What are a tenant’s rights if they have to vacate their apartment due to a flood?

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What are a tenant’s rights if they have to vacate their apartment due to a flood?

My daughter’s apartment had a flood on Friday due to an ongoing plumbing issue. There is visible water damage on the ceiling and walls on the 1st floor. They have cut a hole in the ceiling to fix the leak but have not opened up any of the other areas that show water damage. They have setup fans and dehumidifiers down stairs and in the bathrooms upstairs. They did all of this on Friday, as of Sunday no additional work has been done and the smell is terrible. My daughter and her room mates have not stayed there since Thursday night. What options do they have.

Asked on September 10, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Your daughter's remedies depend on the circumstances of the problem and the landlord's efforts to fix it.  Florida Statutes section 83.56 lists the remedies and you can find a copy by Googling this statute. 

In general, the landlord is required to keep the plumbing in good working order and correct damage.  If the landlord is trying to fix the problems but your daughter cannot stay in the apartment, technically she and her roommates are not responsible for rent during this time.  If they can stay in the apartment, they are entitled to reduced rent.  If the landlord is not fixing the problem, they can give a notice to vacate.

As a practical matter, your daughter can send a letter advising that the apartment is "untenantable," asking when the damage will be repaired, and asking what discount the tenants will receive from this.  Maybe the landlord will give them a break. 


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