The following are a list of rights that a tenant in unincorporated Orange County has under existing federal, state, and local laws:
1. NOTICE REQUIREMENTS:
ACCESS TO PROPERTY: Landlords may enter rental units from time to time to inspect, make repairs, supply agreed services such as pest control, or show the unit to prospective purchasers or tenants. Tenants are entitled to reasonable notice, and reasonable times, of a landlord’s access to the rental unit for the purpose of repair. “Reasonable notice” for the purpose of repair is notice given at least 24 hours prior to the entry, and reasonable time for the purpose of repair.
A landlord may enter a rental unit at any time to inspect, make repairs, supply agreed services, or show the unit to prospective purchasers or tenants when:
- The tenant gives consent;
- In cases of emergency;
- The tenant unreasonably withholds consent; or
- If the tenant is absent from the premises for a period of time equal to one-half the time for periodic rental payments. If the rent is current and the tenant notifies the landlord of an intended absence, then the landlord may enter only with the consent of the tenant or for the protection or preservation of the premises.
2. BUILDING CONDITIONS:
Landlords are generally required to maintain rental units in compliance with applicable building, housing, and health codes which may include working plumbing and heating, pest control, locking doors and windows, and other requirements in accordance with Section 83.51, Florida Statutes. If a tenant has concerns about building condition issues, they may contact Orange County’s Non-Emergency Help & Info by dialing 311 or (407) 836-3111.
NON-DISCRIMINATION PROVISIONS: Orange County prohibits certain landlords from discriminating against tenants based on race, color, religion, national origin, disability, marital status, familial status, lawful source of income, sex, sexual orientation, and actual or perceived status as a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking. Tenants have additional protections under the State and Federal Fair Housing Acts which also prohibit discrimination.
LAWFUL SOURCE OF INCOME: It is unlawful to refuse to rent after the making of a bona fide offer, to refuse to negotiate for the rental of, or otherwise to make unavailable or deny a rental unit to any individual because of their lawful source of income which includes any government housing assistance or subsidy (e.g. Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8)).
DISABILITY: It is unlawful to discriminate against a person in the rental of housing based on disability. Discrimination includes a landlord’s refusal to permit disabled tenants from making reasonable modifications necessary to afford said tenants’ equal opportunity to use and enjoy the dwelling; landlords may require reasonable modifications to be made at the expense of the tenant. Discrimination also includes a landlord’s refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a disabled tenant equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
4. DEPOSITS AND FEES:
SECURITY DEPOSIT: Landlords are required to provide tenants with written notice of the manner or location in which the landlord is holding a tenant’s advance rent or security deposit. Tenants are entitled to the return of their security deposit within 15 days of vacating the premises for termination of the lease if the landlord does not intend to impose a claim on the deposit. If the landlord does intend to impose a claim on the security deposit (e.g. tenant has damaged the dwelling unit), then the landlord has 30 days to give the tenant written notice of the landlord’s intent to impose a claim on the deposit and the reason for doing so via certified mail to the tenant’s last known mailing address in accordance with Section 83.49, Florida Statutes.
UTILITY FEE ESTIMATES: Tenants may obtain estimates of utility costs from service providers to understand the total cost of a rental unit. Contact information for utility providers is contained in the “Resources” section of this Notice.
5. PROHIBITED ACTIONS:
DISRUPTION OF SERVICE: Landlords cannot cause, directly or indirectly, the termination or interruption of any utility service furnished to the tenant, including, but not limited to, water, heat, light, electricity, gas, elevator, garbage collection, or refrigeration, whether or not the utility service is under the control of, or payment is made by, the landlord.
ACCESS TO UNIT: Landlords cannot prevent tenants from gaining reasonable access to the rental unit by any means, including, but not limited to, changing the locks, or using any locking device.
FREEDOM FROM RETAILTORY CONDUCT:
Landlords may not discriminatorily increase a tenant’s rent or decrease services to a tenant or bring or threaten to bring an action for possession or other civil action, primarily because the landlord is retaliating against the tenant.
Examples of conduct for which the landlord may not retaliate include, but are not limited to, situations where the tenant has complained to the County for enforcement of a building, housing, or health code or exercised the tenant’s rights under local, state, or federal fair housing laws.
6. CHALLENGE TO EVICTIONS:
CHALLENGE PROHIBITION: A rental agreement may not waive or preclude a tenant’s right to raise defenses to an eviction.
PRIVATE RIGHT OF ACTION: Tenants may seek to enforce certain rights in a court of law.