Florida Landlord-Tenant Law

Florida has one of the highest populations of renters in the nation. Over 2.64 million of the 19 million people living in Florida are renters. That is 13.3% of the state’s population. Although the state has one of the highest populations of renters in the nation, Florida landlord-tenant law is not very detailed, creating a favorable renting environment for landlords.  

The flip side is that it may be hard to know what’s the best course of action to take as a landlord in Florida. In this guide, we will focus on the state’s landlord-tenant law, and outline some best practices that landlords in Florida should follow.

Florida Landlord-Tenant Law

Security Deposits Laws in Florida

Florida does not require security deposits, but if a landlord does take a security deposit, Florida has specific rules about how it should be held.

Landlords in Florida have three ways they can handle security deposits:

  • Landlords can hold the security deposit in a non-interest-bearing account until the lease is complete. The deposit cannot be commingled with the landlord’s assets.
  • Landlords can hold the security deposit in an interest-bearing account. The landlord must either pay the tenant 5% simple interest per year or 75% of the annualized average interest on the account. Deposits held in this manner also cannot be commingled with the landlord’s funds.
  • Landlords may also post a surety bond. Landlords may issue surety bonds for every rental unit owned, or they can issue a single surety bond for all of their units. If a landlord uses a surety bond for each rental unit, the bond must equal the amount of security deposit held or $50,000, whichever is less. If a landlord has 5 or more units, the landlord may hold a single security deposit for all its units with the Secretary of State. The surety bond must equal all the deposits the landlord is holding for all its tenants, or $250,000, whichever is less. When a landlord issues a surety bond for security deposits, he or she must pay 5% of simple interest on the security deposit to the tenant each year.

Is a security deposit receipt required in Florida?

If a landlord has five or more units, the landlord must either state the security deposit in the lease or issue a receipt within 30 days of receiving the security deposit.

If the landlord changes the location of the deposit, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing within 30 days of the change of location. The notice must state the name and address of the new bank that the deposit is held. The notice must be given in person or through the mail. The notice must also state whether the tenant will receive interest.

Even though the law does not require security deposits, landlords may still want to collect them. Security deposits test a tenant’s financial stability (their ability to make a large payment at the start of the lease). Security deposits also guarantee that landlords can recover some of their losses caused by damaged property and missed rent. In Florida, a landlord can withhold a security deposit for:

We surveyed our landlords in Florida and found that the majority collect a security deposit. Most landlords in Florida hold a security deposit that is equal to one month’s rent.

Security Deposit Amount in Florida

Can a landlord ever withhold part of the security deposit in Florida? 

In Florida, landlords normally withhold security deposits to cover unpaid rent or property damage. However, about a third of landlords have withheld deposit because a tenant ended the rental agreement early.

Reason for Withholding Security Deposit

Florida Breaking Lease

 

When must a landlord return the deposit by in Florida?

If a landlord has no reason to withhold the security deposit, the landlord must return the deposit within 15 days of the tenant moving out. If the landlord wants to claim the deposit, he or she has 30 days to send written notice to the tenant by certified mail. If the landlord does not notify the tenant of his or her claim within 30 days, the landlord can no longer withhold the tenant’s security deposit. The notice should state the following:

This is a notice of my intention to impose a claim for damages in the amount of {dollar amount} upon your security deposit, due to {reason for withholding deposit}. It is sent to you as required by s. 83.49(3), Florida Statutes. You are hereby notified that you must object in writing to this deduction from your security deposit within 15 days from the time you receive this notice, or I will be authorized to deduct my claim from your security deposit. Your objection must be sent to {landlord’s address}. 

Rental Agreement Laws in Florida

Landlords and tenants have the latitude to create the rental agreement that works best for them. There are not many requirements for rental agreements in Florida. Oral agreements are legal and enforceable in Florida, but if a rental agreement is over a year, it must be in writing.

Although oral agreements are enforceable in Florida, all communications between the landlord and tenant must be in writing. For example, if a tenant wanted the landlord to make repairs in a rental unit, the tenant must make that request in writing. Landlords must communicate with their tenants in writing also. So, if a landlord wanted access to a rental unit, the landlord would have to make that request to the tenant in writing.

We recommend using written agreements. It is easier to prove what the landlord and tenant agreed upon in a written agreement. If a rental dispute goes to court, it will be important to prove what the landlord and tenant agreed upon in order to prevail. Written agreements are the best way to prove the terms of the rental agreement.

Rentalutions has a Florida-specific rental agreement that includes all the necessary notices and disclosures based on your property’s address. Start your rental agreement here.

For more on leases, check out our Complete Guide to Rental Leases.

Lease Renewal in Florida

Unless the lease states otherwise, in Florida, the lease is presumed to terminate at the end of the rental term. However, if the lease does not have a specific termination date, the tenant must notify the landlord of his or her intention to terminate or continue the lease.

If the landlord does not want to rent to the tenant anymore after the lease is completed, the holdover tenant can be charged double the rent after the lease is completed. The required amount of notice is determined by the length of the rental agreement.

  • If it is a year-to-year rental, the tenant must notify the landlord 60 days before the end of rental agreement.
  • If it is a quarterly rental, the tenant must notify the landlord 30 days before the end of any quarterly period.
  • When the tenancy is month-to-month, the tenant must give the landlord 15 days’ notice before the end of any monthly period. (In Miami, the tenant must give the landlord 30 days’ notice before the end of the monthly period).
  • When the tenancy is week-to-week, the tenant must give the landlord seven days’ notice before the end of any weekly period.

Landlords must follow the same notice requirements as tenants. For example, if a landlord wants to end a year-to-year rental, the landlord must give the tenant 30 days’ notice that the landlord intends to terminate the tenancy at the end of the rental period.

Florida Laws on Repairs: Tenant’s Right, Landlord’s Duty

Landlords must keep their rental units in a condition that complies with state and local building and health codes. If there is no applicable building code, the landlord must keep the exterior and structural foundation in a condition that can withstand normal forces and loads.

The landlord must make sure screens are in reasonable condition; in fact, the landlord is required to repair screen damage once per year. Additionally, the landlord must make sure that the plumbing is in working order.

Landlords of apartment buildings have additional duties that landlords of single-family rental and duplexes do not have. Landlords of apartment buildings must install working smoke detectors in the rental unit. Additional responsibilities of apartment building landlords are below:

  • The extermination of vermin and pest from the rental unit
  • Replacing locks and keys
  • Garbage removal
  • Running water and hot water
  • Heat during the winter

The tenant and landlord could agree that the tenant would be responsible for some of the items above. However, unless the contract says otherwise, the landlord will be held responsible for the above repairs.

Tenants’ Rights Regarding the Landlord’s Duty to Repair

In Florida, tenants have two remedies they can use if their landlord does not maintain the unit in compliance with the rules stated above.

  • Tenants may end the rental agreement early without penalty.
  • Tenants may withhold rent proportional to the loss of the unit’s rental value.

Ending the Tenancy Early and Withholding Rent

Before a tenant may end the rental agreement early, the tenant must notify the landlord in writing about the conditions that are making the unit unlivable. The notice must state whether the tenant intends to move out if the repairs are not completed. The landlord has seven days to comply with the notice from the tenant. If the landlord does not comply, the tenant can end the rental agreement early.

If the conditions in the unit require repair but the unit is still livable, the tenant may withhold part of the rent pending repairs. However, the withheld portion of the rent must be proportional to the loss in value of the rental unit in its state of disrepair.

The tenant must notify the landlord of the defect and give the landlord at least seven days to comply. If the landlord does not comply, then the tenant can withhold part of the rent.

Florida Laws on Retaliation

The landlord cannot retaliate against a tenant for exercising their rights regarding the rental unit. This includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Filing a complaint with a government agency for health or building code violations
  • Participating in tenants’ organization
  • Notifying the landlord that he or she intends to move out or withhold rent if repairs are not completed within seven days

Examples of retaliatory acts include raising the rent, filing for eviction, and reducing services. A landlord can counter claims of retaliation by showing that an eviction is in good cause with a showing of:

  • Good faith actions for nonpayment of rent
  • A violation of the rental agreement or a violation of reasonable rules

Notice of Entry

In Florida, landlords may enter the rental unit from time-to-time to inspect the premises, make necessary or agreed on repairs, supply agreed on services, or to exhibit the unit.

Tenants cannot unreasonably deny their landlord access to the rental unit. However, landlords must provide the tenant with a reasonable amount of notice before entry. For a repair, the landlord must give the tenant 12-hour notice in writing. Repairs can be completed between 7:30 AM – 8:00 PM.

Although the law requires 12-hour notice, most landlords in Florida give their tenants at least 24-hour notice before entering the unit:

 

Notice of Entry in Florida

 
Keys, Locks, and Security Devices

Florida does not explicitly require landlords to replace keys and locks. However, as stated earlier, landlords that are not renting single-family homes or duplexes are expected to provide reasonable provisions regarding the repairs of keys and locks. Most landlords either replace the lock and key before a new tenant moves in, or replace keys and locks upon a tenant’s request. A minority of landlords in Florida do not replace keys and locks at all.

Do you change the locks on a unit before a new tenant moves into the unit?

Changing Locks in Florida

Rental Payment, Late Fees, and Grace Periods

Florida does not have any laws restricting the form of rent payments or late fees. Also, there is not any form of rent control, and there is not a grace period imposed by law. These provisions will be controlled by the rental agreement that the landlord and tenant create. Learn more about late fees and grace periods.

Florida Laws on Eviction

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Landlords in Florida can evict tenants for these reasons:

  • Material breach of the rental agreement, or failing to pay rent
  • Intentional destruction, damage, or misuse of the landlord or tenants’ property
  • Continued unreasonable disturbance

If the reason why a landlord wants to evict a tenant is not something that the tenant should be given an opportunity to correct, then the landlord can serve a notice requesting the tenant to move out in seven days. The notice should include the following language:

You are advised that your lease is terminated effective immediately. You shall have seven days from the delivery of this letter to vacate the premises. This action is taken because (cite the noncompliance).

If the issue is something that the tenant should get an opportunity to fix, such as parking in another tenant’s parking spot, then the notice should state that the tenant has seven days to fix the issue. If the tenant does not correct the issue, then the landlord could proceed with the eviction. This notice should say something similar to the following:

You are hereby notified that (cite the noncompliance). Demand is hereby made that you remedy the noncompliance within seven days of receipt of this notice or your lease shall be deemed terminated, and you shall vacate the premises upon such termination. If this same conduct or conduct of a similar nature is repeated within 12 months, your tenancy is subject to termination without further warning and without your being given an opportunity to cure the noncompliance.

Landlord-Tenant disputes in Florida are often resolved in favor of the landlord. Of our landlords surveyed in Florida, 78.3% of them have been to court for a landlord-tenant dispute. However, they win most of the time. Of the landlords we surveyed in Florida, 80% stated that they won in court.

Three-Day Notice

If a landlord wants to evict a tenant for failure to pay rent, then the day after rent is due the landlord must send the tenant a written notice stating that the tenant must pay rent within the next three business days or move out. The notice should state something similar to the following:

You are hereby notified that you are indebted to me in the sum of ____ dollars for the rent and use of the premises [address of leased premises, including county], Florida, now occupied by you and that I demand payment of the rent or possession of the premises within 3 days (excluding Saturday, Sunday, and legal holidays) from the date of delivery of this notice to wit: on or before the ___ day of ___, (year) .(landlord’s name, address and phone number).

If the landlord accepts partial payment, he does not lose the right to evict the tenant. However, after the landlord accepts partial payment, the landlord must issue another Three-Day Notice with the new amount of rent due to the landlord.

Landlords should screen their tenants to ensure that rent is paid on time. Use Rentalutions to make paying rent easy with online rent payments.

Pet Laws

Florida does not require landlords to allow pets in their units. However, the federal law states that people with certain disabilities have a right to request a waiver for a ‘no pets’ policy if they need a service animal for medical reasons.

Required Florida Rental Agreement Notices

Lead Paint: If the property was constructed before 1978, federal law requires landlords to disclose the presence of known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the dwelling before the tenant signs the lease or rental agreement. The landlord also must give the tenant a copy of the federal government’s pamphlet, Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home.

Radon: Landlords must notify new tenants the following notice regarding radon:

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.

Oft-Cited Florida Landlord and Tenant Laws

Below you will find references to areas of the Florida rules and regulations that govern rental properties and issues related to landlord-tenant law.

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.49

  • Landlords that take security deposits have three ways to handle security deposits: non-interest-bearing accounts, interest-bearing accounts, and surety bonds.
  • Security deposits cannot be commingled.
  • Landlords can choose between paying 5% simple interest per year or 75% of the annualized interest of the account the deposit is in.
  • Landlords can issue surety bonds for each rental unit, or if they have 5 or more units landlords can get a single surety bond with the Secretary of State.
  • For either surety bond option, landlords still must pay tenants 5% simple interest on their security deposit.

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.51

  • Landlords must keep rental units compliant with state and local building and health codes.
  • Where there are no applicable health codes, landlords must keep the rental unit in a condition where it could withstand normal forces, must make sure plumbing is working and must repair screens at least once per year.
  • Landlords that are not leasing single-family houses or duplexes must provide reasonable provisions for the extermination of vermin and pests.
  • Landlords must also provide reasonable provisions for locks and keys, garbage, running water, and clean and safe common areas.

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.53

  • Tenants cannot unreasonably deny the landlord access to the rental unit.
  • The landlord can access the rental unit for repairs, agreed upon services, and displaying the unit to prospective tenants or buyers.
  • For repairs, the landlord must provide the tenant with 12 hours of notice.
  • Repairs can be completed between 7:30 AM – 8:00 PM.

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.56

  • Landlord can give tenant seven days’ notice of termination of lease if tenant intentionally damages the unit or causes unreasonable disturbances.
  • The landlord can terminate the lease if the tenant breaches the rental agreement and does not cure the breach. The landlord must give the tenant seven days to cure the breach.
  • The landlord can terminate the lease for failure to pay rent. The landlord must issue a Three-Day Notice to tenant.
  • Even if tenant partially pays rent, the landlord does not lose the right to evict the tenant.

Florida Landlord-Tenant Law Resources

Below you will find helpful Florida landlord-tenant law resources:

Consumer Pamphlet: Rights and Duties of Tenants and Landlords

Landlord-Tenant Law in Florida

The 2017 Florida Statutes: Chapter 83 – Landlord and Tenant

Disclosure Attachments

Disclaimer

This article is designed to convey information, and not to provide legal advice. You should not consider any information in this article to be legal advice. Readers should consider obtaining specific legal advice from an attorney about any decision or course of action contemplated.

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