Florida Landlord-Tenant Laws

Written by on January 7, 2013

This article summarizes some key Florida Landlord-Tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

We’ve used the Official State Statutes and other online sources cited below to research this information and it should be a good starting point in learning about the law.

With that said, our summary is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice. Laws and statutes are always subject to change, and may even vary from county to county or city to city.

You are responsible for performing your own research and complying with all laws applicable to your unique situation.

If you have legal questions or concerns, we recommend consulting with the appropriate government agencies and/or a qualified lawyer in your area. Your local or state bar association has a referral service that can help you find a lawyer with experience in landlord-tenant law.

This research and information is current as of Sept 1, 2013.

Official Rules and Regulations

Details

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: No Statute (83.49)
  • Security Deposit Interest: Not Required, but allowed.  If interest is being collected, it must be in a Florida banking institution, and tenant receives 75% if earnings (83.49 (1a-b)).  No interest is due to a tenant who wrongfully terminates his or her tenancy prior to the end of the rental term (83.49 (9)).
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: Yes, landlords are not allowed to commingle funds (83.49 (1a-b)).  Landlords are also allowed to post a surety bond (83.49 (1c)).
  • Pet Deposits and Additional Non-refundable Fees: No Statute, but is typically allowed and customary.
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 15 days if full refund, 30 days if withholding any amount (83.49 (3a)).
  • Require Written Description / Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes, and landlord must send notice using exact language found in Florida Statute 83.49 (3a).
  • Receipt of Security Deposit: Required to be given to the Tenant within 30 days. Landlord must identify the manner in which the money is being held, and what the interest rate is, if any. Florida has specific rules pertaining to the receipt notification, read Statute 83.49(2-3) carefully.

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • Rent Increase Notice: No Statute (83.46)
  • When Rent is Due: When agreed upon, at the beginning of each period, and rent is uniformly apportionable from day-to-day (83.46(1)).
  • Late Fees: No Statute (83.46)
  • Returned Check Fees: If payment is returned by a financial institution, landlord can impose a service charge of $25, if the face value does not exceed $50, $30, if the face value exceeds $50 but does not exceed $300, $40, if the face value exceeds $300, or 5 percent of the face amount of the check, whichever is greater (68.065).
  • Prepaid Rent: No Statute (83.46)
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes (83.60). Essential services are defined in Statute 83.51.
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: No Statute
  • Landlord Allow to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Yes (83.4883.55)
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: No, Landlord has no obligation to rerent during a breach of lease by tenant. For specific requirements, read Statute 83.595.

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Yearly Lease: Not less than 60 days prior to the end of any annual period (83.57(1)).
  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Quarter to Quarter: Not less than 30 days prior to the end of any quarterly period (83.57(2)).
  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Month-to-Month: Not less than 15 days prior to the end of any monthly period (83.57(3)).
  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Week-to-week: Not less than 7 days prior to the end of any weekly period (83.57(4)).
  • Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: No Statute
  • Termination of Lease for Nonpayment: 3 days Notice, excluding Saturday, Sunday, and legal holidays.  Specific language must be included in the notice, which is found in Statute 83.56(3).
  • Notice of Eviction for Lease Violation: Tenant has 7 days to remedy the issue or landlord can file for eviction and terminate lease (83.56(2)).
  • Required Notice before Entry: 12 hours, unless otherwise agreed upon (83.53(2)).
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): 12 hours (83.53(2))
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (83.53(2b))
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: Yes (83.53(2d))
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No Statute
  • Lockouts Allowed: No (83.67(1))
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No (83.67(2))
  • Penalty for a Self-Help Eviction: A landlord who performs a self-help eviction shall be liable to the tenant for actual and consequential damages or 3 months’ rent, whichever is greater, and costs, including attorney’s fees. Subsequent or repeated violations that are not contemporaneous with the initial violation shall be subject to separate awards of damages. (83.67(6))
  • Proper Notice for Abandoned Property: Yes, first-class mail, pre-paid postage (715.104), using the specific language found in Statutes 715.105, or 715.106.  Review Statutes 715.104 – 705.111 for specific instructions and requirements for abandoned property.

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Landlords are not allowed to evict tenants without going through the legal process (aka self-help evictions).  Penalty is actual damages to tenant or 3 months rent – whichever is greater (83.67(6)).
  • For buildings over three (3) stories, landlord shall disclose to the tenants initially moving into the building the availability or lack of availability of fire protection (83.50(2)).
  • The landlord shall, at or before the commencement of the tenancy, provide the name and address of the landlord or a person authorized to receive notices and demands in the landlord’s behalf (83.50(2)).
  • Notification shall be provided on at least one document, form, or application executed at the time of, or prior to, contract for sale and purchase of any building or execution of a rental agreement for any building. Such notification shall contain the following language:
    RADON GAS: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that, when it has accumulated in a building in sufficient quantities, may present health risks to persons who are exposed to it over time. Levels of radon that exceed federal and state guidelines have been found in buildings in Florida. Additional information regarding radon and radon testing may be obtained from your county health department.” (404.056(5))
  • Landlord shall not prevent the tenant from displaying a United States Flag (83.67(4)).
  • Landlord is not responsible for personal property left on the premise after death of tenant if the following clause is included in the signed lease agreement:
    “By signing this rental agreement, the tenant agrees that upon surrender, abandonment, or recovery of possession of the dwelling unit due to the death of the last remaining tenant, as provided by Chapter 83, Florida Statutes, the landlord shall not be liable or responsible for storage or disposition of the tenant’s personal property.” (83.67(5))
  • Landlord is not allowed to include clauses in the lease that force either party to waive or forfeit rights, remedies, requirements, or liabilities set forth by law (83.47).
  • It is unlawful for a landlord to discriminatorily increase a tenant’s rent or decrease services to a tenant, or to bring or threaten to bring an action for possession or other civil action, primarily because the landlord is retaliating against the tenant (83.64).
  • Retaliation is considered if action is taken on a tenant who (1) has filed an official complaint to a Government Authority, (2) has organized, encouraged, or participated in a tenants’ organization, (3) has complained to the landlord pursuant to Statute 83.56(1), or (4) is a servicemember who has terminated a rental agreement pursuant to Statute 83.682.

Court Related:

  • Small Claims Court Limits: $5,000 or less, excluding costs, interest, and attorneys’ fees.
  • Eviction Cases Allowed: Yes
  • Small Claims Rules (PDF)

Business Licenses and Fees:

  • Business License Required: No state-wide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements.  Check with your local governing authority.
  • Rentals in Miami need a Residential Real Estate Sign permit (single family homes) or a Commercial Real Estate Sign permit (apartment units). It is a sticker that should be placed on the sign. The permit is $5.00 for a single family home, $15.00 for an apartment unit, and it is valid for one (1) year from purchase. (Miami FAQs)
  • Sales and Use Tax on Rental of Living or Sleeping Accommodations
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428 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Scott D

    I was a tenant (Kiosk) at a local Florida mall, my lease ended June 30th 2014. I have yet to receive my security deposit back. They are not disputing anything, local mall management tells me, corporate office is a mess and I should have it anytime. (This was 2 months ago) Do I need to get an attorney for this ? and what penalties can be assessed against this company.

    Thanks for your help

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Scott,

      Commercial leases are different than residential leases. They might have different rules, but I don’t know much about them. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

      Perhaps someone else in this thread might know more, and will chime in.

  • Ashleigh Smith

    The previous owners said that the bank cant put us out at least 90 days since we have no one to pay our rent to.What should we do?I tried to find out who the new owners are but no such luck.Is this true.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Ashleigh.

      I wouldn’t believe anything the previous owners say. They aren’t the bank and they probably have never been through this before either. They really have no idea.

      If the bank took possession, the public tax record should indicate who the new owner is. Try checking with your local county tax office. Many counties have their records online. Try googling “COUNTY NAME property tax records”.

      If that doesn’t work, a lawyer would know how to track it down for you.

  • Teresa

    I am considering renting to an elderly lady who is 89, my concern is if she becomes ill and can’t pay her rent what are my obligations, or will the court let her stay in my place and not pay rent? I am not by no means heartless just wanting to do what is best for both parties involved. I was also wondering what my liabilities could be?

    Thank You,
    Teresa

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Teresa,

      You’d have to treat her like any other tenant who doesn’t pay rent.

      When a tenant doesn’t pay rent, you must provide them with a “Notice to pay or quit”, where if they don’t pay up in X days (see statutes above), then the lease will be terminated and they have to move out.

      If the tenant doesn’t move out, then you have to file an eviction action in small claims court. After you win the judgement, the court will order the sheriff to remove the tenant by force. You’re not allowed to change the locks or shut off utilities until the sheriff removes the tenant.

      On a federal level, “age” is not a protected class from discrimination, however, it might be at a local level.

      Here are some helpful guides
      http://www.landlordology.com/tenant-eviction/
      http://www.landlordology.com/know-what-is-considered-illegal-discrimination/

  • Joy

    Hi Lucas,

    My daughter owns and lives in her condo in Florida with her 55Lb dog. The assn allows dogs up to 35Lbs and when they questioned her about the dog, she advised them that he is an ESA. She provided a letter from her doctor stating such, however, without going into medical details of a diagnosis. The assn advised that the document is insufficient and they have petitioned the State for Mandatory Non-Binding Arbitration. She received about 40 documents from the State, including pictures of my daughter walking her dog, requiring her to answer within 20 days. She contacted attys who require $1,500-$2,500 retainer; needless to say, she can’t afford these fees.

    My daughter does not feel comfortable and safe in her current living conditions. Do you have any suggestions to assist her, short of moving, with a minimum expense and positive results?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Joy

      I’m sorry your daughter is going through this. Further, to add insult to injury, the association can potentially force your daughter to remove the dog, but your daughter’s lease with the landlord would stay intact.

      A certified service dog would allowed, but an emotional support animal is another story. Personally, I think it’s better for the landlord/association to “play it safe” and allow any animal that comes with a doctor’s note, but it can be a gray line.

      Here’s an excerpt from a article by a friend of mine:
      http://www.rentprep.com/blog/landlord-guide-assistance-animals/

      HUD separates assistance animals into two categories–service animals and support or companion animals. It also sets up two conditions that, if the answers are yes, the landlord must allow the assistance animal.

      Here are the two conditions:
      1. Does the person requesting the animal indeed have a diagnosed disability that that impacts major life activities?
      2. Does the person requesting the animal have a disability-related need for it and will the animal assist, perform tasks or perform services for the disabled person?

      If it’s no to either, you do not have to allow the assistance animal. If it is yes to both, the exceptions must be made in most cases.

      Keep in mind, I’m NOT a lawyer, so please don’t consider this legal advice.

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