Florida Landlord Tenant Laws You Should Know

It’s difficult to know all of the tenant-landlord rights and laws that are applicable in every state you own in. It’s difficult to know them even in one state. However, this guide details Florida’s landlord-tenant laws in a much simpler language than the Florida State Statutes.

Florida is a popular location for out of state investors. Whether you’re renting out a beach home, a house close to local attractions or even a residential property, it’s important to know the laws of this state so that you can follow them.

Residential Tenancies

This section of the “Florida Landlord Tenant Laws You Should Know” pertains to residential tenancies. Meaning, tenancies where the tenant is living within the unit. To learn more about commercial tenancies, click here.

Finding a Tenant

The rush to fill a vacant unit with the perfect tenant is one of the most stressful parts of being a landlord. Of course, you want a tenant that will last you a long time. But at the same time, you need to fill your unit fast or you could lose more money than it’s worth to find a good tenant. While you’re rushing, it’s important to make sure you are following the rules laid out in Florida Statutes. Following the law can save you from costly legal expenses.

Military Tenant

If a service member applies to live in one of your units, you must inform them in writing of your decision within a 7-day period. If you deny them, you need to include the reason for the denial.[1] If you do not let them know that you’ve denied their application within the 7-day period, you have to rent your apartment to them, so long as they completely fill out the application and comply with the lease.

Leasing to Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking

You cannot refuse to enter into a rental agreement, refuse to negotiate for a rental unit, make a unit unavailable or retaliate in the rental of a dwelling for any of the following reasons:[2]

  • The tenant is the victim of actual or threatened domestic/dating/sexual violence or stalking.
  • The tenant has previously ended a rental agreement because of actual or threatened domestic/dating/sexual violence or stalking in the case that they were a victim. (However, you can require the tenant to provide you with proof of the incident.)
What You Cannot Put in the Contract

Your lease becomes invalid if you include provisions in your lease to:

  • Waive your tenants’ rights, remedies, or any other obligations you may have for them.
  • Limit or get rid of liabilities that you have to them or that they have to you.

If you include either of the above unnoticed and your tenant suffers damages as a result, your tenant may recover those damages from you.

The Fair Housing Act

According to the Fair Housing Act, you cannot ask a potential tenant questions about race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, any disability, age, or medical history. You cannot deny a tenant rent because of any of these reasons or because of any personal characteristics, like appearance or sexual orientation.[3] The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from discrimination in any process pertaining to finding a home.

Landlords are restricted from the following:[4]

  • Refusing to rent or sell a home.
  • Making housing unavailable.
  • Setting different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental of a home.
  • Providing different housing services or facilities.
  • Falsely saying a home is unavailable for inspection, sale, or rental.
  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on national origin, religion, sex, disability, or the presence of children.
  • Threatening, coercing, intimidating or interfering with someone exercising their fair housing rights.

Additionally, if your tenant has a physical or mental disability, you must:

  • Pay to make reasonable modifications to the property so that the tenant can use the home. You can require that the tenant change it back at the end of the lease.
  • Make reasonable accommodations to rules, policies, practices or services, if the tenant needs them to live in the home.

Disclosures

Florida law requires you to give your tenant your address when they move in. You must also tell your tenant if there is any lead-based paint in your unit.

Your Address

You are required to give your tenants your name and address so that they may send notices and demands to
you.[5]

If you move, you need to let your tenants know your new residence. If you purchase a new property, the previous landlord must give the tenants your name and address.

Lead-Based Paint

While you’re not required to remove lead-based paint, you are required to let the tenant know that it is there. If your property was built before 1978, you need to tell the tenant that it’s very likely that the unit has lead-based paint before they sign the lease. As a landlord, you are obligated to tell your tenants about this before they sign the lease.

You need to provide the tenant with:[6]

  • A pamphlet about identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards.
  • Any information about other units or common spaces that have lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards
Radon Gas

You must inform your tenant through at least one document prior to them signing a contract of the following:[7]

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.

This is true whether or not your property has radon.

Fire Safety

If your property is more than three stories high, you must tell your tenants about the availability, or lack of availability, for fire protection when they initially move in.[8]

Information About a Victim of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking

You need to treat any information given to you by a victim of domestic/dating/sexual violence or stalking as confidential. You cannot enter it into a database of information shared by others or tell anyone about the incident or put the tenant’s forwarding address online or disclose it to anyone after they move.

You may only provide the information to one of your employees or agents for legitimate business purposes if it is requested in writing by the tenant or the tenant’s legal guardian, if it is required for a judicial proceeding, or if it is otherwise required by the law.

If you violate this provision, you are liable for $1,000 for damages and court costs, including attorney fees, unless you can prove that the violation was not committed in bad faith. If you violate the provision more than once, you are once again liable for the same damages.

You cannot waive the rights of victims of domestic/dating/sexual violence or stalking in your lease.

Security Deposits

You cannot charge a person covered by the Fair Housing Act a higher deposit that you would any other person. There is no limit to the amount you can charge for a deposit in Florida.

Holding a Security Deposit

You can choose to hold the money in an interest-bearing account or a non-interest-bearing account, but you cannot mix it with your own personal money.[9]

If you put the money in an interest-bearing account, you must give the tenant 75 percent of the interest earned or five percent interest each year, which is up to your discretion. Or you can put the money in a surety bond executed by you and authorized by a surety company authorized to do business in the state, in which case, you need to pay your tenant five percent interest annually.

Within 30 days of receiving the deposit, you need to give your tenant written notice of where you’ve put their money. Additionally, if you change the location of the money, you must let the tenant know, in writing, within 30 days. The written notice must:

  • Be given in person or by mail to the tenant.
  • Include the name and address of where the advance rent or security deposit is held or state the information for the surety bond.
  • Include whether the tenant gets interest on the deposit.
  • Contain the following disclosure:

Your lease requires payment of certain deposits. The landlord may transfer advance rents to the landlord’s account as they are due and without notice. When you move out, you must give the landlord your new address so that the landlord can send you notices regarding your deposit. The landlord must mail you notice, within 30 days after you move out, of the landlord’s intent to impose a claim against the deposit. If you do not reply to the landlord stating your objection to the claim within 15 days after receipt of the landlord’s notice, the landlord will collect the claim and must mail you the remaining deposit, if any.

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 who wins the case will be awarded costs and attorney fees payable to the losing party.

This disclosure is basic. Please refer to PART II of Chapter 83, Florida Statutes to determine your legal rights and obligations.

This does not apply if you rent less than five units. Not giving written notice is not an excuse for your tenant not to pay rent.

Returning the Deposit

When your tenant moves out, you have 15 days to return the security deposit and any interest earned on it. Or you need to give the tenant written notice within 30 days to their last known mailing address that you plan to make a claim on the deposit and why you plan to do so. The notice needs to include the following statement:

This is a notice of my intention to impose a claim for damages in the amount of_____ upon your security deposit, due to______. 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 address)__.

If you do not give the required notice within the 30-day period, you forfeit the right to impose a claim upon the security deposit and may not seek a setoff against the deposit but may file an action for damages after the return of the deposit. Unless the tenant disagrees with your claim within 15 days of your written notice, you can deduct your claim from the deposit and return the balance to the tenant within 30 days. If the tenant takes you court to get the deposit back, whichever party wins the case gets to receive their court fees, plus a reasonable attorney fee.

You can claim money from your tenant’s security deposit for cleaning the unit to the level it was at before you rented out, to cover unpaid utility fees or rental obligations, to cover unpaid rent, to undo changes that your tenant made to the property — like painting the walls or installing shelves — and repairing damages not caused by normal wear and tear.

You cannot charge your tenant for damages caused by normal wear and tear. These include things like dirty blinds, rugs worn thin, spotting on the carpet, and other damages that naturally occur when someone lives in a property.

If the tenant leaves the property before the end of the lease, does not give you written notice and does not tell you where they will be moving, you do not need to give tenant written notice of your intention to keep part of the deposit. However, your tenant still has a right to the deposit, should they claim it. If you purchase a property with a tenant, you need to be sure the tenant’s deposit and earned interest is transferred to you.

Legally, you have a right to collect that money from the previous landlord, and, legally, you will be held accountable for returning it to the tenant at lease-end. However, the presumption is limited to one month’s rent, if you really did not receive the security deposit.

In cases when you need to give the tenant interest from the security deposit, pay them directly once a year or credit their rent once a year, you do not need to return interest to a tenant who wrongfully violates a lease.

Collecting Rent

Your tenant should pay rent without demand or notice.[10] Therefore, your tenants have to pay you rent every month at the beginning of each payment period without you reminding them.

Unless the lease says a specific duration of the tenancy, the lease is from pay period to pay period. If the tenant pays weekly, it’s week-to-week, if your tenant pays yearly, the lease is year-to-year. If your tenant does not pay rent because they are your employee, then the lease is paycheck-to-paycheck. So, if you pay bi-weekly, then the lease is bi-weekly.

If your tenant pays you with a check that bounces, you can charge your tenant a service fee of 5 percent of what they owe.[11] Your tenant must pay you within 30 days of a written demand or be liable for triple the amount owed in damages or $50, whichever amount is greater. The tenant would then owe you the amount the check was worth, the service fee, and damages. You must deliver the written demand for payment by certified or first-class mail.

Problem Solving

Problems are a normal part of being a landlord. While some are custom, like making repairs, others are more complex, like a breach of contract. Simple or complex, most problems you’ll run into have a distinct protocol you should follow to abide by Florida laws.

Tenant Privacy

You can enter your tenant’s unit periodically for reasonable causes, like:[12]

  • Inspections
  • Repairs
  • Decorating
  • Improvements
  • Showing the unit to potential buyers, tenants, workers, contractors, or mortgagees

While you can enter for any of the above reasons, you must have your tenant’s consent before doing so. However, you wouldn’t need your tenant’s consent if there is an emergency, if the tenant is not around for 1/2 a payment period or if the tenant is unreasonably withholding consent. You can also enter the property at any time to protect or preserve your unit.

When you’re entering to make repairs, you need to give your tenant reasonable notice (i.e. at least 12 hours) and make the repairs between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. You cannot abuse your right to enter the property or use it to harass your tenant.

Breach of Contract

If the tenant breaches contract, you can do one of four things:[13]

  1. Treat the rental agreement as over. Close the account, retake possession of the property and remove any future liability from the tenant.
  2. Try to rent it to someone else to cover the tenant’s rent. You can then hold the tenant liable for any rent you do not recover. In this scenario, you are taking possession of the unit on behalf of the tenant.
  3. You can charge your tenant a liquidation fee (i.e. charge them for the breach), if the contract includes a provision regarding such a charge. Or you can charge them a termination fee for ending the contract earlier than planned. These must have been agreed to in an addendum to the rental contract.
  4. Do nothing. Keep holding your tenant accountable for any rent that comes due.
Retaliatory Conduct

You cannot increase rent, decrease services, bring or threaten to bring an action for possession, or other civil action to a tenant for the following reasons:[14]

  • The tenant complained to a government agency.
  • The tenant terminated the lease for active service.
  • The tenant paid your association fee for you.
  • The tenant exercised any of their rights under the law.
Attorney Fees

If you and a tenant go to court, whoever wins the case is responsible for paying the other’s court costs and a reasonable fee for attorneys.[15]

Safety Obligations

In Florida, you need to follow certain rules to keep your tenant safe. These rules have hefty penalties if you do not comply. More so, many of them work in your best interest too. They keep your unit safe from damages.

Right to Habitability

Landlords must make reasonable plans for:[16]

  • Rodents: Exterminate rodents and vermin in your properties. If a tenant has to evacuate a property so that you can exterminate, you do not need to pay for damages or hotel stays; however, you do need to cut rent according to the days the tenant could not stay on the property. The amount of time for extermination shall not exceed four days with seven-days written notice.
  • Locks and keys
  • The clean and safe condition of common spaces in multiple dwellings
  • Garbage removal and outside receptacles for garbage storage
  • Functioning facilities for heat during winter, running water, and hot water
  • Working smoke detectors

None of the above obligations require you to pay for the services. Your tenant can pay for them, as long as you include it in the lease. You are not responsible if your tenant or someone on the property with the consent of your tenant causes any of the above.

Utility Services

You cannot purposefully or accidentally interrupt your tenant’s utilities, including water, light, electricity, and
heat.[17] If you violate this section, you’re liable to the tenant the cost of damages or 3 months rent, whichever amount is greater. Your tenant can withhold rent if you fail to provide essential utility services.[18]

Preventing Tenant Access

You cannot keep your tenant from accessing your unit by any means, including changing the locks or using a boot lock on the door.[19] If you violate this section, you’re liable to the tenant the cost of damages or 3 months rent, whichever amount is greater.

Changing Locks

A tenant or a tenant’s minor child who is a victim of domestic/dating/sexual violence or stalking and wants to continue living in your unit can ask you to change the locks if they provide you with written proof.[20]

Proof can be a copy of an injunction for protection, a copy of a no contact or a criminal conviction entered by a court in a criminal case in which the defendant was charged with domestic/dating/sexual violence or stalking, a written certification from a domestic violence center or rape crisis center or a copy of a police report that documents an incident of domestic/dating/sexual violence or stalking.

You must change the locks within 24 hours of receiving the request and give your tenant a copy of the key to the new locks. If you do not, the tenant can change the locks without your permission unless you have a provision in the lease that they cannot do so.

The tenant must change the locks to be of similar or better quality than the original locks, the tenant needs to tell you about it within 24 hours of changing the locks, and the tenant needs to give you a key to the new locks within a reasonable amount of time. If the tenant does change the locks, you are not liable for other tenants not being able to get into the unit.

If you violate this provision, you are liable for $1000 for damages and court costs, including attorney fees, unless you can prove that the violation was not committed in bad faith. If you violate the provision more than once, you are once again liable for the same damages.

You cannot waive the rights of victims of domestic/dating/sexual violence or stalking in your lease.

Ending or Renewing a Lease

Many great tenancies last several years; however, others grind to a halt as soon as the first lease is up. There are many reasons why you may have to part ways with a tenant and each of them has a distinct set of laws governing your actions. Follow them precisely, and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble in court.

Taking Possession of the Unit

If the lease is over and the tenant will not leave the unit, you must apply for removal of tenant by filing a complaint describing the unit and the facts that authorize recovery to the county court of the county where the unit is located.[21] You cannot retake the unit unless you did the above and the court is guiding you, the tenant has given you possession of your unit or the tenant has left the unit for more than half of a rent cycle — though this does not apply if the rent is up to date.

When the court rules in your favor, the clerk must write a writ to the sheriff describing the property and asking the sheriff to give you possession of the property.[22] The sheriff will then post a 24-hour notice visible on the property. The tenant has 24 hours to leave the property, not including Saturdays, Sundays, or legal holidays. Once the sheriff gives you possession, you or your property manager can move any of the tenant’s belongings off of the property and change the locks. You need to put the belongings on or near the property line, and after that, you are not liable for what happens to them.

The court has the power to award you money for nonpayment of rent if they’ve already awarded you with the property.[23] The tenant has to either pay the money while at the courthouse or return to the courthouse in a reasonable amount of time to pay the money. If not, you can order the sheriff can to your tenant’s home to collect your tenant’s property and sell it to raise the funds. Or your tenant’s wages can be garnished.

Buying a Property a Tenant Already Lives In

A Florida statute, passed in 2015, states that if you buy a foreclosed property where a tenant already lives, you become the landlord of that property and you are subject to the rights of the tenant. The law does not state that you need to follow the old landlord’s lease for the property, but if you want the tenant to leave, you need to notify them in writing and wait 30 days before requesting a writ of possession from the court clerk.[24]

If the tenant chooses to stay the full 30 days, they must pay rent to you for that month. This does not apply to holdover tenants who were the ones foreclosed on.

You also cannot change the locks on the tenant, end utility services previously granted to them or remove their personal property. You will be liable for damages and attorney’s fees if you do.

Ending Tenancy Due to Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking

You cannot end a tenant’s lease because they have been involved in an incidence of domestic/dating/sexual violence or stalking.[25] The same does not apply if the tenant is guilty of inflicting domestic/dating/sexual violence or stalking.

However, if a tenant wants to terminate a rental agreement because they were the victim of domestic/dating/sexual violence or stalking, they are entitled to do so. They need to provide you with a written notice of intent to terminate the lease and leave the property because of an actual or threatened incident. The termination is effective immediately when they deliver notice to you. The tenant needs to give you documentation verifying their status as a victim unless you waive the requirement.

Proof can be a copy of an injunction for protection, a copy of a no contact or a criminal conviction entered by a court in a criminal case in which the defendant was charged with domestic/dating/sexual violence or stalking, a written certification from a domestic violence center or rape crisis center, or a copy of a police report that documents an incident of domestic/dating/sexual violence or stalking.

If your tenant delivers this notice to you more than 30 days from the end of the lease, they are responsible for rent for a period of 30 days after delivery. If the tenant delivers the notice to you within 30 days of the end of the lease, they do not need to pay any more rent to you.

Your tenant does not lose deposit or advanced rent money to you for ending the lease early. You may deduct from the deposit for damages that need fixing, but not for early termination of the lease.

By the same token, if the tenant owes you money from before they provided you with the written notice, they still owe you that money.

If the person guilty of domestic/dating/sexual violence or stalking lives in the unit with the victim, they still owe you money for rent for early termination.

You cannot waive the rights of victims of domestic/dating/sexual violence or stalking in your lease.

Death of the Tenant

When all tenants with a claim to your property are dead, you need to leave their stuff where it is and rent unpaid until 60 days after the person’s death or until you are given written evidence of a probate sale or the name and address of a personal relative.[26]

Property Damage

If for some reason your property is destroyed and it’s not your tenant’s fault, they can leave and end the rental agreement.[27] If a portion of the property is destroyed, then they can take their stuff out of that part and you have to reduce their rent accordingly.

Military Tenants

Any service member can terminate their lease with you by providing a written notice of termination effective 30 days before ending the lease if:[28]

  • The service member moves more than 35 miles from your unit for a permanent change of station orders.
  • The service member is prematurely or involuntarily released from duty.
  • The service member rented the property from you while on active duty and their home of record prior to entering service is more than 35 miles from your unit. They are no longer on active duty.
  • The service member becomes eligible to live in government quarters and they opt to do so.
  • The service member receives a temporary change of station more than 35 miles from your unit and for more than 60 days.
  • The service member signed your lease, but has not moved into the property, and gets a change of orders to an area more than 35 miles from your unit.

The termination notice must include a copy of the service member’s orders or a signed verification by a commanding officer. If a service member dies on active duty, an adult member of their immediate family can terminate the lease with a 30-day notice, proof of active duty, and a certificate of death.

Your Tenant’s Property

After your tenant permanently moves out of your unit, you must give the tenant written notice and description of personal property that is still in the unit.[29]

Your notice should tell your tenant that you are charging them a reasonable cost for storing the items. Include where they can pick up their property and when the last day they can pick it up is. If you deliver the notice by hand, the last day needs to be at least 10 days after personal delivery. If you mail the notice, it needs to be more than 15 days after you put the notice in the mail. If you mail it, it needs to be mailed first-class to the last known address your tenant gave you.

The notice should include one of the following statements:

  1. If you fail to reclaim the property, it will be sold at a public sale after notice of sale has been printed in a publication. You have the right to bid out on the property at this sale. After the items have been sold, the costs of storage, advertising, and sale will be deducted. The remaining money will be given to the county. You can claim that money at any time within one year of when they receive the money.
  2. Because this property is believed to be worth less than $500, it may be kept, sold, or destroyed without further notice to you if you fail to reclaim it within the time indicated above.

You must give back the items should the owner come to pick them up if they pay you the reasonable costs of storage and advertising, so long as it is before the date specified in the notice.

If you believe the items are worth less than $500, and the tenant does not pick them up, you can keep it; otherwise, you must put the property up for public sale. You must advertise it for two consecutive weeks in a generally circulated newspaper in the area the sale will take place and with a description of the items and the name of the former tenant. You can bid on the items if you want to. You can also start advertising the sale before the last date your tenant has to pick up the items.

The tenant can claim the profits of the sale from you. Or you can deposit the profit in the county treasury within 30 days of when the sale took place.

Commercial Tenancies

Florida does not have many laws to protect landlords or tenants. In court proceedings, most issues are resolved based on the language of the contract. The few specifications Florida makes are detailed below.

Safety Obligation

It is your responsibility to make sure your property is tenantable. When the property becomes wholly untenantable, the property can no longer be used for the purpose for which it is leased.

The tenant can withhold rent from you if the property is wholly untenantable.[30]

If there’s nothing in the contract about how payment works while the tenant is waiting for you to make a repair, the tenant may give you a notice that states the unit is wholly untenantable and they will begin withholding rent should you fail to make the repair within 20 days.

Once you make the repairs, the tenant has to pay you all of the money they owe you.

If you don’t make the repairs in time, the tenant can extend the timeline you have to make them or move out, keep all the rent owed to you, end the lease, and avoid any liability for any future charges under the lease.

Collecting Rent

Collecting rent is the lucrative part of being a landlord. For many, it’s the most important part. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the biggest pains to deal with.

When a Tenant Owes You Rent…

If a tenant owes you rent, you can put a lien against their property to cover the lost income that includes anything inside the property they are renting from you or any other property that they rent, like crops grown on a property they rent or lease.[31] Your lien takes precedence over all other liens.

This law excludes their bed, bed sheets, and clothing.[32]

You could also file an action in court in the county where the land is. File for the amount of money your tenant owes you in the court that has jurisdiction. The court will verify your name, relationship to the tenant, how the money became owed, the amount due, and how you would like the money back.[33]

The judge can then issue a distress writ.[34] The writ prohibits the tenant from removing any property from units they rent that can be sold to cover the cost of rent. If the tenant does not listen, they will be charged with contempt of court. If the tenant doesn’t answer the writ, the sheriff will go collect the property from the unit.

If your property is in a different jurisdiction than the sheriff’s office, you need to deliver the writ to the sheriff’s office that does have jurisdiction over your property.[35]

The tenant can then come purchase a bond for double what they owe to get their property back. Before the judge issues the writ, the landlord’s agent or attorney must file a bond for at least double the money they are asking for in case the landlord is improperly suing the tenant. The tenant can get their property back at any time.[36]

If the judge rules in your favor, you’ll receive the amount due for rent including rent and costs. This amount will be deducted from the bond the tenant paid.[37] If the defendant is found not to owe you rent, then costs will be deducted from the bond you purchased.

Collecting Double Rent

If your tenant has refused to give you possession of the unit, you can demand the tenant pay double the monthly rent until they leave.[38]

Ending or Renewing a Lease

Ending a lease comes with a lot of legal complications that are important to be aware of. It’s also important to know how to end a lease instead of renewing one because renewal can happen much more easily than you think.

Eviction

You can evict a tenant for any of the following reasons:[39]

  • The tenant stayed on your property after the lease ended without your permission to continue living there.
  • When a person continues to live in a property without your permission after you’ve given a 3-day notice to pay the rent due or leave, you must deliver a hard copy of the notice to the property.
  • If the tenant has broken some part of the lease, you delivered – by hand, mail, or posting – a 15-day notice to resolve the issue, and the tenant has not resolved the issue.

You or your attorney must file a complaint in the court where your property is located that states which of the above three reasons you’re using and a description of your property.[40]

If you are evicting a tenant for not paying rent, do not accept any money from them. Accepting money from a tenant when you’re evicting them for nonpayment is considered a waiver to your right to evict for nonpayment.[41] If your tenant drops off rent money, return it as soon as you find it. Even if the money isn’t handed directly to you, it still counts as payment of rent unless you give it back.

If the court decides that the issues were caused by the tenant, they will judge that the landlord needs to recover possession of the unit, meaning the tenant has been evicted. If you were looking for the tenant to deliver money to the court in return for damages, the court can also enter into a money judgment in your favor for the amount of money the tenant owes you, plus costs. The judge will also award you attorney fees. If the judge rules in favor of the tenant, the court action is dismissed.[42]

The tenant pays any money you claim they owe you to the registry before the trial unless the tenant disputes the amount they owe you.[43] If the tenant disputes how much they owe, then they will pay the court on the day that the court makes a final determination. The court might allow time for later payment.

If the tenant argues the amount of money they owe the court, the court will decide on the following:

  • Whether you have given your tenant the proper credit for rent they have paid.
  • What counts as rent, according to your lease.

The tenant then must deposit an amount determined by the court into the registry. A tenant who files a counterclaim for money damages still needs to make the deposit. If the tenant does not pay the money owed to you to the court registry, they have waived the right to defense. The landlord is thus entitled to immediate possession of the unit.

The winning party will be awarded costs.

If the tenant is evicted, the sheriff is responsible for returning possession of the property to you.

Right of Possession

You get the right of possession to your apartment when your tenant fails to pay rent when it is due.[44]

You get possession of the unit if you take civil action and the court rules that you have the right of possession, the tenant leaves your unit willingly, or if your tenant has abandoned the unit.

Your tenant is considered to have abandoned the unit if you have reason to believe they have been away from the unit for more than 30 days straight, have not paid rent or an eviction notice has been served and the tenant hasn’t taken action within 10 days of the notice.

Tenancy at Will

Any time a tenant leases land from you and there is no lease, it is considered to be a tenancy at will in the state of Florida.[45] Tenancy at will means you or the tenant could end the lease for any reason and at any point.

Even if your lease is in writing, it might be a tenancy at will. If the term of your lease is unlimited, it is considered to be at will.[46]

The lease term is determined by how frequently you pay rent. For example, if you pay weekly, you have a week-to-week contract.

You can end a tenancy at will as follows:[47]

If the tenancy is from year to year, you must give at least 3 monts’s notice before the end of the lease year.

If the tenancy is from quarter to quarter, you must give at least 45 day’s notice before the end of the quarter.

If the tenancy is from month to month, you must give at least 15 day’s notice before the end of the quarter.

If the tenancy is from week to week, you need to give at least a week’s notice.

When a tenancy ends, accepting payment for the unit does not mean that you’ve renewed the lease. To renew the lease, both parties must have signed a document confirming the renewal.[48] Then it will become a tenancy at will again.

If you’re accepting payments for the tenancy but haven’t signed a new document, it is considered a tenancy at sufferance.

Sources

  1. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.683
  2. Florida Statutes Section 83.684
  3. Civil Code Section 51
  4. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  5. Civil Practice and Procedure Law 83.5
  6. Environmental Protection Agency regulations
  7. Public Health Chapter 404.056
  8. Civil Practice and Procedure Law 83.5
  9. Civil Practice and Proceduer Chapter 83.49
  10. Florida Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.46
  11. Civil Practice and Procedures Chapter 68.065
  12. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.53
  13. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.595
  14. Civil and Practice Procedure Chapter 83.64
  15. Civil and Practice Procedure 83.48
  16. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.51
  17. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.671
  18. Civil Practice and Procedure 83.60
  19. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.672
  20. Florida Statutes Section 83.684
  21. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 82.59
  22. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.62
  23. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.625
  24. Florida Statute 83.561
  25. Florida Statutes Section 83.684
  26. Civil Practice and Procedure 83.59
  27. Civil Practice and Procedure 83.63
  28. Civil Practice and Procedure 83.682
  29. Real and Personal Property Chapter 715.104
  30. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.201
  31. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.08
  32. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.09
  33. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.11
  34. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.12
  35. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.13
  36. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.14
  37. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.18
  38. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.06
  39. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.20
  40. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.21
  41. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.202
  42. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.231
  43. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.232
  44. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.05
  45. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.01
  46. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.02
  47. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.03
  48. Civil Practice and Procedure Chapter 83.04