Florida Landlord Tenant Law in a Nutshell
Mon Feb 15 2021
When you lease out your Florida home, condo, or mobile home, you become a landlord – and that means you have obligations to your tenants that are enforced by Florida law.
In fact, you don’t even need a written lease to be subject to Florida’s rental laws. Under these laws, both tenants and landlords have rights and responsibilities. Landlords can be fined or penalized if they don’t comply, and tenants can face evictions for violations.
Florida landlord-tenant law is outlined in the Florida Statutes, Part II, Chapter 83 – part of the Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act. Here’s what you should know about it.
The Rules of the Lease
A lease is an agreement between you, the landlord, and your tenant. Leases are usually written (and should be!), but oral lease agreements can also be legally binding, according to the Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act.
Essentially, a lease dictates the terms and conditions promised by both parties. Written leases may have specific terms and conditions, but they can’t be unreasonable compared to the rules established in the act. The Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act prevails over lease terms and conditions when clauses are called into question.
Required Notice to Terminate a Lease
Either the landlord or tenant may terminate a lease with notice. The amount of notice to terminate a lease depends on the terms. Under Florida law, these are the minimum amount of notice required:
- Weekly lease: 7 days.
- Monthly lease: 15 days.
- Quarterly lease: 30 days.
- Yearly lease: 60 days.
Notice is required even if the lease is an oral agreement. Either party can terminate a lease with appropriate notice without reason.
Tenant Rights According to Florida Rental Laws
At the very core, the Florida landlord tenant law is meant to ensure that landlords provide a private, safe, and secure place for tenants to live in exchange for rent. This means that the dwelling needs to have proper door locks and latches and be free from building code safety violations.
Under this law, Florida tenants:
- Have a right to a private, peaceful dwelling.
- Can utilize the property in a lawful way once the lease is signed and rent is paid.
- Must be notified in writing of a lease violation and given adequate time to remedy the problem.
- May withhold rent under certain egregious circumstances so long as they give seven days’ written notice.
- Have the right to move out with proper written notice, which may be up to 60 days before the end of the lease.
If a tenant takes a landlord to court, the losing party may be responsible for the legal fees of the winning party. Landlords are not obligated to provide insurance for tenants, but it’s a good idea to have a landlord insurance policy that protects your investment and your liability.
Landlord Responsibilities According to the Florida Landlord Tenant Law
Landlords have certain responsibilities to ensure that the tenants’ rights are respected. Those responsibilities are:
- To provide at least 12 hours of notice before entering the property to inspect it or make agreed upon repairs; notice can be shortened or waived in emergency situations.
- To provide a dwelling that has working plumbing, hot water, and heating.
- To ensure the dwelling is structurally sound with working (and locking) doors and windows.
- To ensure the property is free of pests.
- To provide written notice of lease violations with adequate time to fix the problem.
- To preserve the security deposit and return it within 15 days after the tenant leaves. You must provide written notice if it’s not all returned within 30 days.
Tenant Responsibilities and Violations That Can Lead to Eviction
At some point, you may need to evict a tenant (though the right screening process may help prevent that. Check out these 15 landlord tips for more pointers!). When a tenant violates the lease, they may be subject to eviction proceedings as long as the landlord gave written notice of the violation and allowed for reasonable time to fix the problem. That includes issues with rent payments.
These are some violations that may warrant eviction under the law:
- Failing to pay rent on time or in full. A tenant could face eviction even if they paid part of the rent. Rent must be paid by the agreed-upon date and time to be considered paid in full.
- Failing to comply with state building, housing, and health codes. This means the tenant can’t cause the condition of the dwelling to deteriorate, e.g., causing fire hazards or letting the place become infested. Tenants are required to keep the property clean and maintain the plumbing. Tenants must also abide by state and federal laws – that means no illegal activities.
- Damaging the property or disturbing the peace. While wear and tear is expected, the tenant is not allowed to damage the property. And just as the tenant has the right to a peaceful place to live, the neighbors are also entitled to their peace, too. Tenants must not disturb the peace or host guests that do.
Curable vs. Incurable Lease Violations
There are two types of lease violations that affect how much notice the landlord gives for potential eviction: curable and incurable lease violations.
- Curable lease violations: These can usually be remedied with seven days’ notice. For example, cleaning trash from the yard or paying the rent on time might fit into this category. If the tenant fixes the violation, they may not be out of the woods entirely. If the same or similar violation happens again within a 12-month period, it may elevate the violation from curable to incurable.
- Incurable lease violations: These violations either can’t be fixed or have happened several times within the year. An example of an incurable lease violation might be a tenant conducting illegal activity on the property.
The Eviction Process
Landlords must follow the Florida eviction process to regain control of their property. Notably, landlords can’t evict tenants who report legitimate complaints about the safety and security of the property.
The eviction process always starts with written notice to the tenant. The notice must describe the lease violations in detail and give the tenant enough time to fix the situation. For example, say you have a no-pet policy, but your tenant gets a dog. If you don’t want to make an exception, you’d have to provide a written letter to the tenant describing the lease term that prohibits pets and give the tenant enough time to find a loving home for the pup.
If the tenant doesn’t comply with the written notice, the next step is to file for eviction with the court. Filing doesn’t mean a court order will be granted. After filing, you’ll be given a court date, and the tenant is entitled to notice of that date so they can be present and defend themselves. If the judge sides with the landlord, they grant a court order with the day and time of eviction.
Only then can a landlord resecure their property. Prior to getting a court order, the landlord has no right to interfere with a tenant’s use of the property. That means no shutting off utilities, preventing access, or confiscating belongings.
Information to Include in an Eviction Notice
According to Florida law, an eviction notice must be in writing. For the document to be useful in eviction proceedings, it should include the following information:
- Date the notice was given to the tenant.
- Tenant names.
- Property address.
- A description of the lease violation.
- An ultimatum stating that legal action is imminent if the tenant doesn’t remedy the situation.
- A statement of how the notice was given to the tenant (e.g., in person or via mail).
Landlords can personally hand an eviction notice to tenants, mail the notice to tenants, or leave the notice in a conspicuous place on the property for the tenant to find (e.g., taped to the front door).
Landlords: Know the Rules
Adhering to the Florida landlord / tenant law is not only legally necessary – it also helps protect your property and your reputation. Another way to protect your property is to make sure you have the right property insurance. Get a quote for landlord insurance today!
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