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Posted on: November 2, 2018

Legal Information for Tenants and Landlords

A MESSAGE FOR BAY COUNTY TENANTS FROM SHERIFF TOMMY FORD

Since Hurricane Michael, we have received reports of tenants being told by their landlords that they have to get out of their rental property with only a one or two-days notice, which is invalid. Tenants need to know their rights if their landlord attempts to terminate a lease without legal process. 

If a landlord attempts to use the legal three step process to evict, but uses an INVALID REASON, that is a violation and the eviction is invalid.

A tenant’s lease can’t be terminated due to damage to the residence. A landlord that wants to schedule repairs must give the tenant reasonable notice and follow the guidelines found in Florida State Statute 83.53. The tenant can’t be kicked out of the residence in order for repairs to be done.

Lease agreements can’t be terminated by the landlord just because the landlord has been displaced and needs a place to live.

Under Florida Landlord Tenant Law, there is a damage provision for tenants who wish to break a lease because of the damage to the rental unit. This provision becomes the controlling law in a natural disaster like Hurricane Michael. This is the case even if a tenant’s lease says something different.

The provision basically states that if a rental unit is damaged or destroyed so that the tenant’s enjoyment of the rental unit is substantially impaired, the tenant can terminate the rental agreement and get out immediately. If a tenant desires to live in a part of the rental unit that is functional and vacate the damaged part, then the liability of the tenant for rent has to be reduced to reflect the fair rental value of the part that was damaged and is unlivable by the tenant.

Know your rights as a tenant. If you have more questions and need legal counsel call the Florida Disaster Legal Hotline at 1-866-550-2929.


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A MESSAGE FOR BAY COUNTY LANDLORDS FROM SHERIFF TOMMY FORD

The laws concerning eviction have not changed just because there has been a hurricane. There is no emergency statute that allows a landlord to evict a tenant out of their residence to do repairs.

Landlords CAN NOT terminate a lease due to damage to a rental unit.

Landlords DO NOT have the right to evict a tenant just to schedule repairs. Florida State Statute 83.53 explains what a reasonable notice is, and what guidelines must be followed concerning scheduling potential repairs.

Landlords CAN NOT put wording in a lease that waives a tenant’s rights under Florida State Statute 83.63.

Landlords that wish to evict a tenant or terminate a lease because of nonpayment of rent or violation of the lease must follow Florida State Statute guidelines to do it.

Landlords MUST follow a three-step process as outlined in Florida State Statute to evict a tenant. Landlords CAN NOT provide notice according to Florida State Statute for an INVALID REASON. That is also a violation and invalidates the notice.

Any landlord unsure of the process can get an Eviction Packet from room 105 at the Bay County Courthouse. The packet contains explicit instructions on the legal eviction process. 

Landlords can also obtain further help on the website baycoclerk.com. Click on FORMS and then EVICTIONS.

If a landlord has additional questions, please call Lt. V. Heath in the Civil Division of the Bay County Sheriff’s Office at (850) 747-4700.


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There is a Legal Clinic being offered to both Landlords and Tenants on Wednesday, November 7, 2018, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Sam’s Parking lot on 23rd Street, Panama City. The attorney answering questions at this clinic is Denise Rowan. Her numbers are (850) 381-0653 and (850) 215-4155.

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