Landlord/Tenant & Public Housing

Community Legal Services helps residents who are renting their homes or apartments stay in their homes when facing eviction, uninhabitable living conditions and other issues in both private and public (Section 8) housing. We do not assist with the return of security deposits but you can find out more information about this topic here.

Public Housing


Public housing was established to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers federal aid to local Public Housing Authorities (PHA). The PHAs manage housing for low-income residents at rents they can afford. HUD provides help and assistance in planning, developing, and managing the housing units.

Who is Eligible?

Public housing is limited to low-income families and individuals. A Housing Authority (HA) determines your eligibility based on: 1) annual gross income; 2) whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family; and 3) U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status. If you are eligible, the HA will check your references to make sure you and your family will be good tenants. HAs will deny admission to any applicant whose habits and practices may be expected to have a detrimental effect on other tenants or on the project’s environment.

HAs use income limits developed by HUD. HUD sets the lower income limits at 80% and very low income limits at 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which you choose to live. Income limits vary from area to area so you may be eligible at one HA but not at another. The HA serving your community can provide you with the income levels for your area and family size.

Private Landlord-Tenant Disputes

When a person pays to live in a house, apartment or mobile home, the renter becomes a tenant governed by Florida law. It does not matter whether payment is made weekly, monthly, or at other regular periods. Also, it does not matter whether the apartment, house, or mobile home is rented from a private person, a corporation, or most governmental entities. These facts are true even when there is no written “lease” agreement.

The Rights of a Tenant

A tenant has certain basic rights protected by Florida law, which the landlord must observe. A tenant is entitled to the right of private, peaceful possession of the dwelling. Once rented, the dwelling is the tenant’s to lawfully use. The landlord may only enter the dwelling in order to inspect the premises or to make necessary or agreed-upon repairs, but only if he or she first gives the tenant reasonable notice and comes at a convenient time. If an emergency exists, the requirement for notice may be shortened or waived.

The Responsibilities of a Tenant

A tenant also has responsibilities, which if not observed can lead to eviction. The tenant must pay the agreed-upon rent and do so on time. The tenant must comply with building, housing, and health codes. The tenant must maintain the dwelling without damage, keep the dwelling clean, and maintain the plumbing. The tenant must not violate the law or disturb the peace, nor allow guests to do so.

Read more about a landlord’s duties and your responsibilities as a tenant.

What if I am Having a Problem with my Landlord?

Has your landlord threatened to evict you? Does he/she refuse to make repairs that are needed to keep your home safe and habitable?  Before not paying your rent, know your rights and responsibilities. Call the CLSMF Helpline at 1-800-405-1417 for more information.