Aug 26 2013

Recent Changes to Residential Landlord-Tenant Statutes

By: E. Scott Golden

A number of changes to the residential landlord-tenant law recently became effective.  Among the principal changes are the following:

1.            The security deposit law is tightened up. If a landlord does not notify the tenant of the intent to impose a claim within 30 days of the tenant’s move, the landlord must provide a full refund.  This is the same as prior law, but clarifies it.

2.            The leases for all landlords with at least five rental units must contain specific statutory language about security deposit protection procedures.  Because this language is new, current lease forms do not contain this language!   Without the language, a landlord’s claim on a tenant’s security deposit may be viewed as invalid or may limit the landlord’s claim on the security deposit.  All leases entered into as of January 1, 2014, must contain the new deposit language.

3.            A landlord can now evict after a seven-day notice for any purpose.  The law used to require further notice in some circumstances.  Not now.  Evictions can proceed more quickly.

4.            Landlords can now accept partial rental payments in the same month that they file an eviction.  However, the partial payment must be placed in the court registry or a new 3-day notice must be served.  Until now, some courts would not let landlords evict at any time in a month after receipt of payment of partial rent, even if the payment may have constituted past-due rent from a prior month, rather than rent for the current month.

5.            If a lease requires tenants to provide up to 60 days’ notice to vacate (or, presumably, for automatic renewal), the landlord must provide the same amount of notice of non-renewal.

These are just a few of the changes.  If you need to consult with a Broward County real estate attorney regarding a landlord-tenant matter, then please contact our firm at (954) 764-6766 to schedule an appointment.

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Aug 21 2013

Fla. Stat. § 489.128 Now Allows Payment to Some Unlicensed Contractors

By: E. Scott Golden

Because of the way courts have construed a recent change in Florida law, an unlicensed contractor may, in some circustances, be able to be paid through a court proceeding.  Until recently, that was not the case.

Under the old law, if a contractor was required to have a license to perform his services, but did not have a license, he could not recover anything in court if he was not paid.  Fla. Stat. §489.128 (which precludes any relief “in law or equity by the unlicensed contractor.”)  That has now changed, in certain circumstances.

In the case of MGM Constr. Svcs Corp. v. Travelers Cas. & Sur., 57 So. 3d 884 (Fla. 3d DCA 2011), the Third District Court of Appeal decided that, because of a recent change in the language of Section 489.128, if a contractor does not need to have a state license, but needs to have a county license, and fails to procure the county license, the contractor is not precluded by 489.128 from seeking affirmative relief in court.  This is a change from prior law (which continues to control for contractors who are required to have a state license).

We now have four situations when an unlicensed contractor performs services:

1.           State license required for the type of work being done: The contract is completely unenforceable in law and equity if the contractor did not have a license.  In at least one district (the 1st Distrcit Court of Appeal in North Florida), a person that has paid the unlicensed contractor is entitled to seek disgorgement of the money that has been paid, despite getting to keep the benefit of the contractor’s work.

2.            No state license required, but county license required, for the work being done, and county ordinance does not say that a contract by an unlicensed contractor is unenforceable:  The contract is not automatically unenforceable (at least in the 3d DCA in the MGM Construction case).  There is a series of factors to be weighed, which are listed in MGM in order to determine enforceability.

3.            No state license required, but county license required, for the work being done, and county ordinance says that a contract by an unlicensed contract is unenforceable:  MGM does not directly address this, but the decision intimates that the contract would not be enforceable

4.            No state or county license required: The contract is generally enforceable.

If you need to consult with a Fort Lauderdale construction attorney regarding an issue involving an unlicensed contractor, then please contact our firm at (954) 764-6766 to schedule an appointment.


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