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Jun 21

Rental Fundamentals: When Can a Landlord Enter the Unit?

Posted on June 21, 2018 at 4:15 pm by Dawn Corrigan

By Demetrius Pettway, Customer Service Representative

On April 1 of this year, Pensacola Housing implemented some changes to our HQS Inspection Policies. Since then, I’ve had a chance to see the impact the new policies are having on our landlords and tenants, and we’ve been able to pinpoint issues that may have escaped our attention before. One observation is that some landlords and tenants appear unaware that they are required to abide by the Florida statutes covering landlord and tenant relations, as well as the federal regulations that govern the voucher program.

Landlord/tenant law is covered in Chapter 83 of the Florida statutes, and the entire chapter is available online. One section that comes up a lot during the inspection process is section 83.53, “Landlord’s access to dwelling unit.” If our inspector arrives and the tenant is not available to grant access, sometimes the landlord or property manager wants to enter the unit to escort the inspector, but without providing the tenant with proper notice. However, the law says that unless it is an emergency, the landlord must provide the tenant with prior written notice when they intend to enter the unit to inspect it, to make repairs, or to show it to prospective buyers or renters.

Florida statute defines adequate notice as a minimum of 12 hours from the time of notification to the actual entering of the premises. The notice can be simple. Many apartment complexes will post a flyer-type letter to residents’ doors stating that maintenance or office personnel will be entering the unit on a specific future date, within a set time frame, for a specified reason, such as filter changes, pest spraying, or even just to inspect for items that need repairing. This method is easy to use, and I would suggest it for our individual and sole proprietor landlords as well.

It is legal for the landlord to give our inspector access to the unit, and for them to enter together when the tenant isn’t home, as long as this prior written notice has been delivered, or the tenant has given their consent. However, if the landlord can’t confirm that prior written notice was provided, our inspectors will not enter the unit.

When this issue comes up, sometimes landlords tell me prior written notice is covered in their lease. While it is a good idea to cover your maintenance and right-to-enter policies in your lease, a blanket policy like that is not sufficient to comply with section 83.53, which requires you to give prior written notice of your intent to enter the unit on a specific date.

Section 83.53 is not just for the benefit of tenants; it offers protections to the landlord as well. Under the law, the tenant cannot unreasonably withhold access to the premises. Sometimes we hear from landlords who say their tenant is refusing to allow them to enter the unit to make necessary repairs. When that happens, we remind the landlord that the tenant cannot unreasonably deny access. The landlord just needs to post their 12 hour notice, and then they can enter and complete the repairs.

As with so many things, the key to a successful landlord/tenant relationship is good communication. When landlords and tenants communicate their needs and concerns directly to each other, a better partnership results—and the HQS inspection process goes more smoothly, too!
May 22

A Brief History of a Parcel

Posted on May 22, 2018 at 12:26 pm by Dawn Corrigan

05-21-18 Google Map Showing Blount School with Caption
The parcel of land bounded by C, D, Chase, and Gregory Streets in Pensacola is still commonly referred to by residents as “the Blount School,” although the school that once thrived there was permanently closed in 1982, the building demolished in 2012.

Before the school was built, the city had designated the property for residential use; the Maxent Tract plat, recorded in 1906, envisioned 30 residential lots, plus some green space, on the 2.6 acre parcel. But fate had other plans.

Continue Reading...

May 02

Council on Aging’s Senior Dining Program Offers Food, Fellowship

Posted on May 2, 2018 at 12:46 pm by Dawn Corrigan

By Karen Thompson, Budget and Planning Manager

Everybody has heard of Meals-on-Wheels, but did you know there’s another nutritional program offered locally as well?

Senior Dining Program

It’s Senior Dining Program, a neighborhood-based program that serves meals at Westminster Village (pictured) and four other locations around the City. Intended for residents who are mobile enough to get out for lunch, Senior Dining Program affords residents who are 60 years and older the opportunity to share their midday meal with other adults. Hot, nutritionally-balanced meals are served. Meals are prepared fresh daily, contain one-third of the recommended daily nutritional allowance for adults, and comply with Florida Department of Elder Affairs Guidelines. Attendees also have an opportunity to join in arts and crafts projects, play games, and socialize.

The Pensacola Housing Division is pleased to work with our community partner, Council on Aging of West Florida, Inc. (COA), in administering the funding for this nutritional program on behalf of the City. The City of Pensacola has supported COA’s Senior Dining Sites and Meals-On-Wheels programs since 1974, with an investment of over $2.5 million through Fiscal Year 2017. This investment has provided well over half a million meals to elderly and disabled City residents using the City’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) public service dollars. According to John Clark, COA’s President/CEO, “The funds are used as a match to obtain a significant amount of other federal and state funds for the agency as well.”

The first home-delivered meal program in the United States began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in January 1954. At the request of the Philadelphia Health & Welfare Council, and funded by a grant from the Henrietta Tower Wurtz Foundation, Margaret Toy, a social worker in Philadelphia's Lighthouse Community Center, pioneered a program to provide nourishment that met the dietary needs of homebound seniors and other "shut-ins" who otherwise would have gone hungry. As is the case today, many participants were people who did not require hospitalization, but who simply needed a helping hand in order to maintain their independence. Most of the volunteers in the original program were high school students.

Numerous studies have shown that Meals-on-Wheels programs are effective in improving nutrition among the elderly. And they're cost effective, because allowing older adults to age in place is less expensive than nursing-home care. Programs of these types were envisioned by the Older Americans Act (OAA). Originally enacted in 1965, OAA supports a range of home and community-based services including meals-on-wheels and other nutrition programs, in-home services, transportation, legal services, elder abuse prevention, and caregiver support. These programs help seniors stay as independent as possible in their homes and communities. In addition, OAA services help seniors avoid hospitalization and nursing home care and, as a result, save federal and state funds that would otherwise be spent on such care. A nonfederal match is required for OAA funding.

If you’re 60 or older and interested in joining your neighbors and friends for a meal, the Senior Dining Program sites are:

 Bayview Senior Resource Center  2000 E Lloyd St
 E.S. Cobb Resource Center  601 E Mallory St
 Fricker Resource Center
 900 N F St
 Westminster Retirement Village  1700 N L St
 Gull Point Resource Center  7000 Spanish Trail Rd

For more information, contact COA’s Community Services Director Karen Barbee at