When evicting a disabled person in Florida, state law does not allow landlords to evict a tenant with a disability simply because of their disability. This type of discriminatory eviction not only violates the Florida Fair Housing Act but also the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. On the flip side, disabled tenants also must follow the same laws as able-bodied tenants when paying rent.
Tenant’s Responsibility to Pay Rent
A Florida tenant, disabled or not, must pay his rent on time according to the terms of her lease. A disability does not exempt a tenant from meeting this obligation. But even if a disabled tenant fails to pay rent on time, a landlord cannot force an eviction without following certain legal procedures.
Only in certain circumstances does a tenant have the legal right to withhold rent. One example is when a landlord fails to provide a safe and habitable home that meets local housing codes. Even then, the tenant must get the court’s permission to use the withheld rent to fix the problem that the landlord failed to resolve. If the tenant doesn't follow this court procedure, a landlord may still evict him for nonpayment of rent.
What a Landlord Cannot Do
Legal reasons for eviction in Florida include forcing a tenant to move out for failing to pay rent, staying beyond a lease’s term or breaking a condition of the lease. The landlord must follow the proper steps to evict, however. Certain "self-help" mechanisms by the landlord are illegal.
Illegal actions to force an eviction include shutting off a tenant’s utilities, such as water or electricity; changing the locks (or removing them entirely); and removing a tenant’s property from the rental unit.
If a landlord uses any of these illegal tactics, the court may order her to pay the tenant’s rent for three months. She’ll have to pay more than that if her actions cause the tenant more damages than three months’ rent payments would cover. When a court rules in favor of the tenant, it also may order the landlord to pay the tenant’s attorney fees.
Reasonable Accommodations for Disabled Tenants
Florida landlords must provide disabled tenants with “reasonable accommodations” to comply with the federal Fair Housing Act, as long as the costs for these accommodations do not place an undue financial burden on the landlord. These accommodations apply to the rules, policies, practices or services that are necessary to give a disabled tenant an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling that non-disabled tenants have. A disabled tenant must provide the landlord with a written request for a reasonable accommodation.
For example, the landlord may be required to provide a reserved parking space for a disabled tenant that is close to the rental home, and the landlord must also pay for marking the parking space. If the on-site laundry facility is to be used only by tenants, the landlord may allow a non-resident to use the laundry room to take care of the disabled tenant’s laundry.
Or, if a disabled tenant receives an eviction notice that’s related to behavior due to mental illness, the landlord must grant the tenant’s request to stop eviction proceedings while the tenant receives medical treatment. An exception to this law is if the landlord can prove that the safety of other tenants is compromised by letting the disabled tenant remain on the property.
With these examples, and many others, tenants are protected from eviction if they violate the normal rules of a rental property.
Florida Eviction Laws Without Lease
Under Florida law, when a tenant pays rent to a landlord, the tenant who doesn’t have a written lease enjoys the same rights as tenants who do have written leases. If a tenant pays rent on a weekly basis, the landlord only has to give seven days’ written notice of his intention to evict the tenant before the end of a weekly rental period. And if a tenant pays rent on a monthly basis, the landlord must give 15 days’ written notice before the end of a monthly rental period.
- The Florida Bar: Consumer Pamphlet - Rights and Duties of Tenants and Landlords
- Florida Law Help: Evictions - What Every Tenant Should Know
- Florida Law Help: Eviction and Fair Housing
- Legal Beagle: Housing Discrimination: History, Laws & Current Statistics
- Legal Beagle: Rights of Tenants Without a Lease in Florida
- Legal Beagle: Florida Statutes for Eviction of Disabled People
- Legal Beagle: How Long Does It Take to Get Evicted in Florida?
- Legal Beagle: What Is the Maximum Fine for a Late Rent Payment in Florida?
- Legal Beagle: What Can Be Done If a Landlord Breaks a Lease?
- Legal Beagle: How to Send a Letter to a Tenant for Nonpayment of Rent
Victoria Lee Blackstone was formerly with Freddie Mac’s mortgage acquisition department, where she funded multi-million-dollar loan pools for primary lending institutions, worked on a mortgage fraud task force and wrote the convertible ARM section of the company’s policies and procedures manual. Currently, Blackstone is a professional writer with expertise in the fields of mortgage, finance, budgeting, tax and law. She is the author of more than 2,000 published works for newspapers, magazines, online publications and individual clients.