the stove and one on the floor. there are feces all over the stove. They are still renting units even when they know they have a rat infestation.

    I am a guy who used to be a boy scout, slept in tents in the woods of south america, not afraid of sleeping outside, but the thought of rats running around a couple feet from me was very eerie.

    Can my friend move out of the place? she doesnt want to loose her deposit, apparently the building manager is a lawyer from NY that has taken tenants to court(dont know for what tho, and not sure if she is licensed to practice in Florida either)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012

    Default Re: Rats in the Rental Unit, How Much is Too Much

    A bit too much extraneous detail there.

    "My friend would like at least the stove to be changed or something."

    Not sure what you mean by "or something" but the law wouldn't dictate that she get a new stove unless it were malfunctioning.

    I'd certainly feel free to write to the landlord and say that they needn't use a rental unit as "bait central" and that she expects some compensation for all the hassle related to this.

    I'd also be contacting code enforcement/local health dept. folks just to document someone outside landlord is addressing.

    "Can my friend move out of the place?"

    She could do that even if there weren't a problem. That said, she should google "Florida landlord tenant" and start reading up on the actual statutes she'll get to via a link on the state-based site. She can issue a notice of termination if X health-related condition or material breach isn't addressed within a given period of time.

    I can't imagine why, if this situation were sole intolerable, she'd worry about whether she had to sue for return of her deposit. Of course, if she has a long-term lease in effect, she needs to worry about more than just a deposit.

    Doesn't matter if the landlord is licensed to practice in FL; she's a landlord and is free to take folks to court for real or perceived breaches.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Default Re: Rats in the Rental Unit, How Much is Too Much

    thank you for your response, what I meant by "something" is to get the landlord to hire someone to professionally clean the stove as rats lived and died inside the stove.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Rats in the Rental Unit, How Much is Too Much

    The first thing I would do is contact the local health department. Rats are known to carry diseases so your friend is living in unsafe living conditions.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Default Re: Rats in the Rental Unit, How Much is Too Much

    my friend called the city and the health inspector came, he said he was going to write up the the place, he didnt give her a copy of the report or anything. The health inspector told her to write a letter to the landlord letting them know that she will move out due to the unsafe living conditions.

    I read the FL statutes and they say that my friend needs to write a 7 day notice so the landlord can fix the problem, the extermination company told my friend that it will take 4-6 weeks to clear the infestation. Can my friend move out after the 7 days without losing her security deposit?

    this is florida's statute

    Landlord’s Duties
    Under Florida Statutes Section 83.51 the landlord is obligated to maintain the premises up to code, or if there is no applicable building code, to maintain the structure (including doors, windows and screens) and the plumbing in good working order. If the leased premises is a single family or duplex, the landlord may abrogate the duty to maintain in writing.
    Unless, otherwise agreed to in writing, the landlord must also make reasonable provision for
    the extermination of insects and rodents. The tenant can be required to vacate for up to four days for extermination, upon the provision of seven days notice, and shall received prorated rent, but no other compensation.
    Locks and keys
    Clean and safe condition of the common areas
    Garbage receptacles and removal
    Heat and hot water
    Smoke detectors
    The landlord may charge for garbage removal, water, and utilities.

    Raising failure to maintain as a defense.
    Florida Statutes Section 83.56 provides that if the landlord fails to comply with 83.51 FS within 7 days of being served with a notice of non-compliance (7 day notice to cure), the tenant may terminate the lease. If, however, the condition is due to causes beyond the landlord’s control and the landlord has made reasonable efforts to remedy them the following applies: basically since they have made efforts to remedy the problem they have to lower your rent, but you have to give them a notice.
    Premises is untenable & tenant vacates: tenant not liable for rent.
    Premises tenable & tenant does not vacate: the rent shall be reduced in proportion to the loss of rental value caused by the non-compliance.

    I have a question, even if the landlord is trying to fix the problem, I was there sept 3rd and there were rats in the apartment inside the walls, 1 month later they are finally addressing the problem with an extermination company, now the extermination company says it's 4-6 weeks, that is two months living under unsafely conditions, although the landlord is trying, the problem is not being fixed. Can my friend end this lease, get back her deposit with out breaching the lease?

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