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DEFENDANT’S Landlord tenant – Action by tenant for return of security deposit – Claimed breach of habitability and landlord’s obligation to maintain the premises.

Pinellas County, FL

The plaintiff, a pro-se attorney, brought this action against the defendant landlord for return of a $________ security deposit. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant wrongfully withheld his deposit, failed to give proper notice of her claim on the security deposit and breached the lease by failing to maintain the premises. The plaintiff also alleged that the house he rented was not habitable during much of the lease period and the defendant violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The defendant countered that she corrected any problems at the house and that the plaintiff caused damage to the property which was in excess of his security deposit.

The plaintiff alleged that the air conditioning and appliances in the defendant’s single-family house did not function properly. He also claimed that there were plumbing problems and that the premises were virtually uninhabitable during much of the one-year lease period. The plaintiff’s claims of violation of the landlord tenant statute regarding notifications of the location of the security deposit were resolved by way of summary judgment. The plaintiff’s claim under Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff prior to trial after the court required the plaintiff to post a bond pursuant to Fla. Stat. ________.________.

The defendant, an architect, testified that she had completely renovated the house, including new laminate flooring and new appliances which were under warrantee during the plaintiff’s tenancy. The defendant testified that the plaintiff made some complaints about the dishwasher, refrigerator and air conditioner, but those items were repaired and the air conditioner was ultimately replaced. The defendant produced documents showing repair of the items in question. The defendant also testified that, when the plaintiff clogged the toilet, she informed him that it was his responsibility to unclog it. However, the defendant testified that she ultimately had the toilet unclogged.

The defendant testified that, after the plaintiff moved out of the house, she discovered that his three dogs had urinated on the laminate flooring and the flooring required replacement. The defendant introduced photographs depicting the condition of the flooring when the plaintiff moved out. The defendant also called a flooring expert who testified that, when he removed the lament flooring, there was crystalized urine under the floor.The jury found for the defendant on all counts. The defendant filed a post-trial motion for attorney and costs, but the case was resolved before the motion was heard.

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