Both landlords and tenants in Florida have certain rights and responsibilities when it comes to breaking a lease. You have a right as a landlord to be served with proper notice by your tenant, for instance. Similarly, your tenant has a right to break their lease without penalty for legally justified reasons.
As a landlord, it’s important that you understand the rules and regulations related to a tenant breaking their lease in order to make the right call when it happens. In today’s article, we’ll walk you through all the fundamentals you need to know about this topic.
Rental Agreements in Florida
Most landlords in Florida require their tenants to sign a lease agreement prior to moving in. And understandably so, it helps shield them from a variety of potential financial losses and issues like eviction that can arise during a tenancy.
But for a lease to be effective, it needs to contain certain terms. Among other terms, you’ll want to have clauses that address the following things.
1. Minimum Notice
You should have a clause that clearly states the minimum notice a tenant must provide before ending their periodic lease. Fla. Stat. 83.57 requires tenants to provide the following notices.
Tenants on a week-to-week lease must provide a 7-day notice. Tenants on a month-to-month lease must provide a 15-day advance notice. Those on a quarter-to-quarter lease must provide advance notice of at least 30 days. Whereas, those on a yearly lease must provide a notice of not less than 60 days before ending their yearly lease.
You’ll also want to state the manner in which the tenant must serve the notice to you. In Florida, tenants must do it in one of three ways:
- By hand delivering it to you.
- By mailing a copy.
- By leaving a copy in a conspicuous place on the property.
2. Responsibility to Re-Rent
You should include a clause on the landlord’s responsibility to re-rent the unit. Unlike in some other states, landlords in Florida are not required to “mitigate damages” should a tenant break their lease early. This means that you could leave the unit empty when the tenant has left and then hold them liable for all rent due.
3. Policy on Subletting
You should also put a clause in your lease clearly stating a tenant’s right to sublet the unit. Don’t leave this to guesswork; make sure to state whether you permit it or not. In Florida, if you don’t prohibit it, then a tenant is in the clear to sublet their unit.
Without any restrictions in place, you don’t have any control over who occupies it, which can subject your rental property to potential risks.
Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease in Florida
The following reasons don’t provide any legal protection (on their own) against penalties for tenants breaking a lease early.
- Breaking the lease after buying a home.
- Breaking the lease after a job relocation.
- Terminating the lease early due to the need to upsize or downsize.
- Terminating the lease early to move closer to family.
- Breaking the lease to move in with a partner.
- Breaking the lease after a divorce or separation.
However convincing or legitimate these reasons can be, they can lead to tangible consequences for a tenant. If a tenant would like to break a lease for such reasons, the best way would be to seek a mutual termination with the landlord.
Justified Reasons to Break a Lease in Florida
As a landlord in Florida, it’s equally important that you know the justified reasons a tenant can use to break their lease early. The reasons that can allow a tenant to break penalty-free in Florida are as follows.
1. The Tenant Is Starting Active Military Duty
An active member who is relocated for military service can break their lease legally without penalty. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) requires that a tenant provide the landlord with the following.
- Proof that they signed the lease prior to entering active duty.
- Proof that their military assignment extends beyond the next 90 days.
- A written notice accompanied with copies from the commanding officer authorizing the deployment or permanent change of station.
In Florida, the act only applies to members of the following military cadres.
- Armed forces.
- Activated National Guard.
- Commissioned corps of the Public Health Service.
- Commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
2. The Unit Is No Longer Habitable
As a landlord, you know that keeping your property livable is key to running a successful rental investment in Florida. You’ll always want to ensure that your property meets certain minimum requirements for habitability like:
- Working smoke detectors.
- Running hot and cold water.
- Being pest-free.
- Common areas are clean and sanitary.
- Adequate garbage removal receptacles.
Fla. Stat. 83.51 highlights all Florida landlord duties in regard to providing habitable premises.
3. An Action Is Serious Enough to Be Considered Landlord Harassment
You should always treat your tenant respectfully. For example, before entering their premises, you’ll want to notify them beforehand. According to the landlord tenant laws in Florida, landlords are required to provide their tenants with 12 hours of advance notice prior to entry.
An exception to the notice is in case of an emergency or if a tenant abandons the unit. Another action that can be considered landlord harassment is locking a tenant out of their rental unit.
4. Violation of a Term of the Lease Agreement by the Landlord.
This is another reason a tenant can use to break their lease early in the state of Florida. An example of a violation would be something like illegally raising the rent during a fixed-term lease.
After reading through this comprehensive guide, you’re now well-versed when it comes to a tenant breaking their lease in Florida. If you have any more questions or need expert help in managing your Florida rental property, Keyrenter Broward can help.
Keyrenter Broward is a full-service property management company in Broward County that can take the stress away out of managing your property. We can help you market your property, screen prospective tenants, collect rent, maintain your property, and more! Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help you reduce stress and grow your investment portfolio.
Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.