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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498 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • T H

    My rental property has a tenant in it with a lease through July 2014. The lease has a statement that the LL is required to give the tenant 45 days notice to vacate once a sales contract has been agreed to. I have a cash offer for the place and wish to sell it. Is this legal? I am willing to give the tenant a financial incentive to vacate as well.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi TH

      I can’t comment on the legality of this, since I’m not a lawyer, but I can tell you that this type of provision is very common. If I were in your shoes, I would have no problem exercising it.

    • Dan Hunter

      The lease is expired. Unless there is a Fl. hold over law in effect, there is no problem.
      If there is, give him $500 and send him on his way.

  • D S

    My Ex and I signed a lease together and both gave have of the deposit. In September 2013 I informed the landlord that I will be moving out in October 2013 when the lease is up and also, gave the landlord 30 day notice but my ex will be renewing a new lease. Landlord states I cant get my half of the deposit since he is signing a new lease. Can the landlord take my half of the deposit and use it for his new lease or should he collect the remaining deposit.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi DS,

      Generally speaking, if the lease expires, and a new lease is signed, the former deposit is given back (minus damages), and a new deposit is provided.

      Though you have joint and several liability with your Ex on the old lease, your responsibility ended on the day that your old lease expired. However, that won’t stop the landlord from returning the full deposit to your Ex (since you were considered one entity). It’s highly unlikely that the landlord will write you a check for half the deposit. You will probably need to address your Ex and get him/her to write you a check for half (minus damages).

      If neither want to cooperate, you should take your landlord to small claims court – or at least thats what I would do. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.

  • Karen

    Hello how do you handle if you tenant was recently diagnosis with Stage 2 breast cancer the situation now and the future with worst case in the event of her death. And her least coming up for renewal in March 2015. She is a great tenant and one month ahead on rent. Please advise. We live in Florida. thanks Karen

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Karen,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your tenant. That is incredibly sad.

      Well, there’s nothing you can do until March 2015, when her fixed term lease ends. I suggest not dwelling on it now, but rather addressing the situation in late January, early February. If her condition worsens, she may not want to renew at all. But if she does, you could always renew with a month-to-month.

    • Dan Hunter

      Do not in any way as much as imply you want her to move. This could be construed as a civil rights violation against the handicapped. Even if you win in court, your attorney fees will bankrupt you. She sounds like a great tenant. Just stand down and enjoy the situation while you still have her.

  • LH

    Is there a statue of limitations in which a former tenant can get the security deposit back? I am in Palm Beach County, FL. I did not received any 15 or 30 or 45 day notice in regards to the security deposit. When I wrote her stating the statutes about sending me a notice informing me that she was keeping my deposit, she said not to contact her and only attorney. I am disabled and time has lapsed. Can I still collect? It is going on 2 years in January that I moved out. I have sent her letters via certified, email, and regular mail a few times and they are rejected except for one in which she informed me that I was not getting a dime back. She sent this in late August after I sent her letters. She did not follow the rules. I rented from her for 7 years.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi LH,

      The statute of limitations on a written contract is 5 years and 4 years on an oral contract.

      http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0095/Sections/0095.11.html

      If you have a dispute over the deposit because you feel that she wrongfully withheld it, you could file a case in small claims court. Even though she says “talk to my attorney”, you don’t have to listen to her. Once she gets served with a summons, I bet she’ll be calling you!

      • LH

        Thanks Lucas. I was wondering if I had a case. She told me that the only person she would talk to is my attorney and don’t contact her. I have that in writing. I was trying to be nice and clearly state florida law to her in writing. She says her house does not look the same as 7 years when she rented it. Things were falling apart and she was slow to even repair. Tropical Storm Issac hit right before I moved. In moving items, I discovered mold on the wall behind furnishings and on the floor under a crate. My street was so flooded I could not get out for days. The only reason she rplaced the air conditioning unit was that the fire department came out because when I turned on the heat, the house smoked. There was live mold in the attic. I had an asthma attack 3 months later and almost died. When I think back on it, it happened shortly after exposure. Also, I know she was claiming homestead exemptions at least 2 years while I was living in the house. Any way, she made me fearful in her letter but as I think of it now, she is in the wrong. I kept asking her if there was anything else I needed to do in the house to get my deposit back before leaving and she never responded. That is how my friend said that she was not planning on giving it back. I cleaned the house up better and also replaced 2 doors out of pocket. Thanks for your help and any other advice you can give me. She is counting on my kindness and mistaking it for weakness. I hate to have to go to court. I am disabled with good days and bad days and would like to resolve it out of court. I will file with small claims and see what happens. I just need to know that since she did not follow Florida protocol whatsoever and only said that she was not giving me back anything and would see me in court about 7 months later as a result of me taking the initiative to contact her via certified mail, email, text, and USmail and now rejects my letter, DO I have a pretty open and shut case?

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi LH

          Court isn’t my area of expertise. I’m a landlord, not a lawyer. Though if I were you, I would attempt to file a small claims suit, I would also talk to a lawyer first – to get legal advice.

          If you don’t have money for a lawyer, you could google search for “free legal aid [YOUR COUNTY NAME]” and see what you find. Good luck. Please do let me know how it goes.

  • Suzy

    Is it lawful to add an additional 2 mos rent $4600, if we break lease before one yr.
    Landlord also has our security deposit and last month. I never heard anything like this.
    They have also raised our rent by 10%, in addition to misleading us about the air conditioning not being at all adequate, we purchase two portable ac units as in the summer months (8months), den is 90* and upstairs is 85*.Our bills keep going up each month currently $350! They keep trying to convince us that nothing is wrong. They sent ac guy out here and he admitted unit is too small for house! I can’t afford to move right now, has not signed a new lease given to us last night.
    PLEASE HELP……..we have been had. I have my daughter and her little child living here as well as my husband, not so easy to move. Do I have any protection against these dishonest landlords? If I had the money, I wouldn’t be renting and certainly can’t afford these adult expenses.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Suzy,

      What you are describing is commonly known as an “early termination fee” and it’s usually 1-2 month’s worth of rent, in the form of a fee – which allows you to break your lease and not be held responsible for any future rent. However, this fee should be documented in the lease. If your lease doesn’t say anything about it, then the landlord can’t charge it – but then again, he doesn’t have to let you terminate your lease.

      The last month’s rent that you paid should be used for “last month’s rent” regardless of when that is. If you already paid rent for you last month, then the initial prepayment should be returned to you.

      The security deposit can be withheld for damages (material or financial). The landlord can withhold it for physical damages to the unit, or missing rent/fees. The landlord can’t withhold it just because you terminated your lease early ESPECIALLY if you are paying the early termination fee.

      A 10% rent increase is a little high, but not much. Many places charge that much at lease renewal time. As for the AC, you might be able to break your lease under the term of false advertising, but it would be difficult and you would certainly need the help from a lawyer, since it’s a weak argument.

      I’m not sure what else to tell you. If you think your landlord is not providing a dwelling that is habitable, you can certainly call the local county or city housing authority, and discuss the matter with them. If they agree, they will fine the landlord.

      With that said, please know that I’m not a lawyer, not is this legal advice. You have the freedom to leave the property at the end of your lease, even though it might be difficult to move. Because it’s a rental, you’ll eventually move. If you think the landlord is dishonest, it might be time to make the move to somewhere else.

  • JJ

    Hello, I am renting a house and I will have two roommates living with me. one of my roommates will be on the lease with me my only concern is the other roommate is not 18 yet. he is 3 months away. the landlord is afraid legally that he will not be able to live with us until 18. is there such a thing as a verbal agreement until he is of age to sign the lease? now he has full consent and permision from his parents to move into this home. can somebody give me more info on this please?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi JJ,

      Thanks for your comment. Because he is still a minor, someone else could be responsible his actions. Further, depending on the details, his signature might not be legally binding in a lease situation – and thus the landlord’s concern.

      With that said, the landlord can do whatever he wants. Plenty of landlords have rented to minors in the past. It all depends on how much risk the landlord is willing to take on.

      Typically, in situations with minors, the landlord simply requires that the parents co-sign on the lease. Problem solved.

      • Tracey McCLure

        How does the landlord know whether this underage person is a runaway? Are they responsible for that? Could they get in trouble if the 17 year old has run away?

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Tracey,

          I’m not sure. That’s all part of the risk involved. If I were in the landlord’s shoes, I would require a co-signer. If that co-signer wasn’t their legal guardian, I would require proof of approval from their guardian. If they couldn’t show that, I’d probably notify the police of the situation and see if they have any suggestions.

        • Tracey McCLure

          This minor I have is wanting to rent a room, not sign a lease. I am concerned because he is only 17. I am a parent myself so it concerns me.

  • susan

    My daughter is approaching the end of a 13 month lease in an Orlando apartment where she has been paying $955 a month. The renewal lease is now asking for $1125 a month, which is an 18% increase. This seems excessive, and I’m wondering if she will be able to negotiate this down since the complex is owned by a large Management Group and she will be dealing with the front office. I am not sure who has authority to negotiate. I assist my daughter in that she has some learning difficulties and needs an advocate to help her understand the details. Thank you.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Susan,

      I would certainly suggest trying to negotiate. Many times, big apartments start with a large increase knowing that people will fight it. If they settle in the middle somewhere, they are usually still making money. However, they are under no obligation to lower the increase. The leasing agents might be the best people to talk to. If not, then the general manager would be able to help you. Good luck!

  • LYNN

    Hi
    My tenants has failed to pay the right amount in court registry and failled to provide reasons why to the plaintiff but did to the Judge after I filled for eviction.I went to get it today and i have to pay 5 $ for it .We went in mediation and me the landlord refuse to settle cause again
    the tenants could not pay the rent on time just as the last 14 months .Also never respect the time and appointment about the partial payments.I have been very patience but enough is enough.It’s time and energy consumming that i don’t have .I want them out .But i do know i have to follow the laws.So now i have to wait for the court hearing.Can i send my version to the Judge and try to have him to settle the writ of possession if the failled to pay the rent again tomorrow>I have a lot of prooves and back up text ,pictures to clarify who said the thuth .
    If the landlord is not the owner of the property ,can he represent the case at the court hearing or the owner have to be present or perhaps sign some type of forms that she agree that the landlord be in court .
    If the landlord can’t represent the case ,Do i absolutly need a lawyer ?
    Thank you and HAPPY HOLIDAYS :)

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Lynn

      You should check to see if the owner could grant the landlord a power of attorney – however, it would still be in your best interest to check with a lawyer.

  • Jg

    I have been living jn my apartment since 1992, my landlord just left a letter on my door that I have tl pah a pet deposit of $150 per dog. I have two. Can he kmplkmeng this now after 23 years? I have had these dogx for 7 years. He is asking for this in next months rent, also, he raised thd rent $50 in November!
    Thank you,
    Jg

    • Jg

      I didn’t realize so many words were misspelled, I apologize. My question was if my landlord could charge me $150 deposit for my two dogs after 23 years and I have them for 7 years. He lefg me a paper on my door. He is charges other tenanats too that have dogs and have been here for years.

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