A MESSAGE TO FLORIDA RENTERS
Good Day (or whenever you are reading this)
Speaking from the heart: As most Florida Residents will painfully know and understand (especially if you are reading this, as you are likely seeking help in your LandLord Tenant Issue) the Florida Landlord-Tenant laws are unequal; they are not fair; and they do not help resident in any demonstrable way. If you are here, you are likely seeking legal assistance because your landlord is trying to take advantage of you. I am here to let you know this: that feeling you are feeling is real and your landlord is doing it because the system will let him. The Florida's Landlord Tenant Act will not help you. The system will not help you. Many, but not all Courts will often side with the landlords, because this is Florida and they are property owners - property owners tend to win.
If you are from an ethnic minority group or plainly "BLACK," you will suffer even more indignities if/when you attempt to file opposition to your Landlord's actions in Court. This is a very real thing. Some circuits may be better than others, and I'm sure many more Judges will also be better than others in this regard, but the SYSTEM ITSELF does not lend itself as one that represents the needs, rights, and wellbeing of Florida Renters....its even worse for BLACK Florida Residential Renters.
That doesn't mean that you shouldn't try nor refuse to fight. There is self resect and dignity in the fight for what is right. However, one must ask themselves this question: Is it the landlord or an entire system that looks at me and discounts everything I have said, simply because of who I am, what I look like, my marital status, my level of wealth or poverty, or all of the above?
If/When you are from an ethnic minority, especially Black and poor(er); when you get into court, you will quickly realize that everyone on your side of the bench looks like you, where as you will be unable to identify anyone on any other side that can relate to your issue (let alone look like you). Most of those people on the other side of the bar do not live where you live, come from where you come from, and most often in their private life, try to move as far away from "people like you" as they can. So to think your fight for your family's home or apartment/condo isn't one that the very people on the other side of the bar have a vested interest in PERSONALLY, think again. Whole neighborhoods are created to get away from people LIKE YOU. Whole Schools are built to prevent people LIKE YOU from sending their children there. Nearly ALL of it is related to who people are and where they LIVE. And in Florida, there is a societal bias against renters, especially Black renters. The belief is that they bring crime and lower property values, but this is a reality that has followed Black People since Redlining was the rule. (It is still institutionally practiced)
If you don't fight you lose. If you do fight, you will still likely lose, but you can keep your chin high. Maybe it will weigh on the conscious of those tasks to do what is right, but it's unlikely...you'll never know if it does and you will never feel it in your life.
Landlord Tenant Law is weighted 99% for landlords and 1% towards filing fees. The legal process mirrors this. The laws put in place (Chapter 83) will likely not help you at all. And if you are in subsidized housing, forget about it. And being Black and in subsidized housing...you have NO allies. The City(s) won't help you, the County won't help you, and those tasked with ensuring that the Laws are spread evenly won't help you, even with a guide (the law).
We are here to help give you as much vital information as we can. But we are not taking Landlord Tenant Cases to Court anymore. We have no more faith in the system designed to fight for you.
Malik Leigh, Esq.
***Remember, an "Intent to Evict" is simply a tool landlords use to try to cheaply remove tenants. They mean nothing. A "15-30 Day Notice to Cure" means something.