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Learn more about residential lease agreements in Florida, such as what disclosures are required and what else should be included, in our comprehensive guide.
What is a Residential Lease Agreement?
The Florida residential lease agreement is a written, legally binding contract between a landlord and a tenant concerning the use of the residential property. The lease agreement describes the rental property, the duration of the lease, and the amount of rent to be paid. It contains each party’s responsibilities in the maintenance of the property and their access. Other terms included in the lease are any legal restrictions and conditions that are unique to the state of Florida.
Before signing a lease agreement, the potential tenant should be required to complete a rental application. The landlord uses the information on the rental application to conduct the necessary checks such as income verification, criminal background check, and credit check. The results of these checks will help the landlord determine whether the applicant meets the minimum qualifications to rent the property.
Once the lease is signed and the first month’s rent and security deposits are paid, the tenant shall be given a move-in date.
Writing the Florida Residential Lease Agreement
The sections that follow are necessary elements to a residential lease. Each section includes information that pertains specifically to lease agreements in the state of Florida. Since no two rental properties are the same, it is important for the landlord to tailor their residential lease to the unit or property being rented. This guide lists various circumstances for landlords to consider as they are drafting a residential lease agreement. Landlords need to include the components listed here to be legally compliant in the state of Florida.
Lease Introduction and Identification of Involved Parties
The first portion of the lease agreement contains the name of the landlord and the legal names of the persons entering into the lease agreement. This is the person or persons who will be responsible for the rent payments. The tenant’s names should be verified against their current photo identification, such as a driver’s license. A copy of the identification may be kept for the landlord’s records. The required checks should be conducted on all persons over the age of 18 years old, who will be occupying the property. Even if the additional occupants are not the responsible parties for the rent payment, they must still pass the required prequalification checks.
Note: The complete address of the rental property and the county where it is located must be listed on the lease agreement.
Terms and Limits of Occupancy
The next section defines the beginning and end date of the lease agreement, including provisions for any extensions. The period of the contract can be week to week, month to month, quarter to quarter, or from year to year. The periods at which the rent is to be paid determine the tenancy.
Upon proper notice, the lease agreement may be terminated by either party. The landlord’s intention to terminate or renew the lease must be provided to the tenant in writing. The tenant must also notify the landlord of whether they intend to terminate or renew the lease agreement.
- If the duration of the lease is for a year, the parties must provide a three months’ notice of their intent. This notice must be given prior to the end of the year.
- If the period of the lease is from quarter to quarter, the notice must not be less than 45 days before the end of any quarter.
- If the lease agreement is from month to month, the notice must not be less than 15 days’ notice before the end of any monthly period.
- If the period of the lease agreement is from week to week, notice must be provided at least 7 days before the end of any weekly period.
If the tenant did not pay the rent, voluntarily surrendered possession, or abandoned the property, the landlord may take possession of the property.
A presumption of abandonment exists if the tenant is away from the property for 30 consecutive days, the rent is late, and the tenant hasn’t responded within 10 days to the landlord’s written request for payment.
If the tenant’s rent is not late and the tenant informed the landlord in writing of plans to be away from the property, there shall be no presumption of abandonment.
Rent and Utilities in Florida
The amount of the first month’s rent, security deposit, and the total amount of funds required shall be recorded on the lease agreement. The method by which the funds are to be paid should also be included. The funds must be paid before the tenants are permitted to occupy the property.
After that, the rent is to be paid at the beginning of the rent payment period unless there is a different agreement. For example, if the rent payment period is monthly, the rent is due on the first day of the month.
If the duration of the tenancy is not specified in the rental agreement, the duration will be determined by the periods in which the rent is paid. Where weekly rent payments are paid, the tenancy is from week to week. If payments are made monthly, then the tenancy is from month to month.
If the property is provided without rent payments, such as a condition of employment with no specified tenancy, the term will be determined by the employee’s wage pay periods. If the employee’s job is terminated, rent payments will be due the day after the end of the employment period. This is not applicable to residential property managers with a written agreement.
The landlord has the right to require the tenant to pay for garbage removal, water, fuel, or utilities.
Landlords may not disconnect the lights or stop the water or sewer service to the property for non-payment of rent. It doesn’t matter whether the landlord pays for the utility services or if the tenant is responsible for the utility payments.
Landlords are not permitted to change the locks or place any type of device on the property to prevent the tenant from gaining access to the property due to nonpayment of rent.
Security Deposits and Additional Fees in Florida
The security deposit shall not exceed twice the amount of the monthly rent. The tenant is not allowed to use the security deposit as payment of rent during the term of the lease agreement.
Within 21 days of the tenant vacating the property, the landlord must give the tenant a written statement explaining any deductions that will be made from the security deposit and the amount. The written statement shall be sent to the tenant at their forwarding address. If no forwarding address was provided, the notice should be mailed to the address of the subject rental property.
If the tenant doesn’t agree to the landlord’s claim, he or she may file a complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) to object to the landlord’s right to the security deposit. The tenant has 15 days to file the written objection.
If the tenant doesn’t object in writing, the landlord may deduct the amount of the claim filed from the deposit. The balance of the rent deposit shall be returned to the tenant within 30 days after the date of the notice of the claim for damages.
If the tenant still owes rent, the landlord can pay for the property to be cleaned and damages resulting from unusual wear and tear to be repaired with the security deposit.
If the tenant allows other persons not on the lease to occupy the property, an additional deposit can be charged. If the tenant has a guest who remains on the property for at least 14 cumulative days without the landlord’s permission, the tenant is in violation of the lease agreement.
Whenever a tenant fails to pay the required rent within a certain number of days, the tenant will be charged a late fee.
Maintenance, Alterations, and Repairs of Premises in Florida
Whenever a landlord rents property, it must meet all the local building, state, and health codes.
The building’s structure, such as the roof, walls, floor, and foundation, must be in good condition. The plumbing must be in reasonable working condition. Windows must have screens that are installed in good condition. If the screens become damaged, the landlord is responsible for their repair.
The property should be treated for the extermination of ants, roaches, mice, rats, bedbugs, and wood-destroying organisms. If the extermination requires the tenant to vacate the property, the landlord shall abate the rent for that period required. The tenant can be required to vacate the premises for no more than four days, upon written notice from the landlord.
Other responsibilities of the landlord include security, cleanliness, the safety of the property, and garbage removal to include outside receptacles.
The landlord must ensure that the property has functioning heat, running water, and hot water.
The property must have working smoke detectors unless otherwise agreed in writing at the beginning of the tenant’s occupancy. A smoke detector may be electrical or battery-operated.
The landlord is not responsible for repairing the damage caused by a tenant’s or any other person’s negligent action. The tenant shall maintain the property in a manner in compliance with all building, housing, and health codes. The property must be kept clean and sanitary. The plumbing fixtures must be kept clean, sanitary, and in good repair.
The tenants must take reasonable care of electrical appliances, plumbing, heating ventilation, and air-conditioning systems.
The tenant shall be liable for any damage or destruction to the property, or damage caused by anyone else.
The tenants shall not conduct themselves in a manner that creates a disturbance for their neighbors or perform any action that constitutes a breach of the peace.
Access to Property/Notice of Entry in Florida
Whenever a landlord needs to gain access to the property for maintenance or any other reason where there is no emergency, a 24-hour notice must be given to the tenants. If access to the property is because of a move-out inspection, the landlord shall provide the tenants with a forty-eight-hour notice.
The landlord may periodically enter the property for inspection, repairs, alterations, decorations, or improvements. They may also conduct agreed upon services or show the property to potential tenants or persons interested in purchasing the property. The tenant shall make a reasonable effort to accommodate a landlord’s request to enter the property.
The landlord has a right to enter the property at any time for the protection or preservation of the premises.
Upon providing reasonable notice to the tenants, the landlord can go into the property for maintenance and make repairs. A “reasonable notice” for repairs is at least 12 hours before the entry. A reasonable time to enter the property shall be between 7 o’clock in the morning and 8 o’clock in the evening.
The landlord may go into the rented property when necessary under any of the following conditions:
- With the tenant’s permission;
- In the event of an emergency;
- If the tenant’s refusal to allow entry is unreasonable; or
- If the tenant is away from the premises for a period equal to one-half the time for periodic rental payments.
If the rent is not late, and the tenant informs the landlord of their intent to be away from the property, the landlord must have the tenant’s permission to go into the property. Absent the tenant’s permission, entry may be made only to protect or preserve the premises.
A landlord shall not abuse the right of access nor use it to harass the tenant.
Pet Addendums in Florida
The landlord must give written permission for a tenant to keep pets on the property. Pets are defined as dogs, cats, birds, fish, or other domestic animals of any kind.
The lease agreement shall specify how many animals the tenant can have and the type of animal.
Tenants are required to pay a pet deposit fee of an amount outlined in the lease, which is non-refundable. If provisions for maintaining a pet is not included in the lease, it shall be added as an addendum to the lease agreement.
The signed pet agreement applies only to the pet specified in the signed contract. The pet addendum may not be substituted or transferred to any other pet. The landlord reserves the right to terminate the pet agreement if the tenant violates the terms of their contract.
Tenants are responsible for keeping their pets under control and not leaving them unattended for an unreasonable amount of time.
Tenants are responsible for their pets and any property damage caused by the pets.
It shall be the tenant’s responsibility to control any flea infestation because of their pets and to pay for the extermination of any and all affected areas.
The landlord is not liable for any injury that occurs from an attack or interaction with an animal, whether it occurs on or off the property. If an attack from an animal occurs and there is no fencing around the property, the landlord is not held liable because of the absence of a fence.
Although they are not required, the tenant is encouraged to obtain pet liability insurance if it is offered as a rider to their renter’s insurance policy.
After the lease has ended, the pet deposit will be used for cleaning the carpets or other areas damaged as a result of having pets on the premises.
Legal Considerations in Florida
If a tenant fails to maintain the property, follow the rental agreement (except for failure to pay rent), or follow reasonable rules or regulations, the landlord may provide written notification of intent to terminate the lease agreement.
Examples of such noncompliance include, but are not limited to, activities in violation of the lease agreement, such as keeping or permitting unauthorized pets or guests to have access to the property.
If the tenant hasn’t taken corrective action within 7 days from the receipt of a written notice, the landlord can terminate the rental agreement.
Without going through the process of a legal eviction, the landlord cannot remove the tenant’s personal property from the premises. If the tenant surrenders the property, the landlord may take possession of the property.
A tenant shall not assign a lease agreement, sub-let, or give any license to anyone to use the property without the prior consent of the landlord in writing. Prior approval doesn’t imply consent to future assignments. If a tenant assigns, sub-lets, or grants a license to use the property without permission, the landlord may void the lease agreement.
A landlord shall not be liable for damage or injury to the tenant, the tenant’s guests, family members, or other persons the tenant invites to the property.
When offering a property for rent, a landlord shall not discriminate against a service member.
The door locks, roof, walls, or windows shall not be removed unless it is required for maintenance or repair.
A tenant has a right to display a United States flag respectfully regardless of whether there is a provision in the lease agreement concerning flags. The displayed flag is to be portable, removable, plastic or cloth, and not larger than 4 and 1/2 feet by 6 feet.
Required Disclosures in Florida
In the state of Florida, landlords are obligated to provide the following disclosures in the residential lease agreement:
Lead Paint Addendum
Houses that are built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint. Paint, dust, and paint chips containing lead present a health hazard to the occupants if it is not correctly abated. Young children and women who are pregnant are especially vulnerable to the dangers of lead poisoning. Before renting a house that was built before 1978, landlords must notify the tenant of the presence of known lead-based paint and the danger of lead-based paint in the dwelling. Landlords are required to provide tenants with a copy of a federally approved pamphlet on lead -poisoning prevention.
In Florida, under Florida State Statute 404.056(8), tenants shall be given notification of the dangers of radon gas. If there is enough radon gas in a building, it could present a health risk to anyone who is exposed. Levels of radon gas that exceed the federal and state guidelines have been found in buildings located in Florida. Specifically, landlords are required to provide this warning in lease agreements:
“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.”
Termination of Lease Agreement by a Servicemember
Under certain conditions, Florida law provides for military service members to terminate their lease agreement. Any member of the United States Military who is required to move 35 miles or more shall be permitted to be released from the lease agreement. This also applies to service members who are discharged from active duty. If a person was not eligible for military housing at the beginning of the lease period, but later becomes eligible for government housing shall be allowed to break their lease agreement.
The service member must provide the landlord with written notice of their intent to terminate the lease and a copy of their military orders or other written verification. The written verification must be signed by their military commander. These documents should be sent to the landlord via certified return receipt. The service member should also keep a copy of everything sent to the landlord. This process should be done even if the landlord doesn’t require it. If the service member follows the correct procedures, they are not responsible for the rent or damages because of the early termination of the lease.
Hurricanes and Other Natural Disasters
There are no specific requirements or actions that a landlord must take regarding a leased property in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster. However, the law does set forth the procedures that must be followed before a tenant can move due to a major repair problem.
If the property needs repair, the tenant must serve the landlord with written notice of that fact. The landlord will have at least 20 days to make the repairs. During that time, the tenant can withhold the rent that is due for the next rental periods until the repairs have been completed. The lease agreement may specify a different time period to be given for the landlord to make repairs or maintenance.
After the landlord has completed the repairs, the tenant shall pay the amount of rent that is due. If the repairs are not completed within the agreed upon time, the time allowed may be extended. The agreement to extend the time for the repairs must be in writing. Tenants don’t have to agree to a time extension and may elect to move. In this circumstance, the tenant will not incur any liability for future rent or charges under the lease.
Other Important Florida Disclosures
Aside from those listed above, Florid law also requires the following disclosures to be addressed in the residential lease agreement:
- Marijuana use policy: Florida’s state law allows marijuana for medical use. Landlords should disclose any related policies in the lease agreement.
- Fire protection: Florida state law also requires landlords to inform tenants about the availability of fire protection for residential structures over three stories high.