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How to File a Complaint Against a Florida Landlord

Camila Lopez - Florida Landlord Complaints - June 5, 2024

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    Our homes are the place where we should be able to feel safe and comfortable if all else feels out of place. However, conflicts with a landlord can leave us feeling powerless and frustrated. If a dispute arises between you and your landlord, you can file a complaint with the government and other organizations that support tenants. If you are still unable to solve your dispute after filing a complaint, you may want to consider suing in small claims court. In this article, we go over the different ways you can file a complaint against a landlord.

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a complaint letter to a landlord? Check out our complaint letter tool.

    Common Types of Complaints and Lawsuits Against Landlords

    Here are some common complaints people have against landlords: 

    • Your landlord refuses to return your security deposit after you move out. 

    • The terms under your lease have been breached. For example, your landlord increases the rent before the lease term was over, breaching the terms of the lease agreement.

    • Your landlord has breached Florida’s implied warranty of habitability. Warranty of habitability means that regardless of any contradicting lease term, your landlord is required to keep your unit in a habitable condition at all times. 

    • You are being harassed by the landlord. 

    • You experienced discrimination based on your race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, familial status, etc. For example, you were denied renting an apartment due to your gender.

    • Your landlord refuses to make necessary repairs to the rental unit as per the lease terms. 

    • Your landlord refuses to do anything about excessive noise or other issues you are having with your neighbors.

    If the unit you rented is outside of Florida, review our guides for other states.  

    Contact Your Landlord and Report a Complaint Directly

    The first step should always be to try to resolve your complaint with your landlord directly. 

    Start by informally communicating with your landlord: 

    If you've never had issues with your rental before but now have complaints about common spaces, security deposit disputes, or other issues, start by sharing your concerns through email or phone

    Formally communicate with your landlord: 

    If they ignore your informal requests, consider writing a formal letter, like a demand letter or complaint letter, as this way, you can outline your requests in the letter, and notify your landlord that you will seek further action if the issue is not resolved.  

    Here are some other reasons why you should consider sending a demand letter to your landlord: 

    1. If you end up filing a small claims action against your landlord, the judge in your case may ask you at your small claims hearing if you sent your landlord a demand letter before suing. Judges like to see that you tried to resolve your problem out of court first. By sending a written demand letter, there is a record of your attempt to settle that you can demonstrate to the judge.

    2. A demand letter signals to your landlord that you are serious about the dispute and willing to take action to resolve the problem.

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a complaint letter to a landlord? Check out our complaint letter tool.

    Here is a video on how our demand letter tool works:

    File a Complaint With the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 

    If you're wondering where to complain about a private landlord, you have options. Consider filing a complaint about housing discrimination or landlords who receive assistance from the federal government to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”).

    HUD is a United States federal agency (HUD is also described as a cabinet department). HUD is responsible for addressing America's housing needs, enforcing fair housing laws, and more. For example, HUD runs the Multifamily Housing Complaint Line, which enables tenants of HUD-insured and -assisted properties to report complaints such as poor maintenance, dangers to health and safety, mismanagement, and fraud.

    Below are instructions for how to report a bad landlord to HUD:

    • To report a bad landlord to the Multifamily Housing Complaint Line, call toll-free at (800) MULTI-70 (800) 685-8470) / TTY (800) 432-2209.

    • Complaints of housing discrimination are handled by the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (an office under HUD) at 1-800-669-9777.

    File a Complaint With the Appropriate State or City Agency

    You can also file a complaint against a landlord with a local government department in the city or county where the property is located. Below we have provided information on how to report a landlord or apartment complex to a local housing authority, state or city agency, or various rental commissions in Florida. 

    File a Complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services (FDACS)

    The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) processes landlord complaints and is responsible for enforcing the state’s housing laws. FDACS receives complaints regarding building safety conditions, compliance with health codes, dysfunctional facilities, and other housing concerns. You can file your landlord complaint with FDACS online

    File a Complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations

    The Florida Commission on Human Relations combats unlawful discrimination by ensuring all people have access to equal opportunities in housing. The Commission receives housing discrimination complaints from tenants who call, write, or visit the Commission within 1 year of the date on which the alleged act occurred. You can also submit complaints via fax or mail by filling out this questionnaire and submitting the printed copy to the Commission. 

    File a Complaint with the Miami Office of Housing Advocacy

    Miami-Dade County’s Office of Housing Advocacy (OHA) was formalized by the Tenant’s Bill of Rights Ordinance passed by the Board of County Commissioners on May 3, 2022. OHA receives landlord complaints regarding housing conditions, evictions, unreturned security deposits, and other housing concerns. The best way to file a complaint with OHA is online or by contacting the housing advocacy hotline at: 786-469-4545. 

    File a Complaint With the Better Business Bureau 

    The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a non-profit that serves as an intermediary between landlords and consumers. You will not find an individual landlord on the BBB. The larger the landlord you rented from, the more likely they are to be found on the BBB

    Reasons why a large landlord would respond to a BBB complaint: 

    • If the landlord is accredited with the BBB and doesn't respond to a BBB complaint, its accreditation may be revoked, and the complaint becomes part of its BBB profile.

    • Landlords know that a BBB rating can be an important determining factor when a prospective renter is making a decision to rent with that landlord.

    Learn how to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

    Consider Suing in Small Claims Court

    Have you filed a complaint with one of the above organizations or state/city agencies and still have not been able to resolve your landlord/tenant issue? It may be time to consider suing your landlord in Florida Small Claims Court. Small claims courts handle a variety of issues related to landlord/tenant disputes.


    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a complaint letter to a landlord? Check out our complaint letter tool.

    Author

    Camila Lopez

    Legal Educator @ People Clerk. Camila holds a law degree and is a certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.

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