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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272 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • donna

    I just recently signed a new lease due to expire 7/2015 and the property (maintenance and contractors) replace my a/c unit inside and the part outside but I don’t know if the contractor was licensed and I know that they didn’t obtain a permit from the county, I have been told that this is a breach of the lease and that I can move out with the required 60 days notice without penalty. Is this true?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Donna,

      what does your lease say? Does it in fact say that it is a violation if the landlord does not use licensed contractors to perform work?

      You have to check with the county to see if AC replacement requires a permit. In my experience, most replacement jobs do not.

      As with any lease violation the tenant or the landlord usually has an opportunity to fix the problem before termination is allowed.

      If you’re looking for an excuse to get out of your lease then you should probably talk to a lawyer to see what other loophole you could use.

      Alternatively, just try talking your landlord and see if he’ll let you out.

  • Noel Kinney

    My question is this, I have been in the house I am renting 1 year and 7 months, I signed a new lease in January 2014, no changes, they paid for lawn maintenance and I paid half on the first day of the month and half on the 15. They sold the house to a company that buys houses and rents them out. I was told that my lease would continue the same but now that they have possession of the house they are telling me that they are going to increase my rent by another 150.00 a month (already pay 1700.00) and that I have to take care of the lawn and that my lease is no good and I have to sign another lease but not a 6 month but a 7 month lease. I have never been late with my rent I was told the lease follows the house in the sale were can I find this information in a legal format so I can present that to them. My rent is due now and for mid-month payment but they say I have to pay only once a month the full amount if I send them this payment which they have already accepted 2 checks from me then I cannot afford the 1st full payment. Help please

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Noel,

      I’m 99% sure that your lease is still valid. Yes, in almost every situation, your lease follows the house, not the owner…. unless the lease specifically says that it terminates upon sale of the home.

      They have to follow the rules of your existing lease, and cannot raise the rent until the lease expires.

      To get the specific law, or legal aid, you’ll need to talk to a lawyer. It might be worth it to you, to pay a lawyer $100, and ask him to write a letter to them, describing your rights. Don’t back down, just get legal help.

      I’m not a lawyer, rather just an experienced landlord.

  • Janice

    Hello

    I have been living in my condo for 3 years now and I gave my landloard 30 day notice due to having to move out 2 months before my lease ends.I offered to rent the unit out since landloard lives out of State however he is asking for much higher rent and unit is not getting rented.Yesterday I received a call from my landlord asking that I make August payment and I simply told him that I couldn’t do that. In my lease contract it states that to get deposit back I need to have carpet professionally cleaned and tile as well ,when I asked him when I get this done and have the until move in ready when I move out he told me that he couldn’t tell me that he would return my deposit.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Janice,

      Thanks for your comment. It’s important to remember that you are the one trying to break the lease. According to Statute 83.595, the landlord has no obligation help you break the lease. Further, the landlord has no obligation to mitigate damages to you or allow you to re-rent it to release you from your obligation.

      My non-legal suggestion to you is to pay your rent every month (IN FULL) until the landlord tells you that you are released from the contract or your lease expires (whichever comes first). If your lease says you need to have the carpet cleaned, then you’ll need to have it done. The reason he can’t guarantee your full deposit is because he hasn’t performed the move-out inspection yet. He’ll need to have legitimate damages to withhold any portion of the deposit – which could include physical property damage, or missing rent. If you fail to pay rent for the full lease term, you can expect to get sued for whatever the deposit doesn’t cover.

      Keep in mind, I’m just a landlord, and NOT a lawyer. This is not legal advice, so if you really feel like you have a right to get out of your lease, and not pay rent, you should talk to a locally licensed attorney to try and find a loophole.

      I’m sorry that my advice is not in your favor, but it is what it is.

    • Cassie

      Janice, all I can say is you should have watched Judge Judy on TV last night. It was this type of story. Judge Judy cleaned the clock of a woman who broke the lease. She moved in with her boyfriend, then had a friend take over her rented apartment. But that friend moved out after 2 months. Now the woman thinks she does not have to pay rent on her former apartment because her friend broke her verbal promise, and she just doesn’t have the money herself and has a bunch of kids. Judge Judy gave her no sympathy.

  • Amanda

    Our lease was set to expire on 5/31/2014, but our apartment manager has a disability and wrote on the paper that our lease was from 6/1/13-5/31/13. We did not give 30 day’s notice in writing, but my husband verbally notified her that at the end of our lease we would be moving into our habitat for humanity home, which we were buying in April. We were out of our rental house by 5/30/14, so why is she trying to charge an extra month’s rent? Also, our carpet was supposed to be replaced before we moved in but she couldn’t get it done by the time we needed to be moved in so we told her just to have it cleaned and not worry about replacing it and she’s now trying to charge us for replacing the carpet, like we’re the ones who ruined that carpet when it was pretty much destroyed when we moved in. Also, she’s trying to charge us for unpaid rent, when we paid rent every month that we lived there. Is this legal? Should we refuse to pay and just go to small claims court?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Amanda,

      Obviously, I can’t give you legal advice, which is what you are asking for. Only lawyers can do that.

      However, if I were in your shoes, I would go to small claims court. It seems as if the landlord’s claim is wrongful, and I’d be willing to voice my opinion in court. However, I would also need proof of my claims, such as email conversations, and photos of the carpet.

      My suggestion is to talk to a lawyer to get definitive advice.

  • Robin

    Do you discuss commercial rentals? My question is: If a lease does not state the date or number of days past the due date that a late charge will be applied. And, before invoicing the late fee a time was not mentioned. Does it have to be paid?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Robin,

      I can’t speak to commercial leases. However, typically with residential leases, if a late fee is not mentioned at all in the lease, then I don’t see how a landlord can arbitrarily charge one. The rules of the game have to be spelled out in the lease before everyone starts to play.

  • Marcia

    The house we rent out had an AC leak that caused the floors in the kitchen and family room to buckle and they need to be replaced. As the landlords, we have acted swiftly to get the leak fixed, the floors dried and the insurance process going. Our tenants are asking us to reduce their rent for the first moment of inconvenience (when the floors buckled). They have renters insurance and they have asked that we pay their deductible if it applies. I think their renter’s insurance should pay for lodging for the week they will need to leave the house when the floors are being stained but they have not confirmed that. I would not expect rent for the time they are not in the house of course. Before that time, for a couple weeks, they will have access to all the essentials of the kitchen but there will be a temporary wall set up and the family room will be off limits. Also the family room furniture will have to be moved out so it will take up their living room space. They seem to be asking for everything so I am trying to understand what we are obligated to pay for and also what would be the right thing to do. Thank you for your help.

    • Cassie

      My lease requires renters insurance. Some require liability in addition to property. It covers all that stuff like tenant’s living expenses if damage requires moving out. I asked my agent if I could be sued by a tenant or other condo owner for their deductibles should my unit cause damage. He said I had good liability insurance and was ‘good to go’, meaning that should take care of it.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Marcia,

      These situations are always tricky. As a landlord, I would still expect to rent to come from somewhere. This sounds more like an issue for your home insurance, assuming you’ve told the insurance company that it’s a rental home. Your policy should have something called “Fair Rental Income Protection”, which continues to pay rent when something happens that displaces the tenants.

      Here’s some helpful info: http://www.landlordology.com/6-clauses-in-landlord-insurance-policy/

      Also, I’m not trying to second guess you, but do you “have” to replace the floor now? If the warping isn’t that bad, can you just wait until you are between tenants, and do it then? Perhaps the current tenants will put up with it if you give them a small discount on rent. Further, I don’t believe you have to fix it unless it’s a danger to someone, or an issue of habitability. If it’s just ugly damage, then you have no obligation to do anything . As a good landlord, I think you should fix it, but you have no obligation to fix it unless its creating a hazard. Money doesn’t grow on trees and independent landlords should time their repairs appropriately. It might save you thousands of dollars to do the repair later.

      • Marcia

        It just dawned on me yesterday that I did not have to fix the entire floor so I appreciate you saying what was not coming to me automatically. They are not a hazard and while they are still slightly buckled it is cosmetic. I am just going to have some areas patched and wait until the renters are out to fix it fully. I think they would prefer them fixed because it is a nice house but they can’t have it both ways (totally fixed with no inconvenience). I appreciate the insurance link. Insurance does know it is a rental but I don’t know the right questions to ask so this is very helpful!

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Marcia!

          Great! I’m glad you have it figured out. Sometimes, throwing a rug over it is a great temporary fix!

          Also, a skilled flooring company can replace just the section that was damaged. Sometimes you can’t even tell the difference between the old and new pieces.

      • Marcia

        It turns out the floors do have to be torn out and replaced because they are not drying fully underneath. My floor guy said it should take 2 weeks and they would need to vacate it for a week. My insurance apparently came up with the same conclusion because they provided for half a month’s rent for loss of income and I told the tenants I would pass that on to them. They said it was not nearly enough because they have two small children and it will be a major inconvenience to them. I said that they could write a letter explaining what they expected and I would submit it to my insurance company. Whatever they will pay, I am willing to pass on. Otherwise they should pursue their tenant’s insurance or they are able to break the lease. Does that sound like I am doing the right thing? Thank you for your opinion.

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Marcia,

          It sound like you did the right thing.

          My only red flag is that it appears that you (your insurance) are paying for their temporary housing AND not forcing them to pay rent during that time. It’s usually one or the other.

          If the lease is not being terminated, then the landlord has to pay for their temp housing during the repairs, but the tenants still pay rent like normal (since the lease is still active). A good landlord would also throw in some extra cash for their inconvenience and incidentals, but is not obligated to. Only if the lease is terminated do they get to forego paying rent. The name of the game is rent = housing. As long as you are providing housing (albeit temporary) they should still pay rent. You are letting them have their cake and eat it too. Although the stress is probably giving them heartburn, is a small price to pay for living rent-free for a few weeks.

          I’m not a lawyer, but this is how the lease generally works provided that there are not any state or local laws to the contrary. Again, just my non-legal opinion.

  • Donna Lene

    My fiance and I recently attempted to lease an apartment. The complex required us to pay an application fee of $25 each and an administrative fee of $25 each, a total of $100. In the event we were not approved, the administrative fees would be refunded, $50. We were informed on 7/2 that we were not approved and told that we could pick-up our refund possibly as soon as 7/5. On 7/7 I attempted to pick-up the refund and the employee looked through the manager’s desk and said that she didn’t see it and that she “guessed” that the manager had written it yet and to check back in a few days. On 7/12, I again attempted to pick-up our refund and was told by the manager that they had not received it from their management company and that it can take as long as 2 weeks. I told them it had already been a week and a half. I was then told by the agent that she would call me as soon as it got there. I confirmed that she still had my phone number. I’ve yet to receive a phone call. It is now 7/20 and I will be going there again today. What remedy do I have if I’m given another excuse?
    Thank you.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Donna

      Believe it or not, the general manager has the authority to write checks and handle small issues like this. You’re just working with a bad property management company. If they keep giving you the run-around, you can file a formal complaint with the Better Business Bureau and they will try to resolve it on your behalf. Otherwise, you could add up all your expenses, including gas for the multiple trips and then take them to small claims court.

  • Jenna Coppola

    I live in the state of Florida and am trying to decide on whether to sign a one or two year commercial lease. If I sign a 1 year lease is there any protection on how much the landlord can raise it after my lease is up and I want to sign another year lease?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jenna

      I wish I could help but I haven’t researched commercial lease law. I do know with residential leases, the easiest way to secure a price for 2 years is to sign a 2 year lease.

  • Susan

    Our landlord after 5 years has given us our 2nd lease agreement. We were not able to receive one because they lived in Spain and did not provide us with one, which means it has been a verbal agreement. In this agreement, it states I am not allowed to have my dog which I have had for over 5 years.My landlord has rented out an apartment close to mine since last week Thursday and has been knocking on my door everyday. If there is no answer he will stand by the door and look through the window to check if anyone is home. I felt quite insulted and uncomfortable by this. My landlord had also brought up to my attention that he would like to do some yard work and would let me know when he would do it.

    On Monday morning, I received a phone call from my daughter which was very scared and crying saying there was a man in our yard and she was not sure who it was. My husband quickly arrived home and told the landlord that he did not have the right to come into the property with my consent or without me being home. His reply was ” I own it, so i can do whatever it is I want”. My husband let him know that he did not agree on a time with us and that he could not come into the property when he felt like it. This made my landlord very upset and he replied with “I want you out in 30 days”. Knowing that we needed this in writing my husband let him know. Later that night, my landlord knocked on my door with a typed letter saying that we must be out by September 1.

    I do not believe we were wrong in telling him that he was not allowed to come into the property without our permission.

    Is there any law in him wanting us out in 30 days? I feel like this is retaliation for us not letting him come into the property when he wants.

    Please help I am in desperate need!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Susan,

      Both you and your landlord are partially correct.

      Though the landlord can NOT just “do whatever he wants”, he doesn’t however need your consent to enter the premises. He is required by statute 83.53(2) to give 12 hours notice, unless otherwise agreed upon. The link to the statute is in the article above. So, if he gives proper notice, he can come over and enter the premises without your consent.

      In your comment, you didn’t say what type of agreement you had, but I suspect it is a simple month-to-month since the original one ended, and you never signed a new one. In Florida, a month-to-month lease can be terminated with only 15 days prior to the end of any monthly period (83.57(3)). The link to the statute is in the article above.

      So yes, it seems as if he is justified to terminate your lease on Sept 1. Further, having an argument over entry is not a something that classifies his response as being retaliatory. The description of retaliation is is in the article above.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, nor should this be considered legal response. I always suggest talking to a lawyer before making a decision. Good luck, I’m sorry I didn’t have better news for you.

  • Brett Korth

    I have a rental home in Florida and would like to know if I can be added as an “Additional Insured” on my tenants renters policy. Is this possible?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Brett, you have to ask the insurance company. However, I’m not really sure what that would accomplish seeing how they won’t let you use it as a the primary insurance for building and liability coverage. Help me understand, because I don’t see the point.

  • Katie

    We signed a 6month lease(thankfully this will expire in October). Today we received a letter.. “Additional Terms of Lease Agreement. Rules that must be read and abided by”. Do we HAVE to sign this? Can he continue to add on to our lease as he sees fit?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Katie

      Usually, the landlord cannot add /change anything to the lease without your signature. However, sometimes the current lease does give a landlord the right to adjust utilities or make up house rules to help with the living arrangements. But usually things like price, dates, occupants, and your obligations cannot be changed at will by the landlord until the lease is up for renewal.

      If you are still unsure, please talk to a local attorney. I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

  • Prita Lal

    Hi
    I live in Lee county, FL and I signed a residential lease for a 2 bedroom duplex apartment. The lease says its a one year term beginning the day we moved in, but for the end date it says “month to-month 2013.” We moved out of the apartment 8 months after moving in. The landlord says he doesn’t have to refund our security deposit because he says we broke the lease. I pointed out the month to month part. He says now that he’ll think about refunding the full deposit and will get back to me.

    He says he puts month to month as the end date on his leases to make it easier to get rid of trouble tenants, as per the advice of his lawyer.

    Is it legal for a lease to be one year for the tenant, but month to month for the landlord? It doesn’t seem to make sense. If you could point out any FL statutes that govern this feel free to do so.

    Many thanks in advance,
    Prita

  • Matt

    Hello, I have question regarding a leased property in a housing community. I renewed a lease with my landlord who hasn’t turned it over to the housing association. The lease I signed was solely in my name. The HOA requires that all tenants over the age of 18 are a) on the lease and b) undergo an annual background check.

    Since my partner was not on the lease I signed a new one has to be drafted before submitting it to the HOA. The landlord and his Realtor have known about this for several weeks and I still have not received an updated copy of the lease to sign. The HOA has attempted on two occasions to get a new copy of the lease. Both background check forms have been submitted to the HOA and processed.

    Since the lease was improperly drafted and not submitted to the HOA is it still a binding contract between me and the landlord when it hasn’t been recognized by the HOA?

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • ELGIN TUCKER

    HI MY APARTMENT HAS BEEN BROKENT INTO AND MY CAR ON DIFFERENT TIMES,I BROKE MY LEASE,THEY ARE TRYING TO SUE ME ,I GAVE THEM A NOTICE BEFORE I MOVED.WHAT DO I DO

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