Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in Florida

Hello. My Husband and I are moving out of our apartment and we gave our landlord the legal handwritten notice that we would be doing so, and we gave it to her a day or two before the 30 day required notice. She wanted MORE of a notice but, legally, it was not required and considering the death in the family and extra burdens and responsibilities, we didn't have time. Not like it matters anyway.

Ever since she has known that we are moving, things have been getting quite frankly, crazy. We have not stayed the night in the apartment for at least 2 months because my Grandpa died, my Grandma has been in rehab and my Uncle was in the hospital dying. We have been staying at my Grandparent's house because it was super close to the rehab facility.

Our lease it up on May 31, 2013. Our landlords DAUGHTER sent us a TEXT message on May 11th asking if she could show the place on May 12th to a potential renter. May 12th was going to be my FIRST Mother's day. We told her we had plans and she said that she would be showing it anyway. I called her and told her that we have plans for my FIRST Mother's Day and that on the 13th we have to take our son to his GI Specialist and Dietitian, out of town and that any day starting with Tuesday would be great. She said that she was coming anyway and that if we refused to let her show it that they would keep our deposit.

The text messaging that went on between us was as follows:

Alyssa: Hi Patrick, this is Alyssa. I will need to show your apartment at 5 pm tomorrow. Please let me

know if Kristina will be there.

Patrick and Kristina: We have plans all day tomorrow for Mother's Day, and Monday morning we will be

taking our son to see his GI Specialist and Dietitian at Nemours pediaric hospital in Jacksonville. We need

to clean up too, because of the recent death in the family we have not only been grieving but our

grandmother and uncle are both in the hospital right now.

Alyssa: Okay, I do need to show it and can let myself in and lock up when I leave. I assume the dog

won't be there?


Patrick and Kristina: Rude

Patrick and Kristina: Go ahead and show it. I can't believe how heartless you are. You have my permission to show it and screw up my first Mother's Day by being so horribly rude and not waiting until Tuesday... After my first Mother's Day and my son's GI Specialist and Dietitian appointments. We will fit it in with my dying uncle and my grandma in rehab and taking care of our son and working full time. We will be there when you bring a stranger into our house and cancel our special day.

Alyssa: Thank you. I will be there at 5 pm to show the apartment.

Patrick and Kristina: You're welcome. Thanks for all your help. Thanks for the 24 hour and 10 minute notice.

That is all that was said.

My Husband cleaned and took pictures of the place to prove that it WAS presentable. The man that came to view the apartment showed up early. My Husband got there at 4:50, I did not go because I wanted to avoid any further conflict with Alyssa.

This is what my Husband has said about what happened: "I told him that they gave me a 24 hour and 10 minute notice as states in lease. I told him we tried to reschedule because it was Kristina's 1st Mother's Day, sick uncle, grandmother in rehab, and our son has a Doctor appointment out of town on Monday. I told him that they told us the lease states 24 hours and they are giving 24 hour notice. He apologized, told him it wasn't his fault. Asked him if he was in school because he was wearing FSU shirt. Said he graduated and works for a state agency ( don't remember which one, something to do with voting I think).

He said he is currently living near a lot of students and it can get pretty loud. I told him it is generally pretty quiet with the exception of some kids who come down to the park after hours yelling and carrying on. I told him that us and the neighbor have had to call the cops on the kids multiple times and that Kristina went outside after calling and all the cops and all they did was tell them to go home. Sometimes they come back an hour or two after being told to leave by the police. I told him that the neighbor told me she saw them out there with a BB gun shooting geese, but I haven't witnessed it myself. Also said Janet was an awesome neighbor. Said she is quiet and the only thing you may hear are her dogs, but not very often and not loud. Then I looked at my phone and noticed it was a minute or two after 5 and suggested that if he was comfortable with it, I could go ahead and walk him through the apartment and let him take a look around. We walked In, he looked around. I mentioned that we were getting rid of the couch and he could have it If he wanted it. On the porch he said he liked the covered porch, I showed him that the roof of the

porch had a few holes in it and that when it rained some water would come through the holes and onto the porch. He asked about the pond out back and if it ever flooded. I told him that since I had been living there it had not flooded. We went back inside and Alyssa showed up. He said he already looked around and asked if she had a "spiel" (he was basically asking if she had a sales pitch of any kind) she said no, not really. Then she asked if he had any questions for her. He mentioned flooding again because the place is on stilts. She said six years ago it flooded a little past the trees in the backyard. And I mentioned once again that since I had been living here the yard had not flooded. Alyssa thanked me for coming. I said no problem. I asked him again on the way out if he wanted my phone number to let me know if he wanted the couch, and if he moved in I would just leave it for him. He said he didn't think he would want the couch. Everyone left."

After this happened, all seemed to be okay. On May 21st, we got a note duct taped to the apartment door. My husband only happened to be there because he was moving stuff out after work that day. He pulled it off and read it and now, all of a sudden, our landlord is accusing us of telling her that the

apartment would be ready for inspection 10 days after April 30th. She said that we acted inappropriately with her daughter and by "sending harassing text messages and initially refusing access". We didn't refuse access and I am pretty sure that my text messages were not harassment. She said that the unit was not in showable condition and that it prevented the landlord from renting the unit. We have pictures to prove that it was in showable condition. I don't think it mattered anyway considering that technically, we aren't

moving out until May 31st and we are moving BUT, it WAS clean. We have the pictures to PROVE it.

She is also now stating "we have discovered and verified with other tenants that a cat or cats were owned, kept or boarded on the premises without the landlords permission being requested or granted" and is threatening EVICTION because of this!?! We did have a DOG which we paid the deposit for but, she has not been there since around April 20th. There are NO animals in that building and were never cats there. She has NO proof or hard evidence since, well, there weren't any cats. I mean... it is just hear say.

She said that we have 7 days to pay her a non-refundable pet deposit for each cat I owned, kept, or boarded and clean the unit so that it is in showable condition. Our lease is up on MAY 31st. Isn't that that time I need to have it ready for inspection and not a day sooner!?! Trust me, when we move all of our stuff out and clean that place, we are taking MORE pictures to prove that it was clean on move out (we got it dirty by the way - spider webs, roaches, plain old dirty- and there is tons of stuff under the porch that isn't ours and even a rotten table and chairs out there that isn't ours that we never messed with).

I have been taken to places to view when people were moving out before and there were boxes everywhere and the people were complete slobs.

I tried to call our landlord after reading the letter and I told her that we need to talk about all of this and she immediately started yelling at me, calling me crazy, accusing me of harassing her daughter and accusing me of telling the man that came to view the apartment all kinds of crazy things that caused him to not want to rent the apartment, and she hung up on me. Flat out REFUSED to talk to me. I can't even call her to set up the MOVE OUT INSPECTION on May 31st for her to get her keys back, proof that utilities are being cut off, and to show her how clean the place is, etc.

We are thinking that she has just lost her mind and is trying to do anything and everything she can to scare us into handing over more money to her. Her daughter failed at moving to Atlanta and came back with nothing. As far as I am concerned, it is HER that is doing the harassing. I know that she is going to steal our deposit.

There is nothing that she can prove. I think that we have all of the evidence against her. Should we just get the heck out of there and let her run away with our deposit? I don't think she has a leg to stand on. I need all of the advice that I can get about every little thing that I have mentioned.

Asked on 5/22/13, 7:47 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Barry Stein De Cardenas, Freixas, Stein & Zachary

Honestly i did not read this entire thing. Security deposits are usually for damages to the unit and not as punishment for the landlord to exact when you dont do what they want. Your lease agreement controls. if the apartment is in good shape and no damages exist upon leaving, then pursue the deposit if after 30 days from leaving she does not impose a proper lien per statute. Hire an attorney to help, the statute provides for fees.

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Answered on 5/22/13, 7:54 am

Alan Smith Tallahassee Legal Counsel

I practice landlord-tenant law in Tallahassee. Feel free to call me at 850-778-1355 for a free consultation. In the event that she tries to withhold the deposit, you probably have a good case based on the facts you have posted. I'm not going to say very much else about this in a public forum.

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Answered on 5/22/13, 1:35 pm

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