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
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409 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Karina

    Hi,

    I would like to know if there is a limit on how much a landlord can charge as a sublease fee?

  • alex

    Can a landlord leave a 3 day notice to vacate for not paying rent on the same day rent is due? Got home yesterday and had a notice on my door without even knowing if my check was in the mail or not. I found it quite odd.

  • debbie

    Can u evict someone in florida that has been living in your home rent free for over a year.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Debbie,

      When a tenant doesn’t pay rent, that is exactly when you would evict them. If you mean that you’ve allowed a guest to occupy your home as their residence for free, then you should talk to a lawyer. Some courts will force you to go through the eviction process, others won’t hear the case since there was no lease, and the person was never really a tenant.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

  • Vanessa ross

    Is a landlord required to have home owners insurance on the property?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Vanessa,

      Hi Michelle,

      To be honest, I don’t know. If the house has a mortgage on it, the mortgage company will require that the home is insured. However, if the home is debt-free, then I suspect there is no other entity that would require the home to be insured.

      Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great idea to always carry insurance. Further, there’s nothing stopping the tenant from getting renter’s insurance of their own.

      Cheers!

  • katrina

    Hi i moved into an apartment that was suppost to be move in ready and it looked like a pos when i moved in, i had to clean it, steam clean, amd do repairs myself, i have been here 2 months n they have yet to change my broken dishwasher, i also have pictures of roaches and bugs coming out of an ac unit in an apartment they tried to give me, they said nothing was wrong with that, and no i don’t live in te ghetto, what do i do or what can i say?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Katrina,

      I’m sorry your place was such a mess. A landlord is responsible to make the place habitable.

      A few roaches do not cause inhabitability, but a lot of them do. The key is to get them taken care of immediately whether you use off-the-shelf products or a pro exterminator.

      If it’s just a few roaches, lay some boric acid around the locations that you’ve seen them.
      Here are some helpful guides:
      http://www.landlordology.com/how-to-kill-roaches/
      http://www.landlordology.com/boric-acid-best-roach-killer/

      As for the cleanliness, it’s too bad that it wasn’t clean when you moved in. When a tenant moves out, he or she is only responsible to return the property to the condition it was when he/she moves-in. Be sure you take lots of pictures of the move-in condition, so the landlord can’t claim that it was “spotless”.

      If the landlord promised a working dishwasher, in the advertisement or in the lease, he or she needs to fix that for you in a reasonable amount of time. If not, you could send a few demand letters, and then with the help of a lawyer, you could eventually terminate the lease for a lease violation or failure to deliver the promised services.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t take this as legal advice.

  • Harrit

    I would like to know if there is anything I can do because my apartment Assistant Manager left a notice on my door saying I was late on my rent. He left a Three day notice saying for me to pay my rent or vacate the premises. The notice said that I was late and included a late fee. However, I was not late on my rent and this really was humiliating to have a notice on my door. In fact not only was I not late I always pay my rent in advance- my rent was paid nearly 2 weeks in advance for the month of October (September 26th to be exact). I am really upset and appalled that I had this notice on my door. I called and the Assistant Manager said this has never happened before and he didn’t understand why it was done- yet he is the one that signed the letter. He then went on to say he will see about getting the late fee refunded. He blamed the “mix-up” on some third party company- but didn’t really offer anything for their screw up.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Harrit

      What would you like him to do about it? It seems like the removal of the late fee and an apology would be sufficient. If you want something else, speak up.

      It’s common to use a third party to handle notices like this. They probably have a bunch of templates with his signature, so it’s possible that he knew nothing about it.

      I hope that helps.

  • tania

    I have a question about a notice of change. What exactly is it and should I receive something like this in writing via mail not email? My landlord has emailed me and and told me that he wishes to sell the house. Currently I’m on a month to month because the lease that was signed originally 2 years ago in February was for 12 months with the intent if a long term lease. The lease had verbiage that if I chose I could opt to buy the house and the money paid towards rent would be applied to the price. Since then we’ve communicated about a purchase price but his purchase price is much higher than what market value is. I’m not really sure what if any options I have at this point. Am I entitles to stay until the end of January the end of the time when the lease term would be up since if I’m reading things correctly the lease just rolls over or must I move now?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tania,

      When a fixed-term lease goes month-to-month at the end of the term, the original terms usually carry over (with the obvious exception of dates, price, and notices).

      If you are in a month-to-month lease, the landlord would only need to give you 15 days notice prior to the end of any monthly period in order to terminate it (83.57(3)). Once a lease is terminated, the tenant wouldn’t have any rights to buy the unit.

      http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0083/Sections/0083.57.html

      The option to buy a property is a nice one, but it means that you get the first opportunity to buy it at the price that it is being offered on a open market. It doesn’t really matter if you think it’s worth less. However, you might need to talk to a lawyer about this, because you might get another opportunity once a contract is actually accepted.

      Please know that I am not a lawyer so please don’t consider this legal advice. I’m just a landlord, trying to help :)

  • David

    Hi.
    So my apt complex cut a 2′x2′ hole in my patio ceiling for inspection purposes & left it there for 10 months. They finally gave notice one evening for us 4 apartments) to clear off our patios because they were beginning work the next morning. We are now in the 3rd month of having our patios destroyed with no finish in sight! Our patios are a large part of the sq footage we are paying for in these units. Our apt is cluttered full of our patio furniture/items & all our plants are dead or dieing now. They were also using my electric outlet for all of their power tools! Isn’t there a concession that can be legally demanded for all of this?
    Thank you.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi David,

      It does seem a bit unreasonable. In situations like this, you’ll just have to work it out with the management company. Perhaps you could put your plants out on the patio when they aren’t working. If you are paying for the power, it is totally reasonable to ask for compensation for the excess power usage. If they deny your request, I think your best next step is to file a complaint with the better business bureau.

      If you want a legal opinion, you’ll have to talk to a lawyer. In fact, a lawyer might be able to help you write a nice demand letter which should get their attention.

  • Nick

    My wife and I have beenough renting a house since December of last year and my wife filled out the lease and gave it back to our lanlord who was supposed to sign it and give us a copy (my wife filled everything out that we agreed upon) we have asked several times for a copy of the lease and they would never provide us a copy of the lease and now that we have had issues the with AC and asked them to have to fixed they are saying it is our responsibility under lanlord tenant laws and what we had agreed upon. After all this we finally get a copy of our lease on 10/8/14 and the lanlord has gone back and checked that we are responsible for everything now…is it there anything I can do since she refused several times before to provide me a copy of it… also on every page at the bottom where it has a place for the lanlords initials and the tenants initials the lanlord failed to initial every page, does this make a difference at all? Thanks in advance

    • Nick

      I’m sorry I mean that the lanlord is saying it is on me to get it fixed and I replied to them that it is not under the FL lanlord tenant laws and also what we had agreed upon.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Nick,

      Fixing the major appliances are not the tenant’s responsibility – even if the lease says so. I highly doubt that those provisions would hold up in court – but what do I know… I’m not a lawyer.

      Further, the landlord usually can’t change anything about the lease after you’ve signed it, without you approving the change.

      My suggestion would be to talk to a lawyer. It sounds like this landlord knows exactly what he/she is doing, and they will run right over you unless you have something that forces them to take you seriously.

  • Jolene

    Can a landlord, for which you have been with for 4 years, request pet interviews with photo’s along with current vaccination records in order to keep your pet? Have already paid a pet deposit fee as well.

  • Candice

    can landlord raise rent 18% with about 20 days’ notice on a month-to-month lease.?

  • Sean

    Hi Lucas

    My story is quite unique. I emigrated to USA and signed a one year lease on the 9th August 2013. I paid 6 months upfront. I then paid rent monthly from the 1st month and my rental for the full year was fully paid up after 6 months. I asked my landlord for proof that she did not co-mingle these funds as per rule 83.49 and she became hostile and could not provide such proof. At the end of the lease I moved out of the property and my landlord has with held $1800 from my security deposit. When I questioned why, she gave me a list of what needed to be repaired. The itemized list seemed that she inflated the prices. An example would be $43 for an item which retails for $3.95. She charged me $250 to clean the house. The house was thoroughly cleaned prior to leaving. She took photo’s of the bottom corner of a bath and a dusty AC vent to justify the dirt. Lastly, she send me an account for almost $1000 stating that there was a dent in the garage door. I contacted the garage company who confirmed that the invoice was not theirs and that they had never been to that address. Lastly, she sent me an invoice from a carpet cleaner for $150. There was no address on the invoice. When I contacted him, he said that he had never been to the house and that the date of service was a Sunday and that he does not work on a Sunday. I understand that you are not a lawyer, but can you kindly offer any advice. Surely there have to be repercussions when a landlord provides fraudulent accounts and breaches section 83.49. Can she be sued for punitive damages ?
    Many thanks in anticipation.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Sean

      I think you’re dealing with a landlord who is falsifying information. If the landlord is lying about this, then you can’t expect her to be honor in negotiations either.

      If I were you, I were file a small claims action against her immediately. You can do so at the local county courthouse.

      In statute 83.49, section 2d, it says:
      IF THE LANDLORD FAILS TO TIMELY MAIL YOU NOTICE, THE LANDLORD MUST RETURN THE DEPOSIT BUT MAY LATER FILE A LAWSUIT AGAINST YOU FOR DAMAGES. IF YOU FAIL TO TIMELY OBJECT TO A CLAIM, THE LANDLORD MAY COLLECT FROM THE DEPOSIT, BUT YOU MAY LATER FILE A LAWSUIT CLAIMING A REFUND.
      YOU SHOULD ATTEMPT TO INFORMALLY RESOLVE ANY DISPUTE BEFORE FILING A LAWSUIT. GENERALLY, THE PARTY IN WHOSE FAVOR A JUDGMENT IS RENDERED WILL BE AWARDED COSTS AND ATTORNEY FEES PAYABLE BY THE LOSING PARTY.

      I think that’s your answer. Good luck man. Please let me know how it goes. Feel free to talk to a lawyer as well. Perhaps a lawyer might be able to help you resolve the dispute without going to court.

  • Mee Zee

    Can the rent be increased during an eviction process, providing a 2-week notice to a month to month agreement ?

  • Joy

    Hi, I’m a landlord and my tenants have one 15 Lb rat terrier with provisions in the rental agreement as such. I was recently at the home to meet an A/C repair tech along with the tenants and found the tenant walking three dogs. I asked him about the dogs and he said he was pet sitting for a few days. I’m suspicious that these dogs have been at the home for several weeks and am concerned … Do they have the right to ‘pet sit’ and Do I have any recourse in protecting my property. Joy

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Joy,

      Generally speaking, a tenant is not allowed to have any pets at the house that are not approved in the lease. Otherwise, what’s to stop a tenant from “pet-sitting” for 12 months?

      From one landlord to another, I think it would be perfectly acceptable to tell them to remove the non-approved dogs from the premise. If the tenant doesn’t comply, you could terminate the lease with proper notice for the violation. In Florida, Tenant has 7 days to remedy the issue or landlord can file for eviction and terminate lease (statute 83.56(2)).

      As for protecting your property, any damage that his dogs, or his friend’s dogs, cause to the property can be withheld from the security deposit. As the overseer of the property, the tenant is responsible for all damage that occurs by the occupants or their guests (or pets).

      I hope that helps. Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t consider this legal advice. I’m just a landlord, trying to help :)

      • Joy

        Thank you, Lucas, I appreciate your quick response. Would it be reasonable for me to ask the tenants to provide an additional nonrefundable pet deposit for the two additional dogs even if they do remove the pets within seven days? I’m sure there will be resistance on their part but if it’s reasonable and within the limits of the law, can I try?

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Joy,

          In my opinion, if you force them to get rid of the dogs, then you should not ask for an additional deposit. That just seems like you are kicking them when they are down.

          If you decide to let them keep the dogs, then you should definitely take an extra deposit.

          Your biggest muscle in this situation is that you’ll terminate the lease if they don’t comply.

  • Joy

    Thanks again, Lucas, I’ll heed your advice.

  • Rhonda

    I would like to know if it is legal for an apartment complex upon move out that there standard
    policy is to force the tenants to have the apartment painted by a professional, in which a
    receipt has to be provided, also the carpets professionally clean with a receipt provided? No
    damages to the wall or carpeting, this is supposedly what they are doing to all there tenants,
    regardless of what is considered ordinary wear and tear. Is this legal?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Rhonda

      I can’t speak to the legal aspect of this, since I’m not a lawyer. However, if this is a lease provision that you agreed to, then you would have to do it. It’s quite common for landlords to require a professional carpet cleaning (with receipts) when the tenants leave.

      Personally, I’ve never required a painting, but the same logic would stand.

      Generally speaking, I’ve found that if it’s been agreed to in the lease, and it’s not prohibited by law, then it usually allowable.

      That’s my two cents… keep in mind, this is not legal advice.

  • Joy

    Hi Lucas,

    I’ve received an email from my tenants pertaining to the pet issues and their response was ‘We take pride in taking great care of your property and we ensure its maintenance to the highest standard.’ That said, I’ve noticed changes within the home over the past 1.5 years. Recently, I noticed increasing concerns regarding neglect, damage, cleanliness, and sanitary conditions. There is rust over the top of the dryer along with wet rags and spilled liquid detergent, the ice maker has been broken for several months, the kitchen faucet and porcelain sink has rust, stains, and chips, and the bathrooms and walk-in shower stall has increasing signs of mold and mildew throughout the grout (both wall and floor tile) and door. It’s clear and evident that the home has not been cleaned since they moved in. I’m concerned that if these issues are not addressed soon, they will become unsalvageable. I’ve documented these conditions but am not sure if I ignore what I see, will I be able to recover damages when they move out. I’ve read the Florida statute regarding ‘clean and sanitary conditions’, however, I’m not sure if I’m within the law to address these issues with my tenants or if I should, for fear of repurcussion. There is 5 months left on the lease.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Joy,

      So, if I understand you correctly, your tenants have lied about the extra pets, are delusional, and completely dirty.

      The way I see it, you have two options:

      1. Ignore the filthiness, and just take care of the damages when they move out – deducting it from their deposit. Your awareness of it now doesn’t negate your ability to withhold from the deposit later. In fact, it doesn’t make any sense to replace a chipped sink while they are still living there – simply because they will probably damage the new sink too – as long as it’s still functional.

      2. You could step in and give them a 7 day notice to remedy or quit. (83.56(2)).
      http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0083/Sections/0083.56.html
      However, keep in mind, you’d have to be able to cite a lease clause in order to use it as a reason to terminate the lease. Therefore, your lease must talk about pets, cleanliness, or pests, in order to claim that they are violating the lease.

      Alternative, if they are causing severe damage to the unit or the structure, you can step in any time in order to save your investment. But be cautious about claiming “severe” damage because that is usually reserved for massive pest infestations, plumbing or sewer leaks, broken windows, structural damage, etc.

      Here’s a helpful guide: http://www.landlordology.com/how-to-handle-dirty-tenants/

      I hope that helps. You could also speak with a lawyer who might be able to come up with other options for you.

  • Lara Moore

    My husband and I have been renting a home for almost 2 years now. A few months ago, we were told that the landlord wanted to sell the house. The listing agent showed the home twice and after the second time, the real estate sign left our yard. 2 weeks later, we were then told by phone that the house had been sold and she wanted to know when we would be out, even though she was asking us to move out early. A week later we found out from who we believe the new owner is, that our previous month’s rent went to the original owner of the house (the current said owner closed on the home 3 days prior to our rent being paid) and new said owner had not received that month’s rent upon closing nor had he been given our security deposit or pet deposit.
    We then start scrambling to find a new place, all the while being hounded by the previous landlord as to when we are getting out and when we will pay the current month’s rent. We have not been communicating with her because we know the house was sold and someone else (still didn’t have notice as to who) owned the house and is therefore the landlord. After several conversations with the person believed to be the new owner and getting a lawyer involved, a verbal agreement was reached in which he said he would take our security deposit (equal to our rent) as our last month’s rent and we would move out early. The attorney drew up the agreement today and sent it to him. They had a conversation on the phone and now he says he’s changed his mind! He now wants his rent and we can stay until the end of the lease. We have already found a new place to live based on the discussions we had. What can I do Now?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Lara,

      I hate to tell you this, but neither of your landlords had any right to terminate your lease early unless there was a provision in your lease that said otherwise.

      Your old landlord should have reimbursed you for the days that he didn’t own the property, or should have passed it along to the new owner. The old owner should have definitely passed along the deposit.

      If you want to move out based on the verbal agreement, I think you best bet is to work with your lawyer to force the new landlord to honor the agreement. With that said, I would force the new landlord to show a copy of the new deed, so that you have assurance that he/she is the new owner.

      If you can’t get out of your current lease, then you might be sued by the new place (if you signed a new lease already), upon which, I suggest taking the old landlord (and the new owner) to court for damages. They really messed things up.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. I’m just a landlord trying to help.

      • Lara Moore

        Thank you for your response. We have not signed a lease for the new place, but plan on doing so this week. That being said, the new owner did provide us with paperwork (unsigned and unnotarized) that he does in fact, own the property, mind you-2 months after he closed. Here is the rub-the old owner is financing him and his mother is the real estate agent who sold the property.
        Since our lease isn’t technically up for another 6 weeks-if we move out (as was asked of us by previous owner) could new owner sue us for vacating our lease early? The agreement that we made verbally, which he now refuses to sign, gives the date that we will be out which is before the lease is up. We did this to accomodate him and his family, so they could move in early, but now I’m afraid he will take action against us for the next month as well. I feel that we are approaching everything right, but we seem to actually be moving backward.
        The bottom line is my husband and I felt as though we were being pushed out of our home and in order to be accommodating to the new owner, we went ahead and made the decision that we would move out, but because we didn’t know who the true owner was, we were not going to pay rent to one and then get sued by the other for non-payment (this was the lawyer’s suggestion).
        If we end up in court, would a judge understand all of this or will he/she simply go based on the letter of the law. We have not lived peaceably in our home since September and I am blazing mad about that. All we wanted was a peaceful resolution and we thought he did too, but he lied. So now what?

  • Ashleigh Smith

    I live in jacksonville fl and last month the landlords informed us that the bank had bought the apartments and it would be 90 days before we would hear from the bank.Is this true and is our deposit going to the bank or the old owners get to retain our deposit.How long can we stay here without paying rent even though we are holding our monthly rent funds.Can we find out who owns the apartment.Thanks

    • Lucas Hall

      HI Ashleigh,

      Generally speaking, if a bank bought (or took possession of) your home, then the bank becomes your new landlord. Whenever a property changes ownership, the deposit and any pre-paid rent is usually transferred to the new owner, and the existing lease is allowed to finish it’s term.

      If I were you, I would try to contact the bank who bought the house – or ask your former landlord to identify the new owner. If you don’t pay rent in accordance with your lease, the owner (or now bank) could terminate the lease. So, it’s better to be proactive, and try to figure out who to pay and where to send the money. If you’re having trouble, it would be wise to talk with an attorney, who would be able to guide you though this process so you aren’t a casualty of a disorganized acquisition.

  • Jude Stringfellow

    Can a person (female) break a lease if she is getting married and moving to another state?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jude,

      No, unless there is a provision in the lease that specifically allows for that condition. Generally speaking, only tenants protected under SCRA and victims of domestic violence are allowed to terminate a fixed-term lease without any consequence.

      I suggest having an honest conversation with you landlord and see if you can strike a deal. Perhaps you can get out of the lease by paying a small fee.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer so please don’t take this as legal advice.

  • Quin

    Good evening,

    While washing clothes, and running water in the kitchen sink yesterday (to do breakfast dishes) all of a sudden had drainage backup in the bathtub and toilet (real load gurgling noises). I called landlord she scheduled 3 plumbers to come no one has shown. One plumber she wanted to send called me, I explained the problem he stated to have my landlord call another plumbing service (turns out he was a handyman not a plumber), he stated this sounds like pipe issues not a clog (there are many trees near house). Landlord called another one they stated too busy (I’m not sure I believe her). It has been more 33hours I can’t washed clothes, wash dishes, take a bath, flush toilet properly what are my rights? This is very unsanitary and I have to take tomorrow off now to be here! Landlord thinks I might have clogged toilet I told her this is not true and we do not know this yet she should at least get a “free estimate” and not guess or make my family and I suffer. There are many companies that offer free estimates on the weekend as well. She wanted me to buy Drain-O and pour in toilet, I explain that I did not want to do that because if plumber needs to go in after that the chemicals could splash on him and burn and also I heard Drain-O is good for pipes and I don’t want her to accuse me of damaging her pipes. I have spent most of the day waiting and researching this issue on line all site state a plumber is needed my landlord is stalling and keep calling me with excuses this house is old and I do believe it is pipes on our last call she said if its clogged I have to pay? Is this why she is stalling? is this true?
    Thanks in advance

  • Joy

    Hey Lucas,

    Thanks for the valuable information and suggestions you offer on this Q&A blog.

    I would like to show my home to potential renters prior to the end of my current tenant’s lease (March 31, 2014). Remember, these are the filthy tenants that have caused some damage to the property. First, how far in advance can I start showing the home and, second, what can I say or do to get the property in a presentable condition (in addition to your posted suggestions)?

    On a side note, if a landlord is successful in evicting a tenant for a legal non-compliance prior to the end of the lease, is the tenant required to pay the balance of the months remaining on the lease?

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