Palm Beach County’s government is renter-friendly. Tenants are responsible for just a few things, other than paying rent, including keeping the dwelling clean and removing trash; keeping the plumbing repaired and complying with housing and health codes; refraining from damaging or defacing the residency; and using systems such as electric, air conditioning, plumbing and heating, without abusing them.
Landlord responsibilities are divided into two categories. First, if the rental unit is a single-family house, duplex, triplex or mobile home, the landlord must make sure screens are in reasonable condition, and if not, repair them yearly; keep the plumbing in working condition; comply with building, housing and health codes; and keep structural components of the dwelling, such as the floor, foundation, doors, windows and walls, in good condition. For triplex units, or any unit that doesn’t fit into the aforementioned categories, the landlord must provide garbage removal and containers, a smoke detector, a working heater, running hot water, running water, locks and keys, and pest and animal control. If any of these things, such as working smoke detectors, are not otherwise agreed upon in writing, the landlord is responsible. However, that does not mean the landlord is responsible for water, garbage removal, water or utilities, though that is sometimes included in contracts.
Florida does not have specific rent control rules, though rates can only be increased at the beginning of a new lease.
For additional details, visit www.leg.state.fl.edu, explore Florida Statutes, select TITLE VI Civil Practice and Procedure, where Chapter 83 deals with landlord and tenant rules and regulations. The Florida Bar, at www.floridabar.org, offers an online pamphlet of tenant and landlord rights and duties. Utilize the search bar and search for “rights and duties of tenants and landlords.”
Regulations, Fire Codes and General Safety
Safety is always a priority. Make sure any residency with an elevator also has easily-accessible stairs, that there are smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
According to Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue local amendments, an apartment building with three to six units and a common area without fire protection equipment is to be inspected every three years. Apartments with three to six units without a common area and without fire protection equipment need to be inspected every five years. Apartments with seven units or more are to be inspected annually. Apartments with fire protection equipment are also to be inspected annually.
Hurricanes are a reality in South Florida. Though not an absolute requirement, be sure to ask about hurricane protection, be it coated glass or shutters, and past damage.
One of the many benefits of South Florida’s frequent sunny days and often mild weather – it rarely gets cold here – is that grilling and outdoor cooking is easily done almost every day of the year. Many apartment complexes and condo associations have communal outdoor grills.
Many resources are available for residents, or would-be residents at www.pbcgov.com.