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, 2011.

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
Topics:
  Laws & Regulations
Automate
Your Rental
Properties

326 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Jennifer Senn

    My husband and I have a property in Florida that we have rented through a Property Management company for the last two and a half years. We don’t feel as though the Property Management company has really represented our properly fairly. We have have had 3 lease agreements in this period of time and have had a challenge with all 3 leases. Each time we have been told that we basically would have to prove tenant negligence in order to have grounds to stand on. Our first tenants broke the lease (military) by providing relocation papers. Because of our ties to the community we found out that this families papers were changed before they broke the lease and they purchased land just down the road from our property. The management company advised that there isn’t anything that we can do about it now and it wouldn’t really be worth our time unless it was thousands of dollars we suffered as a loss. We were able to quickly turn over the property in a 30-45 day window, but lost a month (+) in rental income. This property is not a profit for us by any means, we actually have to come out of pocket monthly for this property. In addition to that, the platform in which the A/C unit in the home is held – the whole platform was covered in mildew and mold. We were NOT notified of this, only the A/C unit repairs that we quickly addressed as soon as we were advised. Is that true, we couldn’t do or get anything? We were told it was our responsibility to repair the mold damage – they were negligent in allowing it to get this disgusting! Our second tenants managed to start a roach infestation throughout the whole house, when we were paying for the regular bug maintenance. This cleaning did come out of their deposit. However the sliding glass door lock was broken and in working order when we began to rent the home. We again were advised that doors were our responsibility. Their pet damaged the carpet at the doorway of our front left bedroom, but again nothing we can do. “Normal wear and tear.” The third was the icing on the cake. They painted two of our bedrooms, not neutral colors without permission, used a flat white paint to touch up when we left them with white SEMI gloss paint for this purpose and installed shelves again without permission. The shelves are clearly stated in the contract that they must receive approval before installing – they did not. Their animal also damaged the already affected area much more greatly. To the degree the family contacted the property management company. The property management company advised them to cut out the carpet from our Master bathroom closet and cut out the area and fill in with this carpet. So now the bedroom has a large square of this carpet to repair the damage, but ruining the integrity of the carpet as a whole piece. They completely replaced the carpet in the master bath closet. The Property Management company advised us that because the carpet is from 2006, it wasn’t worth anything any way. I inquired about the paint and was told because they did a good job painting that I wouldn’t get anything and I would have to pay to have it painted. The shelves could be removed, but I would have to repair the walls. The dishwasher had a layer of mold across the top portion and the area in which the soap is dispensed has discolored greatly, our responsibility. Our front porch way has a light just in front of the doorway as most do and the cover is completely gone. Take a guess who is responsible for replacing that? Yes, us. The backyard was covered with large holes from their dog of which they filled with mulch and according to the Property Management company, this is acceptable. Finally, the property was not cleaned nor was the yard maintained. So we have to have a cleaning company and yard company come out to the property to restore the property. The tenants had the electric and the water terminated on the 31st, just 2 days before I was even notified that the property was not in the condition per the lease when vacating the property. We had to pay to restore the utilities to have the services performed. We again were advised this would be at our expense. Just feeling a little lost as to what the purpose of a lease agreement is for, if NOTHING is at their expense! The lease clearly states that the property must be in the same condition in which it was upon their arrival. Just wondering if maybe it is time to look at our Property Management company’s management skills and possibly hold them liable for these charges. Any advise would be appreciated! Thank you!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jennifer,

      It’s really great to meet you. I can honestly say that you get the gold medal for longest comment ever written on the site :)

      You probably already know this but I’m not a lawyer, so my opinion is completely non-legal.

      Generally speaking, property managers are supposed to inspect the premise every so often so that issues don’t arise – such as mold around the AC. However, most PM contracts don’t including a specific requirement for them to do so (on purpose), so many just skip the visits, or only do drive-bys. You’d have to check your contract with the PM to see if they were in breach of contract for not catching the mold as it was happening.

      Also, PMs usually are contractually obligated to go to court with you if you choose to sue a tenant (or visa versa). Court can cause quite a bit of paperwork and be very time consuming for the PM, so of course he is going to suggest that you shouldn’t bother with it. It was foolish for the PM to tell you that you wouldn’t win, because he’s not a lawyer, nor can he give legal advice.

      Based on your story, it sounds like the PM is taking liberties with you that he shouldn’t.

      His comment about “doors” being the responsibility of the landlord is true, unless the damage was caused by a tenant and beyond normal wear and tear. If I were you, I would have forced the tenant’s to pay for the dog damage to the carpet. Pet damage is NEVER normal wear and tear and it’s foolish to say otherwise. Also, using a different color, or sheen, of paint is never okay, especially if special instructions were okay.

      Tenants don’t get points for trying to make repairs. They only get points for successfully completing them. I’ve had many tenants try to clean a shower, but fail to do so adequately, and therefore I’ve hired a professional maid at their expense. Same goes for painting and carpet repair. Inexperienced tenants (and PMs) will often cause more damage trying to fix it themselves than if they just sought the help of the landlord. They clearly didn’t help the carpet by cutting a square out of it, and even though it may have been from 2006 and though it didn’t have any monetary value, it might have had a few more years left if they didn’t slice it up.

      From one landlord to the other, my NON-LEGAL advice to you is to hold the tenants to the contract. Stop taking advice from the PM (who is clearly not protecting your interests nor property), and just follow what is written in the contract. If it says that the property must be in the same condition minus normal wear and tear, then charge the tenants for everything you have to do to get it back to that condition. If they didn’t do an adequate job cleaning, painting, patching, etc, then just withhold the money from the deposit to make those repairs. If things are missing (such as the light fixture dome), buy another one and charge it to them. THIS IS WHAT A DEPOSIT IT FOR!

      If you don’t have a deposit, then you would have to send them a bill, and subsequently take them to small claims court to get the money. If the PM holds the deposit, then it’s time to fire the PM. The lease is between a landlord and a tenant. A PM should only transfer funds, not hold them. Personally, I wouldn’t bother suing the PM. They didn’t cause the damage, rather, they just gave advice. The tenants caused the damage, and no one forced them to listen to the PM.

      When withholding the deposit, make sure you itemize all the damages, and show receipts for your damages. Take plenty of pictures, if it’s not too late.

      When you get sick of using a property manager, try managing the property yourself. I’ve managed 5 properties by myself for about 10 years, while working a different full time job. It doesn’t have to be hard or stressful, and the tips and guides on this website will teach you how. You can use Cozy to handle the more technical stuff, like collecting applications, rent payments, and screening tenants. That’s what I do, and allows all my properties to make a profit, that otherwise would be eaten up by PMs

      A great property manager is worth his weight in gold. The problem is that there are so few really good ones. Good luck, I hope this helps you.

      • Romeo Cayangyang

        I agreed 100% with Lucas. I can’t add anything except what kind of contract do you have with the PM? Can you be released from the management company? How much are they charging you. It is true that PM can really eat your cash flow. You can really manage your property yourself. I was in the military when I started managing my own property and it went very well. This website can really open your eyes and learn a lot as to what action you need to take to be a successful landlord. Good luck!

  • Lyn

    My tenant always been late on rent.Now she telling she is sick .Is that. reason for non payment ? Im the landlord ,i just had a surgery to remove a lung cancer .I live in a mobile home prk and we pay for rent lot .If i what to evict them as i know they wont have the full amount .How much can i ask on the 3 days notice to cover expenses .they have 1 month security
    Thank you for ur help

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Lyn

      Sickness doesn’t override a rental contract. However, it does cause a landlord to feel sympathy.

      If they fail to pay rent, and you want them to leave, you must give them a 3 day notice to vacate or pay in full. If they don’t, then you can formally terminate the lease and then file an eviction case with the local courts.

      Once you terminate the lease, DO NOT accept any rent from them unless you want to continue on a month-to-month lease.

      You can keep part or all of the security deposit to cover any unpaid rent or expenses you incur to evict them.

      I hope that helps. Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t consider this legal advice. A local attorney would be able to guide you better than I.

    • Cassie

      Fair warning. I was a landlord without a property manager. My very first tenant played a scam. Paid the first few months of rent. Then was a few days late and very nicely apologized saying he was having problems.. Then was very late and pleaded with me to allow a delay in rent. It became obvious he was stopping rent payment. I hired a property manager and we took him to court. The man stayed until the weekend the sheriff was due to arrive. The security deposit coverage was long used up. As he was a contractor selling RV’s out of a lot there was no way to garnish wages. It took an extra month because the court apparently screwed up and we were not on the first list or whatever (my property manager said, who was representing me). Yes, I had a fee to pay an attorney as well. The Property Manager has been hard nosed since, business is no place for sympathy, along with good screening of tenants, and a very strong lease, but this is still not fool proof. My last tenant broke the lease and left early and is way out of the area. He did pay last month’s rent, but left damage which means probably replacing the carpet. I had to pay to clean, walls bad and had to repaint the whole place. We’ll probably never see a dime no matter what is done. Collections are rare to collect. Having left the county and went back to Miami, he is long gone.

      • Lucas Hall

        Cassie,

        Thanks for the comment. You are right. Nothing is foolproof. At the end of the day, my best tactic is to use a rock solid lease, and stick too it. As soon as trouble starts to arise, I send a notice to remedy or quit, and then file eviction papers as soon as possible if they don’t leave.

        With any luck, all this happens within 30 days and my deposit will cover the rent loses. Luckily, I’ve been able to pick quality tenants, and this hasn’t been an issue.

  • Vicky

    Hi and thank you in advance for your response.

    I will be renting a town home in Florida this September. I am wondering if I paint the place, would I have to paint it back to white, which is what they paint it before new tenants move in. I am speaking of light colors. Nothing harsh. I heard that some places can charge you if you do not paint it back to the original white. Is this true? If so, what would be a reasonable fee they would be able to charge a person? Btw, these are Income guideline apartments, if that makes a difference.

    Thank you

    Vicky

    • Cassie

      I let tenants paint. They did the labor and I paid for the paint. Big, big mistake on my part. After they moved out I discovered paint on the carpet along the edges by the wall. The walls had swirls and over-paint making it a messy paint job. Everyone thinks they will do a wonderful job, but only a professional should paint.

      A professional painter charged lots of money to first sand the walls before re-painting correctly. The carpet is ruined, that is damages. If the paint looks like it needs painting, ask the landlord to paint professionally. I am now billing the tenant for the repaint I had to do because they did a lousy job.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Vicky,

      That question should be asked to your landlord. It all depends on what your lease says, and what the landlord will allow.

      My personal opinion is that if my tenant asked to put a fresh coat of paint, in a nice neutral color, I wouldn’t say no, nor would I ask the tenant to paint it back. But, at the end of the day, you have to abide by your landlord’s rules. If you don’t, the “fee” to paint it back could be the cost of hiring a painter and materials. Often times, this is $200+ per room.

  • Sc

    hi

    i have a question . my lease is only 6 months old , my husband left me and i cant afford to pay my rent anymore im moving out by the end of the month, my lanlord said tehy are taking me to court, i want to know how long the eviction process takes, i want to leave before the end of the month i live in florida.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi SC,

      I’m sorry you are going through this. Rest assured, it may be rough now, but it WILL get easier.

      The eviction process exists in order to remove tenants from a property who refuse to leave. It’s best to leave prior to court date, in hopes to avoid any sort of judgement against you. If a court date is schedule, you’ll get served with papers, informing you of the date. It’s hard to say how long cases take – because it just depends on how many the court is trying to process. In my experience (not in Florida), it can take 2-8 weeks.

      It might be a good idea to call the local courthouse, and just ask them.

  • Cassie

    My tenant broke the lease and owes over $4,000 for damages, break lease fee, rent and such that is above the security deposit. The tenant left Brevard county and moved back to Miami far away. He and his wife jointly have a Miami house per property tax records, and rental income from that, plus I assume bank accounts. It seems a lien could be placed on those. He ignored the demand letter from my property manager. He instead had his prior employer email my property manager and ask to be forgiven the amount he owes as he lost his job and his wife is sick. They are in their 70′s. My property manager replied and told him we cannot talk with him without notorized approval from the prior tenant. We never heard back.

    My property manager normally uses a collection company but has had little luck collecting for others. I’ve asked her for referral to an attorney as lots of money is owed me, and she passed me a name.

    What is the difference between the two types of collections processes? Am I better off with one over the other? Do I use a collections company first, and if no success, then use an attorney? Is there an amount of money where going to an attorney right away is the right move?

    • Cassie

      I should add I live out of state, so I am doing all this “long distance”.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Cassie,

      I’m not a huge fan of going straight to a collections agency. In fact, I feel that no one should be able to damage another person’s credit without first going to court and winning a judgement. There are always two sides of the story, and that’s why he have the judicial system. Reputable collections companies won’t take your business without a judgement, but you can definitely find some that will. Further, if you hire a collections company, and try to pursue this man, thereby damaging his credit, then he takes you to court over it, you could be liable for more than what he owes you. It’s risky.

      If you get a judgement first, that becomes your insurance policy, and “muscle” when trying to collect the debt. It’s true, I believe less than 10% of rental debts are ever collected – but I don’t remember where I heard that stat. Further, though you could garnish his wages (if he had a job), you wouldn’t be able to place a lien on his primary home – after all, what right do you have to claim that lien? A debt doesn’t give you property lien rights, otherwise, every credit card company in the county would be placing liens on homes.

      If you win a case in small claims court, you could then rightfully work with a collections agency. If they don’t have any luck, you could wait until the couple passes, and stake your claim on their estate – however that might be many years away.

      If I were in your shoes, I would talk with a licensed landlord-tenant attorney in Brevard County. I’m not a lawyer, and they would be able to guide you better than I. They should know the county laws like the back of their hand. I’m sorry this happened to you, but I wish you the best of luck!

  • Jay

    I am dealing with a 3 day notice from my landlord in FL. Yes, I fell behind on my rent and made arrangements to pay the rent for this month on the 22nd. They are a married couple and I was dealing with the husband who agreed verbally and via text that the 22nd would be fine to catch up the remainder. His wife, who is not very nice, did not agree served a 3 day notice and included in that notice that they would be terminating the lease on the 31st of August even though our lease does not end until the 30th of September. The 3 day notice gives me until the 15th (today) to pay the total but I am only able to pay a portion. Can I be locked out on the 1st of September if I pay and they don’t want me here? They also verbally lowered our rent back in April by $150 because of the way we have been upgrading and taking care of the house but on the 3 day notice they are asking for the amount stated on the lease. I did some research and read that if I pay a portion of my rent and they accept it, the 3 day notice is voided and they must serve us with another. Is this correct? Just want a little clarification on the information.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jay,

      A landlord is not allowed to change the locks on you or cut the utilities – it’s forbidden in every state.
      If they do, call the police.

      Are both the husband and wife listed on the lease as the landlord? If it’s only one of them, you’d have to solely work with that person. It doesn’t matter what the other person says.

      Per statute 83.56, they must include certain language in the notice for it to be legit: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0083/Sections/0083.56.html

      I suggest reading that entire statute, because it will explain the situation you are in.

      As far as I know, only the eviction case (which is court case) must start over if they accept partial rent. As for the 3-day notice to terminate the lease (which is different) if you don’t pay your rent IN FULL, like the notice demands, then it doesn’t matter if you paid part of it. If it’s not IN FULL, your lease gets terminated and you lose the right to occupy the premise. You still owe the money either way, but if you can come up with it in time, you get to stay.

      Now, if you don’t vacate, then they have to file an eviction case against you – where you get forced out by the sheriff a few weeks later.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, nor do I know what your county laws say. I suggest having a conversation immediately with both of them, and forcing them to agree on the 22nd or the 3 day notice, but not both, and that you are confused.

      Otherwise, you should talk to a lawyer, but it might worth it to borrow money from a family member just to get current on your rent. Just my 2 cents.

  • Steph

    Hi I live in FL , I have a lease and my rent are due on the 1st of the months , we cant afford to pay the rent because of my job hours cut, im going to move out on Aug 31,2014 i called the leasing office to let them know , the lady said they are taking me to court this monday Aug 15, 2014 i told her im moving out , she said they are still taking me to court and eviction date will be around Sept 2, 2014 i wanted to know if im leaving before the put the eviction notice at my door does it still count as an eviction or just a broken lease. please , thanks have a good day.

  • Elizabeth

    Hi,

    I have recently received a notice from the previous apartment complex that I owe them 365.00 for carpet cleaning, painting. general cleaning, and administration fees. I lived there for two years and there was normal wear and tear to the carpet. I never painted the walls or hung excessive amounts of things. I feel as though they are charging us for the things they normally do when a tenant leaves. There is nothing in my lease about having to pay for carpet cleaning or repainting. I have done some research and it seems like there was once a law passed that states that a landlord can not charge a tenant for normal wear and tear that includes cleaning, carpet cleaning, and painting. But I am having trouble finding current information on this. This may have been for a particular county. So my question is can rental laws be different in each county? And is there any information or sites that can help me find some clarification?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Absolutely! Rental laws can vary from county to county. However, the standard (nationwide) is that landlords cannot charge for normal wear and tear. Tenants are responsible for returning the property to the condition it was in, upon move-in, minus normal wear and tear.

      With that said, many landlords force a tenant to pay for carpet cleanings after vacating, however if it wasn’t in your lease, I don’t see how they could charge you – unless the damage was beyond “normal”.

      The problem with apartment complexes is that they often skip the legal process. They feel that they can simply turn the debt over to a collections agency if you don’t pay – which will hurt your credit. The proper way to handle it, if you disagree on the debt, is to take you to small claims court, and win a judgement first. Without a judgement, who’s to say that they are correct???

      So, I think it’s best to try and discuss this with them in person. Get the manager to explain why they feel you are responsible for the $365.00, by showing you the contract, or pictures of evidence.

      If they can’t convince you that you have a legal responsibility, then contact a lawyer immediately and try to intimidate them into backing down – before they ruin your credit.

      Keep in mind, I’m NOT a lawyer, and this is simply what I would do in your situation. This is not legal advice.

  • Robert

    Whats is the legalities behind a Contract To Lease? If both tenant and landlord have signed and executed the lease…then the tenant decides he wants to “Think about it” cab the landlord go after the deposit if the tenant backs away from the property?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Robert,

      I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t take this as legal advice. In my conversations with lawyers, it’s my understanding that once a lease is signed, the tenant can be held liable for the full rent amount, for the entire term of the lease, even if he doesn’t move in. With that said, most courts will expect the landlord to make a reasonable attempt to mitigate damages, therefore when you find a replacement tenant, the old tenant is off the hook.

      To answer your question, if my tenant is asking to break the lease before it starts, I would fully keep the deposit, and say “you have to pay rent until I can find someone else to take your spot. Feel free to spread the word and help me advertise the unit.”

      By keeping the deposit, you will cover your damages for at least 30 days (assuming you have a 1 month deposit). If it takes you 3 months to find a replacement tenant, the tenant would be responsible for 2 months of rent + the deposit = 3 months.

      Make sense? If you want specific advice, please take your lease to a lawyer, and have him or her give you legal counsel.

  • Courtney

    I live in Fl. My landlord never asked for a security deposit and further more told
    Me they couldn’t find the signed lease when there was an electrical fire that needed repair. However, told me I
    Am responsible for any damages. There is some wear and tear, but if there is no security deposit or a signed lease, could he get away with sending me a bill anyways for “damages”? Door has some scratches, but I planned to repair. Counter top is half ruined (like that when I moved in and landlord chose to caulk it which didn’t resolve anything) I also took pics of damages that were there prior to my moving in. What chances does he have to accuse me of these damages? He wants to do an inspection when I move out but never did one when I moved in? Please help!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Courtney,

      Signed lease or not, security deposit or not, a tenant is responsible for any damages that are above and beyond normal wear and tear.

      If a tenant, for whatever reason, caused an electrical fire, then yes, the tenant would be responsible for damage. If the electrical fire started on it’s own, without any misuse by a tenant, then the landlord would be responsible for it.

      A tenant can’t be held responsible for damages that were present when he/she moved-in. Hopefully, you documented them when you moved-in, so you have proof that they pre-dated your tenancy.

      Some landlords only do a move-out inspection. He might have done a move-out inspection for the tenant prior to you, and therefore has documentation of the condition when you moved-in. However, if you think he’s being shady or unfair, feel free to speak up and refute any charges. A landlord must give you an itemized list of damages, and their cost, if he expects you to pay for them. A landlord must also send notice using exact language found in Florida Statute 83.49 (3a).

      http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0083/Sections/0083.49.html

      I hope that helps. Good Luck! Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Joni

    I have lived in my rental home for 19 years. In the begining we had a yearly lease. My landlord lives out of state so after 10 years or so he stopped mailing me a lease to sign. My rent did go up in that time and I religiously paid my rent on time, repaired and maintained the house, did improvements and set up repairs of the property when it was his responsibility to pay for them. I have been a wonderfull tenant and he has told me that and how much he appreciates it. I also run my daycare business out of my home, which he has allowed, which is stated in the lease.
    Last week he called me on the phone and told me his wife left him and he has to sell the house in order to pay his bills. I told him I understood but that I needed till January to move out. I have no money to move, get a place that requires 2 months deposit, and find a job so I can afford to live anywhere, and inform my clients that I will no longer take care of there children!!
    He’s now telling me I have 60 days to move out. An investor is buying the property to rent out .Can my landlord legally put a stipulation into the sale of the house that the currant renter will be allowed to stay in the house until Jan.2015. That’s one option I hope is available to me, otherwise I don’tkow what I’ll do. Can you give me any advice or other choices that I might recommend to my landlord. How do you moved 19 years of your life , find a job, and get another house to live in such short a time. Do I have any rights? Please advise me on what my options are.

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Landlordology is a moderated community.
If you want your photo to appear next to your comment, create a Gravatar.

Get Updates by Email

Join Thousands of Landlords