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I live in a rental apartment in Florida. This apartment is located in a 7-story building with an attached 7-story garage. Main entry points on each floor have closed-circuit cameras monitored by security guards. The doors on the street-level are locked and can only be opened when swiping a badge at an adjacent sensor.

On another hand it is (technically) possible to enter the building from the garage without swiping a badge, although in this case an alarm will sound and the security team is alerted.

And like other apartment complexes, this one also provides a maintenance service that can come and repair any broken appliances such as the AC or the dishwasher.

The maintenance service people are able to enter the apartment on their own key although they typically knock first. However they usually do not inform us ahead of time of when they might be here (probably because they are on premise and it's a single building so it is easier for them to just 'pop by').

Now after reading news articles such as this one (about an apartment security guard that was arrested for Florida woman’s murder) I have a problem with the personnel having an unrestricted access to my apartment.

I would like to be able to install a security chain on the inside of my apartment door, but I noticed that the contract says the following:

  1. Right to Enter and Terminate. Resident(s) consent to Owner entering the Premises at any time and for any purpose without notice.

Can my landlord legally say no to installing a security chain on my apartment door?

  • Florida Title VI Chapter 83 Section 53 defines when and under what circumstances a landlord may enter a tenant's premises. It is not "at any time for any purpose without notice." (flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2011/83.53) Is that item 7 part of another definition or does your landlord really believe that they can enter your apartment at any time for any reason? Are you asking if the landlord has to pay for your security chain (probably not) or if the landlord can prevent you from installing a security chain (maybe)? – Dave D Nov 1 '15 at 3:48
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    If the landlord wishes to enter your apartment while it is empty, the security chain will not be locked. If the landlord wishes to enter while the apartment is occupied, he probably requires consent, meaning you'd be within your rights to call the police if he tried to force his way in. If the landlord requires entry when chain is somehow locked despite the apartment being vacant, he can use a bolt cutter. There is no rational justificationfor denying a security chain. – phoog Nov 1 '15 at 5:05
  • @phoog ... except for the damage that the installation would necessarily do to the door and door frame. – Dale M Nov 1 '15 at 22:21
  • @DaleM The landlord could claim that, I suppose, but if you were worried about that, you could also remove the chain and repair the damage before moving out. In some jurisdictions, you could probably also withhold the cost of installing the chain from your rent, as an improvement to the premises. – phoog Nov 1 '15 at 23:30
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The landlord may, in fact, regulate how his or her property is modified, such as the installation of additional locks fastened to the structure. However, they cannot prohibit tenants from adding temporary locking devices, such as levers or wedges applied to the hold the door shut against intruders. There are hundreds of such devices on the market, which are similar to items sometimes carried as "travelers' locks", for use in dodgy hotel rooms.

As for the landlord's alleged "right to enter at any time and for any purpose", they can clearly show that you consented to it in the agreement and, should it come to this, you would have to prove that including such consent was "unconscionable", or unenforceable, or a "prohibited provision", under Florida law.

Clearly there are implied limits to "any purpose", where you cannot be presumed to have granted permission for them to commit a criminal act against you or your property, or in violation of your "right to privacy", among other things.

The statute on "landlord right of entry" is permissive, not prohibitive. It says "landlord may enter" under the various listed conditions, but does not say "may ONLY enter" under such conditions. If you look in your rental agreement and find "quiet enjoyment" as an obligation of the landlord, you may certainly attempt to enforce that against their uninvited entry to your home.

For comparison, some other states have laws that specifically prohibit the landlord from entering for any reason, without consent of a tenant, except as specifically provided in the statute (e.g., in an emergency). Some states also authorize entry after giving reasonable notice, whether or not the tenant consents. Florida law also authorizes such entry under limited circumstances, to the extent it's relevant to your question.

  • Florida landlord/tenant law says "A provision in a rental agreement is void and unenforceable to the extent that it (a) Purports to waive or preclude the rights, remedies, or requirements set forth in this part." So I suppose the provision quoted in the question is void without having to be unconscionable, at least to the extent that reasonable notice is a "requirement set forth in this part." (Also for comparison, some jurisdictions require landlords to install security chains on apartment doors.) – phoog Sep 8 '17 at 22:18
  • Agreed, but I don’t think it would be a major hurdle proving unconscionability in this case if it was needed. One presumes the landlord has a standard contract that he uses time and again and, thus, is in a superior position to know its contents far better than a tenant renting from him for the first time. – A.fm. Sep 9 '17 at 1:36
  • Sure, you can make the argument that such provisions are "void and unenforceable", but only if you can also show the tenant cannot intentionally waive those rights, which is not how this particular statute reads. Given the number of things FL statutes DO say about specific tenant rights (e.g., to have a US flag), you'd think they would have included language on this one, if that was the legislative intent. – Upnorth Sep 10 '17 at 4:41

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