Knowing the fundamentals of the landlord-tenant law in Florida is vital if you want a healthy relationship with your tenant. Each law may vary from state to state, so logically, a rental agreement must be unique to a specific rental case. For more information on landlord-tenant laws in Florida, keep reading.
What is the Landlord-Tenant Law?
These laws and agreements for landlords and tenants are shown in the Florida Statutes. You can find them in Part II, Chapter 83, inside the Florida Landlord Tenant Act.
A lease agreement can be arranged orally or in written form. A written rental agreement is more recommended than an oral one since you can have documented proof of everything you and the tenant agreed upon.
Regardless of the type of agreement that a landlord and tenant make, both their rights and responsibilities are bound by the Florida Landlord-Tenant Laws.
What Does a Lease Agreement in Florida Have to Include?
Lease agreements may differ slightly in some terms, but some details should always be considered at the time of writing the agreement and discussing it with the tenant.
Overall, this is what a lease agreement in Florida should always have to avoid future issues:
- A list of the people involved in the lease.
- A detailed description of the property, its location and appliances.
- Renting conditions.
- Entry conditions and rights.
- Policy for repairs, damages, and modifications to the property.
- Security deposit explanation.
- Smoking, pet, and other additional policies.
The most important thing to include in any agreement is lease dates, fees, late fees, and early termination policies. These are the most common causes of misunderstandings and confusion among tenants and landlords, so it's crucial to explain them thoroughly.
Landlord and Tenant Duties and Responsibilities in Florida
The first thing that's important to consider in a rental agreement is both the landlord and tenant's responsibilities and duties. The landlord usually decides these terms according to their personal requirements and state laws. However, they can also be discussed with the tenant to come to an agreement before signing.
Here's an overview of landlord-tenant responsibilities in a rental agreement.
According to Florida statutes, the landlord may have different duties depending on the type of dwelling unit they're renting.
When it comes to apartment leases, the landlord should ensure that the following conditions are met throughout the duration of the lease:
- Apartment keys.
- Availability of garbage disposal bins or facilities.
- Safe conditions in all common areas.
- Complying with applicable building, housing, and health codes according to Florida law; if these codes are not available, then the landlord must provide good plumbing conditions.
- Provision of functioning appliances.
- Requirements for the extermination of any wood-destroying organisms, mice, rats, etc...
It's important to note that the landlord is not required by Florida law to pay for appliances, but they can do it if they consider it appropriate.
Single-Family Home or Duplex Leases
In these cases, the landlord shall meet the following requirements:
- Complying with applicable building, housing, and health codes according to Florida law.
- If these codes are not available, the landlord must keep the dwelling unit in good condition.
To maintain a proper landlord-tenant relationship, the tenant must do the following things:
- Pay rent on time.
- Ensure that neither they nor their guests disturb the neighbors in any way.
- Keep the fixtures and appliances in good condition and repair.
- Operate all the facilities and appliances reasonably.
- Get rid of any type of trash and waste to keep the rental property clean.
- Comply with Florida building, housing, and health codes (if applicable).
Rent Payments in Florida
To this day, Florida landlord-tenant laws don't require any specific terms regarding payment of rent or fees. This means that any payment conditions need to be arranged between the landlord and the tenant.
The only thing that the Florida landlord-tenant laws say regarding payments is that the tenant must pay rent on time according to the rental property agreement. If the landlord fails to comply with general property repairs, tenant rights allow them to withhold rent.
If this happens, tenants must provide a written notice at least seven days before withholding the payment. If the landlord still doesn't fix the problem in that time period, the tenant has the right to impose a claim. These terms can be found in the "Defenses to Action for Rent or Possession" clause in the Florida statutes.
Nonpayment of Rent
On the other hand, if the tenant fails to pay the rent for other reasons, the landlord can give written notice to the tenant asking them to pay or surrender the premises in a specific period. If the tenant fails to pay the rent, the landlord can look for civil action for possession of the dwelling unit.
Grace Periods and Late Fees
There are no grace periods or late fee conditions imposed by Florida landlord-tenant laws. This means that it's up to the landlord to impose these conditions and discuss them with the tenant.
Unit Repairs in Florida
According to Florida landlord-tenant laws, the landlord must provide repairs for any damaged appliance or fixture that voids Florida's warranty of habitability, which explains that landlords must give proper maintenance to the rental unit to keep it in safe and fair housing conditions.
In the case of these repairs, the tenant shall notify the landlord about the issue and give them at least seven days to fix it. If the property isn't safe for the tenant, the landlord has to provide the necessary help; otherwise, the tenant may seek legal advice, withhold partial rent, or terminate the lease.
Security Deposit Laws in Florida
A security deposit is one of the most common requirements in all lease agreements. Florida residential landlord-tenant laws (Chapter 83, section 49) explain that the landlord must not use the security deposit funds in any way until those funds are due to them.
Landlords have three options to store the security deposit funds that they get from the tenant:
- Purchasing a surety bond.
- Placing the money in an interest-bearing account.
- Placing the money in a non-interest bearing account.
According to Florida landlord-tenant law, there's no limit on the number of money landlords can charge in their security deposits. Landlords are required to return a partial o complete amount of the security deposit within 15 days of the tenant moving out.
If the landlord fails to return the security deposit within those 15 days, the tenant may seek legal help.
Lease Termination/Eviction Conditions in Florida
A landlord or tenant may terminate the rental agreement for the following reasons:
- The lease reaches its end date.
- The tenant misses rental payments frequently.
- The tenant doesn't comply with the requirements stated in the agreement.
- The tenant intentionally damages the landlord's personal property.
- The tenant needs to engage in military service.
Regardless of the cause, the landlord must give the tenant a notice of eviction. A landlord may draft a different type of notice depending on the reason for eviction.
See our full guide on the eviction process and laws for Florida.
Termination With Cause
When the landlord has a cause for terminating the agreement, these are the most common types of notices:
- Seven Days Notice to Cure: When the tenant breaches the agreement, but the issue can be fixed, the landlord can give a seven-day notice to do it.
- Three Days Notice to Confirm Rent Payment: The landlord may give a tenant three days to pay rent if they fail to do it in the stipulated time period. If the tenant still doesn't pay, the landlord may ask them to leave the unit.
- Seven Days Notice to Quit: In this case, the landlord is giving the tenant seven days to leave the premises without any chance of fixing the problem.
Termination Without Cause
A landlord may terminate an agreement without cause depending on the type of arrangement:
- Fixed-Term Arrangement: The landlord has to wait until the lease ends before terminating it.
- Monthly-Payment Agreement: The landlord can give the tenant 15 days to leave the unit.
Following these clauses carefully is important if you want to have a safe and understandable agreement between you and your tenant. It's still advisable that you seek legal advice before writing the lease agreements.
What notice is necessary if the property was built before 1978?
If the property was built before 1978, the landlord must provide notice of areas with lead-based paint or Radon gas.
What is the Florida Fair Housing Act?
This housing act explains that landlords shall not create unfair rules, retaliate, limit the unit's appliances, or discriminate against the tenant for any specific characteristics, such as pregnancy conditions, race, color, religion, etc.
Is landlord retaliation allowed in Florida?
Retaliation is prohibited if the tenant is exercising their rights regarding the agreement. Any action of revenge from the landlord to the tenant can be considered retaliation and may have legal repercussions and penalties.
Is the landlord allowed to enter the property in Florida?
Florida laws require the landlord to notify their tenants if they're planning on entering the premises. Landlords are also required to give reasonable notice before entering.
Overall, a landlord may enter their rental unit if any of the following conditions are met:
If the tenant gives consent to the landlord.
If the tenant is absent from the premises for a period of time equal to one-half the time for periodic rental payments.
If the tenant withholds rent payments without reason.