What Does Failure To Maintain The
Premises Mean When Used As An Affirmative Defense To A Florida Residential Eviction
Many residential tenants are unpleasantly surprised as to what a
landlord is required to do to be in compliance with Florida Statute § 83.51. The statute, in the absence of a
written agreement (i.e., a lease) stating otherwise, is not as hard for the landlord to comply with as the tenant
might expect. In fact, the statute does not impose a requirement that the premises even have an air conditioner!
The following is what is required of the landlord:
(1) The landlord at all times during the tenancy shall:
(a) Comply with the requirements of applicable building, housing,
and health codes; or
(b) Where there are no applicable building, housing, or health
codes, maintain the roofs, windows, screens, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, foundations, and all
other structural components in good repair and capable of resisting normal forces and loads and the plumbing in
reasonable working condition. However, the landlord shall not be required to maintain a mobile home or other
structure owned by the tenant.
Essentially, what this statute requires the landlord to do is to
comply with the local housing regulations and building codes.
LANDLORD RIGHTS TIP: Since the tenant is the party seeking to
establish that the landlord has not maintained the premises (i.e., complied with the local housing regulations),
the tenant has the burden of proof on that issue. As a result, Florida law requires that the tenant file the
appropriate motions with the Court to have it take judicial notice of the applicable building codes and local
housing regulations. Rodriguez v. Philip, 413 So. 2d 441 (Fla. 3d DCA 1982); Wilkins v. Tebbetts, 216 So. 2d 477
(Fla. 3d DCA 1968); Florida Statute §§ 90.201-90.205.