By: Barry L. Miller, Esq. of Barry L. Miller, P.A., Offices Orlando.

The sunshine state, better known as Florida, is often dubbed the vacation state, the retirement state, or all around where individuals travel to soak in the sun rays, enjoy our beaches, or retreat from the snow. Friends and family from out of town may envy those who seek out a retreat from the icy winters from the north and are able to lounge on the beach year-round and avoid the unpleasant chores that come with shoveling snow or other unbearable weather conditions. Florida natives know better.

Between the months of June until the end of November, those who reside in Florida know that hurricane season is among us and should not be taken lightly. Homeowners and tenants who reside in Florida are reminded year-round to be prepared with a checklist of tasks necessary to complete prior to the short notice given when a hurricane is on its way. From retrieving hurricane shutters to flashlights to gallons of water, everyone should be prepared for the chaotic and unprecedented weather conditions that will arise. One question that may arise when a preparing for the unpredictable is does a landlord have a duty to prepare the rental property or apartment from the storm? It is possible that the landlord may have no intention to protect the property. It is important to refer to your lease agreement regarding the landlord’s obligation to assist you during the time leading up to the unpredictable storm.  Though, the hurricane potentially making landfall itself is enough to prompt stress, the real challenge could be the months following.

After a major storm, the areas where the hurricane has left could be followed with devastating damage that could potentially take weeks to months to repair. If you are renting out a property during that time- what are you left to do? It may take days to weeks to be able to return to your residence if you were evacuated and must wait to return to see what the true damage is. Once you return, you may find your home standing and safe, however in worse circumstances you may be greeted with uninhabitable home. There is no way to predict the damage that communities may face, but it is important to know what your rights are after your return home.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR PROPERTY IS UNINHABITABLE?

Rental properties or apartments may suffer from damage that make their home inhabitable after a catastrophic storm treks through the state and leave the tenant with questions from what do I do next, to what is my landlord responsible for? Fortunately, Florida is aware of possibility of such circumstances and protects tenants in these situations. Under Florida Statute 83.63, if a tenant’s residence is “damaged or destroyed other than by the wrongful or negligent acts of the tenant so that the enjoyment of the premises is substantially impaired, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement and immediately vacate the premises.” Proper notice to your landlord is key. Additionally, it is important to review your lease agreement regarding you and your landlord’s agreement regarding a destruction from natural disasters or acts of God and what the next steps may be.

During this hurricane season, if you find yourself in a dispute with your landlord regarding the aftermath of a major storm and are in need of a real estate attorney to discuss your options, please reach out to Barry Miller Law. Contact our office at 407-423-1700 or info@barrymillerlaw.com to set up a consultation or to learn more.