Florida Rental Laws

Written by on January 7, 2013

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

We’ve used the Official State Statutes and other reputable municipal sources were used to research this information. All sources are cited appropriately.

With that said, landlord-tenant laws are always changing, and may even vary from county to county. You have a responsibility to perform your own research and cautiously apply the laws 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)
  • Statute of Limitations

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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563 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Kara

    Hello. I am a social worker and I am working with a family who is having issues with getting things repaired in their unit. The sliding glass door is broken to the point that someone could just pick it up, move it to the side, and walk in. Most of the windows are also in need of repair. The tenant has placed foil and tape over the open areas of the windows. A cat even tried jumping through one of the windows and came close to getting in. The landlord refuses to fix these things, which are clearly safety concerns for the tenant. The tenant contacted code enforcement. Code enforcement advised the tenant they would issue citations for the fence and driveway. Code enforcement also notified the tenant that the landlord does not have the property registered as a rental property. What are the tenants rights regarding these issues? She is on a fixed income, but would like to get out of this apartment unit.

    • Dan Hunter

      Question: Why did she rent an apartment that was in this condition in the first place? Assuming she did not commit all this damage after she moved in ?? She should def. take her business elsewhere.

      • Kara

        These are issues that started occurring after she moved into the unit and now the landlord flat out refuses to fix them.

        • DAN HUNTER

          KARA, IF THESE ISSUES STARTED OCCURRING AFTER SHE MOVED IN, WHAT YOU ARE SAYING IS THE TENANT IS DAMAGING THE UNIT AND SHE EXPECTS LANDLORD TO PATCH UP HER DESTRUCTION. NO BUSINESS COULD SURVIVE THAT TYPE OF NONSENCE. HE SHOULD PUT HER OUT, PATCH UP THE HOUSE AND SELL IT. IF HE HASN’T REGISTERED THE RENTAL UNIT AND IF HE DID NOT REQUIRE A STRONG CO-SIGNOR WHEN RENTING TO A PERSON ON A FIXED INCOME, HE OBVIOUSLY HASN’T SUFFICIENT BUSINESS ACUMEN TO OPERATE A RENTAL PROPERTY AT A PROFIT. SHE IS IN A UNIT THAT SHE SHOULD NOT BE IN AND LANDLORD IS IN A BUSINESS HE DOES NOT NEED TO BE IN. LOTS OF LUCK TO BOTH OF YOU.

          • Kara

            Dan, the things that need to be repaired are due to the property’s age and neglect over the years. The tenant’s elderly mother lived in the unit for approximately 8 years. When the mother moved out, the landlord allowed the daughter to remain in the unit. This unit is part of the triplex, in which all of the units are in need of repair. As I stated, these issues have occurred due to years of neglect by the landlord. The tenant has even offered to pay for these repairs out of pocket if the landlord will allow her to deduct the expense from her rent; however, the landlord refuses to allow her to do that.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Kara,

      The way I see it, the landlord is in violation of the lease by not providing a secure premise.

      You should read statute 83.51: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0083/Sections/0083.51.html

      It’s explains the landlord’s responsibilities – many of which the landlord in your story is not providing.

      Not having an exterior door and windows that lock is a big deal, and the tenant *should* be able to send a “7 day remedy or quit” notice, which means that the landlord has 7 days to fix the issues of habitability, or the tenant can terminate the lease and sue him for damages. (83.56 – http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0083/Sections/0083.56.html_

      I hope that helps. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice. I’m just an experienced landlord, who did some research into the statutes.

      • Dan Hunter

        Hi Kara, It’s good to get the rest of the story. The toughest to renovate building I ever bought was a neglected four unit. The price was right !! I was to learn the lady in number four had vacated two months prior to my purchase of the building. After an eight hour absence, she returned home to find her baby dead in it’s crib. Immediately I ordered a full building inspection. It had the usual violations that come with an older building, but I noticed the heating inspector did not have a carbon monoxide detector. I borrowed one from a friend and sure enough there was a CO leak coming from the furnace. Rain water had run down the chimney over the years , and had rusted out the smoke pipe that led from furnace to chimney. You couldn’t see it because the rust was on the bottom of the pipe. I found it by running my fingers under the pipe.
        I hope you tell your client to vacate that building. Old, neglected and uninspected buildings and be very dangerous.

        • Carol Ann Speight

          There are so many times I wish I was NOT a resident of Canada BUT in the above case of a Carbon Monoxide detector problem I can say I am elated to be a Canadian citizen! Our government,(albeit inadequate at times) has made it law that ALL landlords MUST install carbon monoxide detectors in ALL rental properties.

  • Carol Ann Speight

    Thank you so much for your answer. I will check out the article.

  • L. Green

    In the state of Florida can a landlord increase your rent by 5% annually?

  • Shylakota

    My property manager was putting up paper notices on everyone’s doors less than a week before rent was due. They state we must give her our personal email so she can give us access to a portal where we will pay our rent and submit our work orders for now on. She says that they will no longer accept checks, cashiers checks, money orders and so on. Rent can only be paid online. Most of us don’t have internet like myself (I use internet at a neighbors) Is she allowed to force us into paying our rent online? If not what am supposed to do about this?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Shylakota,

      My personal suggestion would be comply with the request. Online rent collection is a really great way to pay rent.

      Most payment systems will allow you to setup a recurring payment, so that you only have to login once, setup your payment schedule, and then rent is automatically withdrawn from your account each month.

      I’m sure your manager will let you their computers to set it up. Some systems even work on smart phones, so you might be able to access the portal that way.

      If you want to fight it, you’ll have to consult your lease first, then talk to a lawyer, or a free legal aid provider. If your lease specifically says that rent must be paid by check, or other method, then the landlord can’t really change it. However, most leases give the landlord an option to change this method as they see fit – and you’re still responsible for paying rent.

  • raymond wayda

    I just got a call from my father, who lives in St. Pete Beach. His building was just purchased and the new owners are raising his rent 80% at the end of his yearly lease. Is this legal? It seems like it is too much at one time. He has until July to move out or sign a new contract at the new price. Does he have any recourse?

    Thanks for any help.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Raymond,

      In FL, there is no statute that limits the amount can be increased. However, if your father has a fixed-term lease, then the landlord wouldn’t be able to raise the rent at all – even if building ownership changes. If your father does not have a lease, or is month-to-month, then the landlord can raise the rent every month.

      Check out this related podcast: http://www.landlordology.com/ask-lucas/006-lease-termination-at-sale-of-property/

      80% does seem like a lot – even if there isn’t a statute. It might be worth telling your dad to contact a local free/discount legal aid provider. I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t take this as legal advice.

  • Glenda

    My mom passed away 5 weeks ago. She had signed a 3 year lease when she rented her apartment and paid a $1,200 security deposit. The lease had not been satisfied at the time of her death. Is the landlord required to return the security deposit to her estate? This subject is not mentioned in the lease agreement. Thank you.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Glenda,

      Generally speaking, the landlord is allowed to use part or all of the deposit to compensate them for damages. That’s the purpose of the deposit. If there was still time (and unpaid rent) left on the lease, then the landlord will likely use the deposit to offset the unpaid rent until they can find another tenant.

      I would imagine that if the lease doesn’t automatically terminate upon death, then the landlord could even ask the estate to compensate him/her until a replacement tenant is found.

      Please keep in mind that I’m not an attorney, or estate specialist. If you get into a conflict with the landlord, you should absolutely consult an licensed attorney.

      • Glenda

        Thank you, Lucas, for your reply. The lease is terminated at the time of her death, however, the landlord is refusing to return the security deposit since the lease was not fulfilled. I have searched Florida Statute (namely 83.49 and 83.59), and I could find no law regarding death of a tenant and what happens to the security deposit.

    • DAN HUNTER

      Hi Glenda, I have never encountered this situation but one would hope that landlord mitigates the damages and sends the balance to the estate. Make sure and send a bill to the landlord and see what happens. I would give him 30 days to pay. In the meantime you need to consult your probate attorney about it and if the landlord is obligated to refund the money, sue him in small claims court thus saving the attorney fees for the estate. I would not call landlord on the phone. A personality conflict does nobody any good. Good luck !!

  • M

    The tenant’s lease terminates at the end of March 2015 and the property is currently for sale. The tenants have already refused to allow a showing to potential purchasers. They insist on being at the property when it is being shown and are not currently residing there. They are making demands as to when they are available and who can visit the property – such as no children allowed on the property. I have already sent them an email requesting them to cooperate with the realtor to allow showings with reasonable notice. I also said that if they do not cooperate and allow the property to be shown then they are in defaut of the lease and I assume that I may be able to recuperate a portion or all of the security deposit. Am I correct in this assumption?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi M,

      Generally speaking, the deposit can only be used to offset for actual damages (financial or material). Meaning, a landlord needs to have proof of damages, usually via a receipt. How would you quantify the damages if they make showings difficult.

      If I were selling my house, I would simply provide the required notice, and then show up with a key. If they want to be there, fine, but they can’t stop me (or my realtor) from entering with proper notice. Nor can they prevent kids from showing up. That’s ridiculous.

      The purpose of giving proper notice is so they can prepare for the arrival. They really shouldn’t mandate the time allowed for showings, as long as realtors are giving proper notice during normal business house. If they are worried that an agent is going to damage the unit and you’ll hold them responsible, then you should tell them to take pictures of the unit, to document the condition.

      Please know that I’m not a lawyer, but rather an experienced landlord. This is not legal advice.

  • B Cramer

    I live in Florida and have been renting for going on 3 years. The Landlord has failed to send new lease, does this mean I am now month to month and can move with my 30 days notice? Thank you.

  • Rosa

    We are currently in the process of moving out of our nightmare apartment complex. They have provided us with a detailed list of things that need to be cleaned including cabinet handles, blinds, towel racks, mirrors, etc. They are telling us that if all of these things aren’t cleaned to their liking, we will be charged for each item they have to clean. Aren’t we only obligated to remove our belongings and swept and vacuumed? This list seems a little extensive. We also paid a $400 non-refundable pet deposit when we moved in. The cheap carpet they installed when we moved in 3 years ago started threading and coming apart in random areas. When we asked if it could be repaired, an “expert” told us it was our dog that did it and there nothing they could do. Our dog didn’t do anything and we are anticipating this being a problem when we move out. In Florida, would this be covered by our pet deposit?

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