Answers to 3 frequently asked questions about the legal rights of tenants

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JACKSONVILLE, Florida – Our phones were ringing off the hook Thursday morning when we offered viewers the opportunity to receive free legal advice from the Jacksonville area legal aid attorneys who were at News4Jax to answer questions about a legal rights. tenant.

We partnered with JALA to donate telephone banking after the I-TEAM Rodent Residential investigation discovered a mouse infestation in the Hilltop Village Apartments.

Here are the answers to the three most frequently asked questions:

Pest control, and who is responsible for providing it, was one of the three most common questions we received.

Lawyer Mary DeVries explains that the answer depends on where you live.

“In apartment buildings, it will usually be the owner,” DeVries said.

But if you live in a single-family home or townhouse, the tenant, not the landlord, is responsible for pest control, unless otherwise stated in your lease.

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DeVries says no matter where you live, any complaints should be documented in writing.

If that still doesn’t work, DeVries said, “If the landlord doesn’t correct the problem in a timely manner, follow the procedure under Florida law to withhold rent.”

So tenants like those I-TEAM spoke with at Hilltop Village Apartments who say their apartments are infested with mice can’t just stop paying their rent without filling out the proper paperwork first.

Another frequently asked question in our phone bank comes from tenants who say their landlord isn’t doing the necessary repairs. Attorney James Tyer says if things go wrong, call and report the issues to the city’s municipal code compliance division.

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“If the city’s code enforcement inspects the property and it fails, then if the owner refuses to perform the repair, the city will cite them for that violation,” Tyer said.

Tyer says no homeowner wants to pay a fine, so most homeowners do the repairs.

This code quote is also an important form of proof if a tenant wants to stop paying their rent until repairs are done.

Telephone banking

Another frequent question Thursday came from tenants complaining that they had received an eviction notice.

It is important that you know this:

“They cannot be evicted from their homes until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lift its moratorium,” lawyer Suzanne Garrow said in reference to the moratorium on evictions, which does not expire. until June 30.

Until then, tenants cannot be forced out of their homes if they have proof that they have lost income during the pandemic or have medical bills related to COVID-19 that prevent them from paying their rent.

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JALA offers free clinics every Wednesday to tenants who need help settling disputes with landlords. Call 904-356-8371 to make an appointment and learn more.

JALA also has offices in St. Johns and Clay counties. To learn more about how to contact JALA based on where you live, visit jaxlegalaid.org/contacts.

On the homepage of JALA’s website, you can also find links to “I am being deported and I need help” and “Protections against deportations during the COVID-19 crisis. “.

And if your rental unit needs repairs, on the JALA website you can also find the landlord’s responsibilities to the tenant and the tenant’s responsibilities to the landlord.

Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.

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