In Florida, as with any other state, if rent is paid in a timely manner in exchange for inhabiting property, a landlord-tenant relationship is established (even without a written lease), and with this relationship comes rights and responsibilities for both parties.
Basic Landlord Responsibilities
Keep the rental fit to live in. The landlord is required to provide housing that is habitable and to make repairs in a timely manner when required.
Quiet enjoyment. The landlord is required not to disturb the tenant’s rights to peacefully and reasonably use their rented space.
Basic Tenant Responsibilities
Pay rent on time. If the tenant does not pay rent in full and in a timely manner, the landlord has the right to take action to end the tenancy.
Cover excessive damages. Tenants are responsible to cover the costs of damages to the property beyond normal “wear and tear”.
With that said, Florida varies from other states on additional rights and responsibilities for both landlords and tenants. Florida law even varies on both the interpretation of the above rights and the rules on handling violations.
Warranty of Habitability in Florida
Landlord Responsibilities. Florida’s warranty of habitability covers a variety of health and safety standards that dictate whether a single- or multi-family dwelling (as well as some mobile homes and condos) in the state is legally safe for human occupation. This habitability standard is based upon a landlord’s ability to provide and maintain the following amenities:
- Windows and doors that lock
- Roofs and walls that are waterproofed
- Hot and cold running water
- An HVAC system
- Adequate plumbing and associate fixtures
- Safe electrical wiring, lighting, and outlets
- Stable floors
Also, Florida requires certain kinds of amenities to be provided and maintained in certain types of dwellings. For example, single family dwellings and duplexes must have a working set of smoke detectors. Similarly, multi-family dwellings must be provided with a garbage can and a routine service for garbage removal.
When a tenant in Florida notices an issue with one of these previously stated amenities, they may formally request that their landlord fix it. This request must be placed in writing, after which their landlord has 20 days to make any repairs deemed necessary by both parties. If a Florida landlord fails to act within that time frame, they enable their tenant to withhold rent or terminate their lease immediately because they, the landlord, have broken the lease agreement.
Tenant Responsibilities. In general, Florida tenants are responsible for paying rent on time and keeping their rented unit in a safe, habitable condition. This includes routinely cleaning and maintaining in-unit facilities such that they are not likely to damage or harm other tenant’s possessions. If a Florida landlord notices a deficiency on this front, they may request (in writing) that the tenant fix it within 7 days or face eviction.
Tenants in Florida are also placed in a usual situation when it comes to holding their landlord to account for upholding their half of the state’s warranty of habitability. While these tenants cannot repair unresolved problems on their own and deduct the associated costs from their rent payment, they can withhold rent payments until a repair is made. This action can only be taken after the 20 day window for repairs passes and the tenant provides written notice of their intentions.
Evictions in Florida
Florida landlords are empowered to evict their tenants under a number of circumstances. These are just a few of the most common reasons for taking this action, as well as the legal procedures associated with pursuing those forms of evictions:
- Nonpayment of rent – After any applicable grace period, a landlord in Florida may begin the process of evicting a non-paying tenant by providing them with a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. If this notice goes unfulfilled, then the landlord may file a Summons and Complaint with a local court to formalize the intended eviction.
- Violation of lease terms – When a so-called “curable” violation of the lease terms occurs, a landlord may inform their tenant of the infraction with a 7-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate. Tenants then have 7 days to resolve the issue in order to avoid eviction. However, so-called “incurable” infractions may warrant a 7-Day Unconditional Quit Notice. Tenants cannot resolve their behavior at that point and should be expected to move out or face formal eviction in 7 days.
- Illegal Acts – Though Florida does not enumerate what kinds of behaviors it considers “illegal” in the context of a lease agreement, it does indicate the procedure a landlord must take to evict a tenant for this reason. Specifically, they must provide their tenant with a 7-Day Unconditional Quit Notice and inform them that they must move out in 7 days. Otherwise, they will face formal eviction via a Summons and Complaint filing.
Evictions without a lease. Florida requires that certain amounts of advanced notice be provided to tenants, whether or not they enjoy the other benefits of a written lease. In the case that a tenant is not renting through a written lease agreement, they are entitled to the following amounts of notice prior to eviction based upon their per diem rental period:
- Yearly Rental – 60-Day Notice
- Quarterly Rental – 30-Day Notice
- Month-to-Month Rental – 15-Day Notice
- Week-to-Week Rental – 7-Day Notice
Tenants that still fail to vacate the premises after the applicable amount of time has passed may be subject to formal eviction after their landlord files a Summons and Complaint with a local court.
Illegal Evictions. Tenants in Florida are protected from certain kinds of evictions, including those precipitated in retaliation for certain kinds of actions. This includes after a tenant files a health and safety complaint to a local regulatory authority or attempts to join a tenant union.
However, it is unclear if Florida’s current fair housing regulations bar landlords from evicting tenants in a discriminatory manner (based upon state and federal protected classes). The same is true for domestic abuse victims, who are not allotted any special protections from eviction under Florida law.
Security Deposits in Florida
When it comes to security deposits, their maintenance, and their use, Florida requires landlords operating within the state to follow these regulatory standards and guidelines:
- Standard Limit / Maximum Amount – Statewide Florida law does not currently cap how much a landlord can charge their tenants as a security deposit. However, local regulations in the state’s several metropolitan jurisdictions may set a more localized standard for how much a landlord can charge as a security deposit.
- Interest and Maintenance – Landlords in Florida are not required to keep their security deposits in an interest-bearing bank account. However, if they do, their tenant is entitled to roughly 75% of the yearly average earned interest rate. This interest must be paid out when the security deposit is returned, except in cases of early termination.
- Time Limit for Return – If the Florida landlord is returning the security deposit in full (with applicable interest), they must do so in 15 days after a lease concludes. However, if deductions are warranted, a landlord has 30 days to send written notice of their intentions. In this latter case, it is unclear how long the landlord has to return the deducted deposit funds after providing written notice of their action.
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – Failure to properly return a security deposit may cause a Florida landlord to forfeit any right to the security deposit itself. Affected tenants may also seek damages in these situations.
- Allowable Deductions – Florida landlords may only make security deposit deductions for a couple reasons. These include:
- Cover unpaid rent
- Monetary damage for a lease violation
- Repairs to unit damage beyond regular wear and tear
Lease Termination in Florida
Notice Requirements. Florida landlords are required to provide certain amounts of notice before breaking off a lease before its natural conclusion. These following amounts of notice are based upon the per diem length of the lease agreement:
- Week-to-Week Lease – 7-Days’ Notice
- Month-to-Month Lease – 15 Days’ Notice
- Quarter-to-Quarter Lease – 30 Days’ Notice
- Yearly Lease – 60 Days’ Notice
Legally Breaking a Lease Early. Breaking off a lease in Florida usually requires a tenant to invoke an early termination clause written into their lease agreement. However, if this option is unavailable to the tenant for one or more reasons, they may choose to pursue legal lease termination for one of the following reasons:
- Active Military Duty – Federal law allows service members who are relocating due to deployment or permanent change of station to terminate their lease as early as 30 days from the next rent period.
- Unit is Uninhabitable – If a tenant’s unit is not maintained pursuant to Florida’s warranty of habitability, they may consider themselves “constructively evicted.” This empowers them to terminate their lease immediately because their landlord has not maintained their legal responsibilities to maintain the unit’s key amenities.
- Landlord Harassment – If a tenant’s landlord routinely breaks the applicable right of entry notice standard or uses said standard to inhibit their ability to peacefully enjoy their unit, then the tenant may try to break their lease on the grounds of landlord harassment. This includes instances of “lockouts,” which are illegal in Florida.
- Specific Lease Provision Violation – Florida also recognizes that the violation of specific lease provisions may warrant a tenant’s desire to break their lease. This reason for lease termination can be invoked for a variety of circumstances, including (but not limited to) when a landlord raises their rent rate in the middle of a lease.
Tenants in Florida may remain liable to pay rent on their former unit even if they do manage to break their lease early. However, this need to pay can be eliminated if a sublease for that unit can be established. Florida landlords are not required to make a reasonable effort to re-rent your unit, though, so that responsibility lies squarely with the tenant.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Florida
Rent control & increases. Florida’s current statutory code does not require landlords to provide any amount of notice in advance of a rent increase. Similarly, these same landlords are not required to specific their reasons for raising rent. As such, Florida landlords are fairly free to adjust their rent rates at their own discretion. However, raising rent before the end of the leasing period may be grounds for lease termination on a tenant’s part.
The state of Florida does not currently maintain any kind of statewide “rent control” statute, nor do any local jurisdictions control rent rates in this manner. However, current efforts in several major Florida cities may signal that rent control is imminent in the Sunshine State.
Rent related fees. Florida landlords are free to charge several common lease-related fees at their discretion, including when it comes to their cost and frequency. Among others, application fees and late rent payment fees are not regulated by state statute.
However, returned check fees are limited by the state when it comes to their value. Specifically, the following rates have been set based upon the original value of the bounced check in question:
- $50 or less check – $25 maximum service charge
- $50-$300 check – $30 maximum service charge
- $300 or more check – $40 maximum service charge
For returned check fees, landlords may also choose to charge 5% of the check’s original value as a fee (whichever is worth more).
Housing Discrimination in Florida
Federal Protections. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from being discriminated against due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. However, the law does not apply to all housing, such as owner-occupied homes with 4 or fewer units or housing operated by religious organizations.
State Protections. Florida only appears to provide one extra class of protection under its current civil rights legislation, including those that apply to fair housing practices. As such, pregnant individuals cannot be discriminated against when it comes to certain aspects of the leasing and tenancy process.
Discriminatory Acts & Penalties. The Florida Commission on Human Relations dictates that several common practices may come under their purview when it comes to tenants reporting discrimination. As such, these following practicing may be considered illegal when they are precipitated in a discriminatory manner against a state or federal protected class:
- Refusing to rent or sell housing
- Falsely denying availability of a housing unit
- Refusing to engage in certain brokerage activities, including loans, in a fair manner
- Threatening, coercing, or intimidating tenants into forgoing a fair housing right
- Refusing to accept reasonable accommodations requested by a tenant
The Florida Commission on Human Relations does not clearly outline what kind of punishments landlords can expect if they participate in one or more of these activities. However, they do provide a convenient digital portal for reporting perceived discrimination based upon the tenant’s county of residence.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Florida
Florida also has several other assorted statutes that fit under their landlord-tenant laws. Be sure to review these carefully as they are often the subject of disputes between landlords and tenants.
Landlord Entry. In almost all cases, landlords in Florida are only required to give 12 hours of advance notice before entering an occupied rental unit. This includes in instances where repairs are being made or when the landlord intends to show the unit to a prospective renter. However, this rate of advance notice can be increased or decreased based upon the provisions of the applicable lease agreement.
Florida landlords are also able to enter without any advance notice only when an emergency threatens the unit’s inhabitants. In all, these right to entry provisions cannot be used to harass a tenant or else that tenant may be able to use it as grounds for early lease termination.
Small Claims Court. Florida’s small claims court can be utilized to settle certain kinds of landlord-tenant disputes valued at no more than $5,000. This includes eviction cases, which small claims court judges may hear and adjudicate. Disputes relating to a written lease have a 5 year statute of limitations in these courts, while oral lease agreements only carry a 4 year statute of limitations.
Mandatory Disclosures. All Florida landlords are required to make the following disclosures to their tenants, either within the terms of their lease or in a separate agreement:
- Lead-based paint. For houses built prior to 1978, federal law requires landlords to provide tenants with information about lead based paint hazards. Read more.
- Authorized Authorities. Florida landlords are required to provide their tenants with the names and addresses of all owners for their property. This disclosure must also include any intermediaries certified to act on that property owner’s behalf.
- Radon Gas. Florida landlords must provide their tenants with information relating to radon gas, whether or not it is present in or near their rental unit. This disclosure must include language provided by the state that details the nature and hazards associated with radon gas.
Changing the Locks. Florida’s current statutory code does not clearly indicate whether landlords or tenants are empowered to change a unit’s locks without the other parties permission. Florida law does forbid lockouts, however, so it is clear that landlords cannot change a tenant’s locks as a form of retaliation for not paying rent.
Florida Landlord-Tenant Resources
These following digital resources may prove useful to you as you seek to learn more about how Florida’s laws and regulations impact landlord-tenant relationships within the state:
Chapter 760 of the 2019 Florida Statues – “Fair Housing Act” – These statutes specifically outline which classes of people are protected from housing discrimination in Florida. Also, these laws can be used as a point of reference when trying to determine if a specific action taken by a landlord constitutes discrimination.
Florida Landlord-Tenant Laws in Practice – This consumer-oriented document breaks down most of the state’s major landlord-tenant laws and applies them to familiar situations experienced by both parties. This document also provides recommendations that can forgo conflict altogether.
Rights and Duties of Tenants and Landlords – These digital pamphlets outline the rights and duties assigned to tenants and landlords when they enter into a leasing relationship. These pamphlets also address what either party can do to resolve a conflict when either party fails to adhere to its assigned duties.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a landlord enter without permission in Florida?
A landlord in Florida can only enter a rented unit in cases of emergency. Otherwise, they must always give at least 12 hours of advance notice before entering to make a repair or show the unit to a prospective renter. However, Florida state law does allow landlords and tenants to agree to a different amount of advance notice, so long as that change is codified in the lease itself.
How much notice does a landlord have to give a tenant to move out in Florida?
Landlords in Florida must give differing amounts of notice if they intend for their tenant to move out. These differing amounts are based upon the per diem length of that lease or rental agreement (when a lease is not utilized). These differentiated notice periods are as follows:
- Week-to-Week Lease or Rental Agreement – 7-Days’ Notice
- Month-to-Month Lease or Rental Agreement – 15 Days’ Notice
- Quarter-to-Quarter Lease or Rental Agreement – 30 Days’ Notice
- Yearly Lease or Rental Agreement – 60 Days’ Notice
However, a landlord in Florida may be able to shorten this notice period if a noteworthy lease terms violation occurs. Depending on the severity of the infraction, the tenant in question may only be provided with 7 days of prior notice to resolve the issue or move out. A similar amount of notice may be provided when a tenant participates in an illegal activity.
Is Florida a “landlord friendly” state?
Overall, Florida is a “landlord friendly” state because it does not limit how much a landlord can charge for rent. Florida also does not limit the value of late fees and allows landlords to return all or part of a security deposit in a fairly lenient timeframe of 30 days.
What are a tenants’ rights in Florida?
A tenant’s rights in Florida include the right to seek out housing and enter into lease agreements without facing discrimination from landlords. Florida tenants also have the right to any interest earned on the security deposit when their landlord maintains their deposit in an interest-earning bank account. Tenants in Florida further have the right to withhold rent in certain situations where their landlord is not upkeeping the responsibilities under the warranty of habitability.
Can a tenant change the locks in Florida?
Tenants do not appear to be able to change their own locks in Florida. That being said, Florida’s current laws do not explicitly forbid such a practice. It does, however, forbid landlords from unilaterally changing a unit’s locks to precipitate a “lockout.”