Judges are siding with landlords as Little Havana residents withhold rent in protest of poor living conditions, the Miami Herald reported. Despite holes in the walls, mold, a lack of hot water and broken stoves, tenants are being ordered to pay up or get out by Miami courts.
Under Florida law renters must either pay their landlord or a court-maintained escrow fund no matter how bad the living conditions.
“The rent deposit thing is so frustrating for us,” said Jeff Hearne, director of a tenants’ rights project at Legal Services of Greater Miami. “So many states I know don’t require you to put rent into the court until you’re either appealing the case or, say, asking for a continuance. But in Florida, we have a system set up where a tenant never gets their day in court.”
But speaking to a lawyer defending a Little Havana tenant, Judge Gladys Perez said, “You can’t live for free. So if your client doesn’t want to deposit anything, he can move. But if he’s staying there, he’s paying money.” [Miami Herald]