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Landlord and Tenant Act’s Changes and Amendments

One section addresses “termination of a tenancy without a specific term.” What does that mean and when does it apply? Another amendment affects annual leases with a specific duration. What changed there and how does it work now?

ORLANDO, Fla. – Different sections of Part II of Chapter 83 Florida Statutes, otherwise known as the “Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act,” (the Act) were modified and some new ones were created. This article covers two amended sections and lays out the changes.

Termination without a specific term

Section 83.57 of the Act addresses termination of a tenancy without a specific term. What is a tenancy without a specific term? There are two definitions, but for the purposes of this article we will deal with only 83.46(2), which states:

“If the rental agreement contains no provision as to duration of the tenancy, the duration is determined by the periods for which the rent is payable. If the rent is payable weekly, then the tenancy is from week to week; if payable monthly, tenancy is from month to month; if payable quarterly, tenancy is from quarter to quarter; if payable yearly, tenancy is from year to year.”

So this section addresses ways to terminate a lease where there isn’t a defined timeframe within the rental agreement itself – it’s calculated based on when rent is payable, i.e. weekly, monthly, etc. Note: If you have an annual lease with a defined start and end date, this section does not apply to your lease.

A primary example: Sometimes parties with an annual lease included a specific date when the lease would end – but as that date near, the tenants want to stay a bit longer. The two parties then agree to continue the rental with the same terms, but with duration changes based on when rent is paid, i.e. monthly – most commonly known as a “month-to-month tenancy.”

The change to Section 83.57 extends the time of notice a party is to receive by the other in order to properly terminate the tenancy without a specific term. If a landlord wants to terminate a lease under a month-to-month tenancy, for example, they must now give more notice than they did before:

  • Previously, the law allowed for a party – either the landlord or tenant – to give not less than 15 days’ notice prior to the end of the monthly period to terminate a month-to-month tenancy.
  • Now, however, the party giving notice must provide not less than 30 days’ notice prior to the end of any monthly period. Therefore, if I want to terminate the month-to-month tenancy I have with my tenant, I have to give no less than 30 days’ notice before the end of the monthly period.

Keep in mind that this is based on when rent is payable, which may not be on the 1st of every month. If, for example, my tenant’s rent is due on the 15th of every month, I, as the landlord, have to give not less than 30 days’ prior to the end of that monthly period. So effectively, I would need to give notice at the latest by the 14th of the previous month to meet this deadline.

Termination with a specific term

Another amended section of the Act addresses termination with a specific duration. Here we’re talking about that annual lease with a defined start and end date.

Section 83.575 now provides that if a rental agreement with a specific duration requires a tenant or landlord to notify the other within a specified period that they are vacating (in the case of the tenant) or not renewing the lease (in the case of the landlord), that time period cannot be less than 30 days’ notice or more than 60 days’ notice.

So back to my example: If I have an annual lease with my tenant and that lease requires me to tell the tenant that I am not renewing the lease, I cannot have a lease provision that says I can just tell the tenant that 5 days ahead of time. I also couldn’t require the tenant to tell me, as the landlord, that they’re leaving at the end of the lease 100 days in advance. Both those time frames are outside the parameters of the law.

I could, however, have a 45-day notice period, as that complies with 83.575. Note that currently the two Florida Supreme Court-approved leases available via Form Simplicity do not contain language that covers this type of notice.

A common question called into Florida Realtors Legal Hotline is how to calculate these days. Unless the law specifically excludes weekends or holidays, each day on the calendar is a day. Nothing under these two sections of the Act excludes certain days, so:

  • 30 days under 83.57 is 30 calendar days
  • 60 days under 83.575 is 60 calendar days

It is important to note these changes, especially if you’re handling property management for landlords. Failure to note timeframes and deadlines could result in a judge saying your termination was improper, and that can lead to all sorts of potential issues.

Remember that much of the landlord/tenant relationship involves communication. Making sure you have safeguards in place to adequately comply with the required legal notifications will help you serve your landlord and tenants better!

Meredith Caruso is Associate General Counsel for Florida Realtors
Note: Information deemed accurate on date of publication

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