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  • Writer's pictureThe Onyx Group

Do I Have to Pay for Tenant Relocation if My Property is Condemned?

Surfside’s Champlain Tower South condominium collapse in June 2021 claimed 98 lives and reshaped the South Florida rental market forever. In the year since the tragedy, rental properties throughout Miami-Dade and Broward county have been subject to rigorous inspections to ensure such a preventable loss of life never happens again.

This potentially life-saving measure unearthed concerning results with the Miami-Dade County Unsafe Structures Board revealing nearly 1,000 unsafe structures just one month following the Surfside collapse. Of these buildings, multiple rental properties have been condemned and deemed unsafe for habitation. Hundreds of tenants have been forced to relocate with minimal notice, causing many to seek compensation from their landlords for moving costs, rent reimbursement, and other claims.

As a South Florida property owner, understanding your legal obligations and options in these concerning circumstances is crucial. At Onyx Group Legal, we’re here to help you protect your best interests including answering your questions about landlord obligations in instances of property condemnation.

Do I Have to Pay for Tenant Relocation if My Property is Condemned?

Condemnation of a rental property is a landlord’s worst nightmare. Beyond lost income, costs for any potential repairs fall squarely on your shoulders. You may also be left with expenses related to the inspection itself and marketing costs should you elect to sell the property instead. These kinds of money pits can take years to recover from; facing additional costs from angry tenants seeking compensation can be enough to lead to bankruptcy.

So, are you obligated to cover moving costs if your property is condemned? The answer is tricky.

While there are no Florida laws or regulations which require a landlord to pay moving costs for tenants that are forced to relocate, tenants may be able to sue for compensation. This is because landlords are legally obligated to comply with local health and safety regulations and building codes. Failure to maintain a safe, habitable property violates tenants rights and opens you up to any number of potential consequences.

Under Florida law, tenants in these circumstances have the right to:

  • Withhold rent

  • Break leases without future rent payment obligations

  • Where applicable, pay for repairs themselves and deduct costs from the rent

  • Pursue legal action through small claims court

In the wake of the Surfside collapse and the highly publicized fight for compensation by displaced tenants, it is in your best interest to stay out of the courts if possible. The Onyx Group Legal can help you determine your best course of action and provide the legal support you need for navigating your specific situation.

What To Expect if You are Being Sued by a Tenant

If your tenants choose to seek compensation through the court system, you have a few options. Florida law stipulates a grace period of 15 days after receiving a written complaint to remedy the issue. While this is typically intended to give property owners time to complete repairs, you may use this time to try to settle things out of court. Making arrangements with your tenants like payment plans or alternative housing at a different property you may own can save you time and money down the line.

Even if your tenant is not willing to compromise, having documentation showing your attempts to remedy the issue may work in your favor during the hearing.

While preparing for your court date, knowing the compensation your tenant may seek can help you prepare your defense. In instances of forced eviction due to condemnation, your tenants may seek:

  • Rent reimbursement

  • Hotel and Airbnb cost reimbursement

  • Moving costs: truck rentals, packing and shipping costs, mover fees, etc.

  • Loss wages, if relocations resulted in missed work

  • Legal fees

  • Realtor costs and fees, etc.

Consulting an experienced legal team like The Onyx Group can change the tide of your case. We specialize in landlord-tenant law with success in even the most difficult cases. Contact our team today to learn more about how we can serve you.

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