As a renter, you may feel as if you have no remedy against a landlord who fails to keep your rental in safe and proper condition. However, Florida law does give you some power and ability to hold your landlord responsible. You have the option to withhold rent in serious situations.
The Florida Bar explains that withholding your rent is a situation where you must follow the law completely to avoid an eviction. You cannot just stop paying rent because your landlord will not fix a maintenance issue; there are specific steps you must follow.
Give written notice
The law says that you must provide your landlord with a written notice that you plan to withhold the rent or terminate the lease due to maintenance issues unless your landlord fixes the issue. You must state a time limit in the notice based on the law or your rental agreement. You must also state that you will withhold rent or move out if the landlord does not handle the issue(s) at hand.
Withhold the rent
If your landlord does not fix the issue within the time limit, you can then start withholding rent. If you remain in the rental, you can only withhold the amount equal to the loss of rental value you suffer due to the issue. If you move out, you may withhold all the rent. However, the court will eventually make you pay the rent that you withheld, so you should keep it in a separate bank account.
You must understand the amount of time your landlord has under the law to fix any issues. Furthermore, you must make sure that your landlord receives the written notice and have proof that you delivered the notice and he or she received it. This will help to protect you when you go to court and prove that you withheld the rent legally.