Must-Know Information About Florida's Landlord Tenant Laws
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
An agent must include the lead-based paint disclosure in a lease only if the dwelling was built before Jan. 1, 1978. In filling out the Florida Supreme Court–approved leases for a landlord, an agent does not need to complete the portion of the lease that instructs the user to “check and complete this section if the dwelling was built prior to January 1, 1978.”
- A landlord is required to return a tenant’s deposit within 15 days after the tenant vacates the premises. If a landlord wishes to claim a security deposit, he/she must give written notice of intent within 30 days after the tenant vacates the premises. The landlord must send the notice by certified mail to the tenant’s last known address. There is specific language that must be included in the notice. (Section 83.49, Florida Statutes). Florida Realtors members may download the Notice of Intention to Impose Claim on Security Deposit form from Form Simplicity.
- If a residential tenant damages the property and abandons it, the landlord may claim part of the security deposit for damages within 30 days after the tenant vacates. The landlord may take legal action to get a judgment allowing him/her to use the balance to offset rent lost while seeking a new tenant. Also, the landlord may hold the tenant liable for amounts the landlord couldn’t recover from re-renting the property. (Sections 83.49 and Section 83.595, Florida Statutes)
- When a rental property is sold, upon the sale or transfer of title of rental property, all security deposits or advance rents being held for the benefit of the tenants shall be transferred to the new owner, together with any earned interest and an accurate accounting showing the amounts to be credited to each tenant’s account. There is no need to obtain a tenant's consent before transferring the funds to the new owner. (Section 83.49(7), Florida Statutes)
Nonpayment of rent and eviction
- If a tenant fails to pay rent per the lease, the landlord must give the tenant a three-day notice before the landlord can evict the tenant on this basis. The three-day notice is a requirement of the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act and must contain certain statutory language. Florida Realtors members may download the Termination for Failure to Pay Rent form from Form Simplicity.
- If a landlord adds a provision to a lease that seeks to remove that three-day notice for nonpayment of rent, a court would likely find the added provision unenforceable. (Section 83.56(4), Florida Statutes)
- A tenant is not permitted to stop paying rent if the property is in foreclosure. The tenant who stops paying rent may be given the three-day notice. If the tenant does not pay rent or vacate within three business days after delivery of the notice, the landlord may file for eviction. (Section 83.56(3), Florida Statutes)
- If a residential tenant doesn’t make a timely rent payment, the landlord is not permitted to cut off the tenant’s electricity or garbage collection service or change the locks to prevent the tenant from gaining access to the dwelling. If a landlord attempted to do this, he or she would be liable to the tenant for actual and consequential damages or three months’ rent, whichever is greater, and costs, including attorneys’ fees. (Section 83.67, Florida Statutes)
Writ of Possession
Once a judgment for eviction is granted, a residential landlord obtains a writ of possession, which is executed/delivered by a sheriff. At that time or at a mutually established time thereafter, the landlord or the landlord’s agent may remove any personal property found on the premises to or near the property line. Neither the sheriff nor the landlord or the landlord’s agent shall be liable to the tenant or any other party for the loss, destruction or damage to the property after it has been removed. (Section 83.62(2), Florida Statutes)
- An agent or property manager cannot accept pre-drafted checks from a tenant to deposit into an escrow account over time. An associate must deliver an escrow deposit to his or her broker within one business day. (Rule 61J2-14.009, Florida Administrative Code)
- If an agent is collecting funds on behalf of the landlord, those funds must be deposited into either the landlord’s account or the brokerage’s escrow account, never the brokerage operating account.
- The Florida Supreme Court provided lease forms for only residential property. For commercial leases, each landlord and/or tenant will need to draft a lease specific to the transaction; they may draft the lease themselves, although commercial leases are typically complicated enough to merit the services of a legal professional.
- For residential lease forms, Realtors should limit their involvement to just filling in facts as dictated by the parties as per the Non-Lawyer Disclosure form that accompanies the Florida Supreme Court–approved leases.
- Realtors are not permitted to prepare an addendum to the Supreme Court–approved lease forms on behalf of a landlord or tenant.
- If a landlord and tenant enter into both a contract to lease and a lease agreement, the terms of the lease agreement control, even if they conflict with terms of the contract to lease.
Even for a short-term rental, a landlord or the landlord’s agent must place the security deposit and rent in a separate account until the money is actually due to the landlord, or the landlord must post a surety bond. (Section 83.49, Florida Statutes)
Condominium and homeowners’ association rights
If a property exists in a community with a condominium or homeowners’ association and a landlord is behind on paying association dues, the association may demand that the tenant pay rent to the association rather than the landlord until the past-due obligations have been met or the tenant moves. If the owner believes the association has overstepped its authority, he should consult with his attorney.(Sections 718.116(11)(a) and 720.3085(8)(a), Florida Statutes)
Landlord entering a tenant-occupied property
- Tenants must allow their landlord to enter the dwelling to make repairs or show the unit to prospective buyers, within reason. If the tenant refuses, the landlord should notify the tenants in writing that they must allow access within seven days of receiving the notice. If they don’t, the landlord has the right to terminate the lease and move for an eviction. (Section 83.53, Florida Statutes (Landlord and Tenant))
- For repairs, a landlord must notify the tenant at least 12 hours’ notice before entering the dwelling and must ensure that the repairs are conducted between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Section 83.53(2), Florida Statutes)
Lease cancellation and termination
- If the landlord fails to maintain the property in the condition required by law or material provisions of the lease, the tenant may terminate the lease after providing written notice of the intent to cancel if the landlord does not remedy the situation within seven days. (Section 83.56, (1), Florida Statutes)
- If the landlord is taking all reasonable efforts to correct the issue, but the ability to repair is beyond the landlord’s control (i.e., landlord has ordered the part to fix the damaged item but it won’t arrive for two weeks) and the issue renders the unit untenable, then the parties can agree to allow the tenant to vacate for the time it takes to repair and not charge the tenant rent for that period. Or, if the noncompliance renders the unit only partially untenable, reduce the rent in proportion to the loss of the rental value (i.e., one of the property’s two bathrooms isn’t working, but since the tenant can still stay there, reduce the rent in relation to the loss of the one bathroom).
- There is no automatic right to cancel for executed lease agreements. Once both the landlord and the tenant sign a lease agreement, it’s legally binding, and they must comply with the terms. However, either party may add a cancellation period in the lease before it is signed. (Section 83, Part II, Florida Statutes)
- Service members may choose to terminate their lease if they meet certain criteria, including, but not limited to:
- if they are required to move more than 35 miles away from the rental premises for 60 days or longer
- if they leave the military
- if they move into government quarters
The tenant must provide the landlord 30 days’ written notice, along with a copy of the official military orders or a written verification signed by the service member’s commanding officer. (Section 83.682, Florida Statutes)
- If a tenant buys a home, the tenant does not have the right to terminate a written lease early. Unless there is a provision in the lease giving the tenant such a right, the tenant could be liable to the landlord if he or she terminates the lease early.
- For a month-to-month residential lease, either party may terminate the tenancy by giving at least 15 days’ notice before the end of the next monthly period. A tenant’s lease does not automatically terminate if the landlord sells the dwelling unless the landlord has included a provision to that effect in the lease that would allow the landlord to terminate the lease in that situation. (Section 83.57(3), Florida Statutes)
Notice of noncompliance
If a tenant fails to maintain the property in the condition required by law or violates material provisions of the lease, the landlord can send a seven-day notice of noncompliance. There are two types of notices:
- A notice that gives an opportunity for the tenant to cure or fix the issue. This type of notice may be used, for example, when a tenant has an unauthorized pet on the property, if the tenant removes the animal within seven days, the tenant is able to stay.
- A notice that does not afford the tenant an opportunity to cure or fix the issue and the tenant must leave within seven days. This type of notice may be used, for example, if a tenant had a wild party that resulted in multiple complaints from neighbors, several broken windows and damaged walls. Florida Realtors members may download the Notice from Landlord to Tenant – Notice of Noncompliance for Matters Other than Failure to Pay Rent form from Form Simplicity.
A lease may require a tenant who is not renewing their lease to notify the landlord before vacating the property. That notification period can be no longer than 60 days before the lease’s expiration date. The lease may also state that if the tenant does not provide this notice, the tenant is liable for liquidated damages if no notice is provided. (Section 83.575, Florida Statutes)
Rental payment from out-of-state banks
If a residential landlord lives out of state and wants to accept rental payments in an out-of-state bank with a branch in Florida, we recommend the landlord seek legal advice about whether this violates Florida law. The law states that advance rent and security deposits must be held in a “Florida banking institution,” but doesn’t specify exactly what that means. (Section 83.49(1)(a), Florida Statutes)