REAL ESTATE LAW
Florida Landlord Tenant Law Attorneys Summary
This article will give a brief summary of Florida Landlord Tenant Law for residential property. Florida Statutes §83.40-83.683, govern residential landlord tenant law and are referred to as the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. In Florida, all leases and rental agreements carry an obligation of good faith and fair dealing in the enforcement and performance of the agreement. In the event the court finds that the lease or rental agreement contains any unconscionable provisions at the time the agreement was drafted, as a matter of law, the court can refuse to enforce the agreement either in its entirety or remove the unconscionable provisions.
Florida Landlord Tenant Law Landlord Disclosure Requirements to Tenants
Florida law requires that a landlord must provide certain disclosures to tenants. Here are some examples of what a Landlord must disclose to tenants:
- The identity of a person authorized to act on behalf of the landlord and information where the tenant’s security deposit will be held.
- The landlord’s address or the address of the person authorized to act on the landlord’s behalf.
- Any permitted non-refundable fees in the lease or rental contract, such as a non-refundable pet deposit.
- The tenant’s right to make a record of damages in the rental property prior to moving in.
- This is also called a move-in checklist and many times the landlord will have a template copy that is either given to the tenant to fill out or may already have been filled out by the landlord prior to tenants moving in.
- The right of the tenant to be present at the final inspection after moving out of the rental.
- For shared rental property, if there is a shared utility arrangement where the tenants share is based on percentage of occupancy of the rental property.
- Any specific information related to the installation or maintenance of alarms and/or smoke detectors.
- The presence of any health and environmental hazards, such as bedbugs, mold, radon and lead based paint disclosure.
- Whether the rental property is subject to flooding or is in a flood zone.
- If the rental property is: (1) planned for a condominium conversion; (2) intent to demolish; (3) in current foreclosure proceedings.
- If the rental property has: (1) condemnation orders; (2) housing code violations; (3) remaining building inspection.
Florida Landlord Tenant Law Lease and Rental Agreement Provisions that are Prohibited
Any provision in a lease or rental agreement is unenforceable and void as a matter of law if it:
- Intends to waive or exclude the requirements, rights and/or remedies as set forth in Florida Statutes §83.40-83.683.
- Intends to limit or eliminate any and all liability of the landlord to the tenant or the tenant to the landlord, which arise under law.
Florida Landlord Tenant Law Security Deposit Limits
The majority of residential leases require a security deposit which is around the same price as the one month cost of the rental property. Although, Florida does not impose a statutory limit on what a landlord charges for a security deposit. There is however a limit on when a security deposit must be returned.
If the landlord is not going to impose a claim for damages to withhold any part of the security deposit, the landlord must return the security deposit within 15 days of when the tenant vacated the rental property at the termination of the lease. If the landlord does intend to impose a claim for damages on the security deposit, the tenant shall be given 30 days written notice sent by certified mail listing the reasons for the imposition of the claim. The tenant, upon receipt of the claim, has 15 days to file a written objection to the landlord’s claim. If the tenant fails to send the requisite timely objection, the landlord is authorized to deduct the amount claimed.
If the landlord requests a security deposit, the lease or rental agreement must contain the language found in Florida Statutes §83.49(3).
In the event that the tenant failed to clean the rental property and/or remove any trash, the landlord may impose a claim on the security deposit for cleaning the premises. Tenants, when moving out, are generally required to leave the rental property in similar condition as when they moved in. Most leases and rental agreements contain a “Move-Out Provision.”
Furthermore, there is no statutory requirement that a security deposit account must be interest bearing. Generally, if the account is an interest-bearing account, the interest payments are distributed to the tenant at the end of the tenancy provided that the tenant does not wrongfully terminate the lease or rental agreement.
If a dispute should arise where the tenant is seeking the return of the security deposit, suit may be brought by the tenant in small claims court as long as the deposit amount is less than $5,000.
If a lease or rental agreement is renewed, the agreement is considered a new agreement and the previous security deposit is transferred to the new agreement and is regarded as a new security deposit.
Florida Landlord Tenant Law Landlord’s Duty to Maintain the Rental Property
The landlord during the entirety of the tenancy must:
- Abide by all required building, housing and health codes.
- Maintain doors, exterior walls, floors, foundations, porches, steps, roofs, windows and any other structural elements in good repair and capable of withstanding normal weather/environmental conditions.
- Keep the plumbing in reasonable working state.
- Must install screens in a reasonable condition at the beginning of a tenancy and any subsequent damages to the screens must be repaired when required until the rental agreement has terminated.
A mobile home or another tenant owned structure, carries no maintenance requirement for the landlord.
In addition to the aforementioned maintenance requirements, or otherwise agreed in writing and with exception to a duplex or a single-family home, the landlord during the entirety of the tenancy shall provide necessary and reasonable requirements for:
- Pest control for the extermination of ants, bedbugs, mice, rats, roaches and termites. If extermination treatment requires the tenant to vacate the rental property, the landlord must abate the rent. Tenant is required to vacate the premises for a maximum of 4 days, with a prior written 7-day notice for extermination treatment of the rental property.
- Keys and locks.
- Maintenance of clean and safe conditions of the common areas.
- Removal of garbage.
- Air conditioning, heat, running water and hot water.
Florida Landlord Tenant Law Tenant’s Duty to Maintain the Rental Property
Tenants occupying rental property must:
- Abide by all of the obligations made upon tenants by governing requirements such as building, health and housing codes.
- Maintain occupied premises in a clean and sanitary condition, garbage removal, sanitary plumbing.
- Handle all electrical, heating/air conditioning, ventilation, plumbing and all other appliances that are part of the rental in a reasonable manner.
- Not damage, destroy, harm or remove any part of the rental property or any contents in the rental property belonging to landlord.
- Conduct themselves and any of tenant’s guests in a reasonable manner so as not to disturb the tenant’s neighbors or constitute a breach of the peace.
Florida Landlord Tenant Law Termination of Rent for Nonpayment
In Florida, a landlord must give a 3-day notice to a tenant who is delinquent on rent prior to being able to file for eviction.
Florida Landlord Tenant Law Tenant Rights for Withhold Rent
Florida law allows for tenants to withhold rent but only in certain circumstances. All lease/rental agreements must provide a warranty of habitability. Moreover, a landlord shall not rent property that is structurally deficient, health and/or safety hazard. In the event that a landlord does not make repairs on such things as a leaky roof, broken air conditioner/heater or plumbing, tenants may withhold rent until such repairs are made.
Furthermore, tenants must give the landlord notice which complies with statutory requirements, prior to withholding rent and/or vacating in the event that the landlord fails to make the necessary repairs. Additionally, there may be cases where rather than rent being withheld, rent is paid into an escrow account.
Florida Landlord Tenant Law Landlord’s Eviction and Termination Rules
Florida has specific provisions on how and when a landlord may properly terminate a tenancy. One particular situation where a landlord can order a tenant to vacate the rental property on short notice is an Unconditional Quit Termination. The Unconditional Quit Termination is triggered by: (1) a tenant’s intentional destruction of the subject rental property or other tenant’s property; (2) unreasonable disturbances to other tenants; (3) continued noncompliance after a written warning from landlord within 12 months of a similar occurrence.
The most common reasons for termination of a tenancy is due to tenant’s failure to pay rent and/or violating a lease clause. In some cases where a tenant is in violation of a clause in the lease, the landlord is required to give the tenant a certain amount of time to cure the violation. If the tenant fails to cure the violation within the allotted time, the landlord can file for eviction.
Florida Landlord Tenant Law Landlord’s Right of Entry to Rental Property
Florida law states that if the landlord wants to gain entry into the rental property, at least a 12-hour notice must be provided and the entry must occur during a reasonable time. However, a landlord may enter the rental property at any time in order to protect or preserve the property.
Certain circumstances allow the landlord entry to the rental property including:
- If the tenant gives permission or from a provision in the lease or rental agreement.
- If an emergency exists, such as smoke, fire, open or broken windows and an open or broken front door.
- The performance of regularly scheduled maintenance duties, with advanced notice given.
- Showing the rental property to prospective tenants or buyers if the tenant has given notice to vacate the premises or the lease is set to expire. Even with the express permission of the tenant, the landlord does not have the right to put up a lockbox as this would entirely bypass Florida law regarding a tenant’s privacy rights.
- If the landlord reasonably believes that the tenant has abandoned the property, or the tenant has left the rental property for an extended period of time such as several weeks.
- In the event the tenant unreasonably withholds consent.
Tenants may object to an entry if the landlord has made excessive entries during the lease term or has behaved in a harassing manner. However, opposing a legitimate entry such as for repairs or maintenance may have more severe circumstances such as an eviction, 30-day notice to terminate the lease or a nonrenewal at the end of the lease term.
Florida Landlord Tenant Law Tenants Right to Terminate Rental Agreement
In the event that landlord materially fails to abide by the aforementioned landlord’s duties and/or the material provisions of the lease or rental agreement, within 7 days of tenants written notice of landlord’s noncompliance, tenant may terminate the lease or rental agreement. Florida Statutes §83.51(1) governs the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the premises.
In the event that landlord fails to comply with Florida Statute §83.51(1) and/or meet the material provisions of the lease or rental agreement is outside landlord’s control and the landlord has made and is persistently continuing to make every reasonable effort to fix the compliance issues, the lease may either be modified or terminated by the parties.
Termination or modification of the lease or rental agreement can occur as follows:
- If the landlord’s failure to comply with Florida Statute §83.51(1) or meet the material provisions of the lease or rental agreement makes the premises untenantable, causing the tenant to vacate, the tenant will not be required to pay rent until the rental property is made habitable.
- If the landlord’s failure to comply with Florida Statute §83.51(1) or meet the material provisions of the lease or rental agreement makes the premises untenantable, and the tenant remain on the property, during the time of non-compliance, the rent shall be reduced by a proportionate amount of the loss of rental value as a result of the non-compliance.
Florida Landlord Tenant Law Tenant Protection Against Retaliatory Eviction Actions
In Florida, a landlord is prohibited from discriminatory conduct against a tenant as retaliatory conduct against the tenant. In order for the tenant to be able to use the defense of retaliatory conduct if an action for possession is brought against the tenant, it is essential the tenant acted in good faith.
Retaliatory eviction actions by the landlord typically occur when a tenant:
- Complains to the landlord about a condition in the rental property that is not in accordance with the lease and/or has made the property uninhabitable.
- Tenant makes a complaint to a local or government agency such as building/housing enforcement, health code violation or federal fair housing laws.
- Tenant creates, organizes or takes part in tenant organization.
- Tenant has terminated the rental agreement due to being a military service member.
- Tenant has paid rent to a homeowner’s or a condominium association due to a demand by the association to satisfy the landlord’s obligation.
Some examples of a landlord’s retaliatory actions include minor forms of harassment, sudden rent increases, changing the locks or make the threat of an eviction without merit. Moreover, Prohibited Practices by the landlord are governed by Florida Statute §83.67 and are covered in more detail below.
Fortunately, retaliatory eviction actions are illegal in Florida and most other states as well.
Florida Landlord Tenant Law Rental Agreement Termination Due to Foreclosure
If the residential rental property occupied by tenant are exposed to a foreclosure sale, the named purchaser in the certificate of title, acquires title to the residential rental property subject to the following tenant rights:
- Tenant may continue to occupy the premises for 30 days subsequent to the date of purchaser’s written 30-day notice of termination to tenant.
- Tenant is protected by the Prohibited Practices section of Florida Statute §83.67.
Florida Landlord Tenant Law Tenants Protection Against Prohibited Practices
Tenants occupying rental property are entitled to protection against Prohibited Practices in accordance with Florida Statute §83.67 and are listed as follows:
- Landlord of residential rental property, will not impede, either directly or indirectly, the disruption or termination of any utility service that has been provided to the tenant such as heat, air-conditioning, electricity, water, gas or garbage pickup, regardless of whether such service is controlled and/or paid for by the landlord.
- Landlord of residential rental property, may not restrict the tenant by any means from getting reasonable access to the rental property, such as changing the locks or using device or mechanism that would restrict access to the premises.
- Landlord of residential rental property, will not prohibit the tenant from showing a United States flag which may be removable, cloth or plastic and within the dimensions of 4.5 feet by 6 feet, provided that the flag is displayed in a respectful manner.
- Landlord of residential rental property, will not remove any outside doors, walls, windows, locks or roof other than for maintenance and/or repair.
- Landlord of residential rental property, will not remove tenant’s personal property from the rented premises, unless removal occurs after: (1) tenant has surrendered premises; (2) tenant has abandoned premises; (3) tenant has died; or (4) as a result of a lawful eviction.
Florida Landlord Tenant Law Tenancy Termination Without Specified Duration
A tenancy of residential real property without a specified duration can be terminated by either party with written notice in accord with the following:
- A year to year tenancy requires a minimum of 60 day’s notice, prior to the conclusion of the year period.
- A quarter to quarter tenancy requires a minimum of 30-day notice prior to the end of the quarterly duration.
- A month to month tenancy requires a minimum of 15 days’ notice before the end of any monthly duration.
- A week to week tenancy requires a minimum of 7 days’ notice before the end of a weekly duration.
Florida Landlord Tenant Law Tenancy Termination with Specified Duration
A lease or rental agreement for a specified term, may contain a requirement for the tenant to provide notice to the landlord within a certain time frame prior to vacating the premises at the conclusion of the agreement in the event that the lease will not be renewed. Moreover, a lease or rental agreement notice requirement may not be in excess of 60 days’ notice.
A lease or rental agreement for a specified term, may stipulate that in the event that a tenant fails to give landlord the requisite notice prior to vacating the rental property at the end of the lease, the tenant will be liable to landlord for liquidated damages which will be specified in the lease or rental agreement. The landlord must give the tenant written notice within 15 days before the commencement of the notification period included in the lease and will contain all fees, penalties and/or other charges.
What is a Holdover Tenant Under Florida Landlord Tenant Law ?
If the tenant remains in possession of the rental property after the lease or rental agreement has expired, without the landlord’s permission, the tenant is deemed a holdover tenant. With the proper 15-day notice to tenant, the landlord can collect double rent for the period that tenant remains on the premises subsequent to the expiration of the lease.
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