Florida Landlord Tenant Laws
On the whole, Florida has a fair balance of protections in its law for both landlords and tenants. However, there are some unique factors in the state that tenants should be aware of. For example, in the case of month-to-month or week-to-week leases, certain types of properties can see dramatic spikes in rent in the winter months due to the influx of “snowbirds” who come down temporarily to escape the cold climates of the northern states.
Local city and county ordinances are very important to keep up with in Florida, especially in regard to required business licenses. While there is no state-level requirement for such a license for any rental property, a number of cities and counties require one. In addition, cities sometimes have unique wrinkles in their landlord-tenant code, such as the requirement in Miami that landlords pay for a real estate sign permit for each sign that they place outside advertising one of their properties. Each sign must have a sticker indicating a permit has been purchased for it, or the landlord can be fined.
What Laws Cover Landlord-Tenant Relationships in Florida?
Rental law in Florida is covered almost entirely by Florida Statutes Title VI Chapter 83. There are only a very small handful of other statutes that landlords and tenants may need to refer to, for example section 715, which covers required notice and instructions for handling abandoned property.
Security Deposit Rules
There is no statute establishing a maximum security deposit amount in Florida, or on anything pertaining to pet deposits. The rest of the terms that govern the handling of security deposits are listed under Chapter 83.49.
Florida landlords are not required to pay interest on security deposits, but they may do so as a promotional measure if they so desire. If they do choose to pay interest, however, there are some regulations. The deposit must be kept in a Florida bank, and the tenant must receive at least 75% of the interest. If the lease is terminated early due to some fault of the tenant, the landlord is under no obligation to pay the interest. Landlords are not allowed to commingle the deposits of different tenants, nor may they post a surety bond.
Landlords must return a security deposit within 15 days of lease termination, unless they are withholding a portion of it, in which case this deadline is extended to 30 days. If a landlord withholds money from the deposit, they must provide the tenant with an itemized list of damages and charges that follows a specific formula laid out in Chapter 83.49. If interest is being paid to the tenant, the landlord must provide the tenant with information about the interest rate while their deposit was held.
Lease, Rent and Fee Rules
There is no statute on notice prior to an increase in rent, application fees, late fees and prepaid rent.
According to Chapter 83.46 if a rental due date is not specified in the lease, it is regarded by the law as due on the first day of each rental period. It can also be uniformly apportioned by each day.
Chapter 68.065 covers returned check fees. Landlords can charge varying amounts depending on the face value of the check. The permitted amount is $25 for checks under $50, and an added $5 if the check exceeds $50 and $10 if the check exceeds $300. The landlord can opt to take 5% of the face value of the check instead if that amount is greater.
There is no statute allowing tenants to make repairs on their own and deduct the cost from the rent. Under Chapter 83.60, however, tenants are allowed to withhold rent for failure to provide essential utilities. Landlords may recover attorney and court fees in the event of a legal dispute, and Chapter 83.595 states that landlords do not have an obligation to minimize damages or find a new tenant if the lease is abandoned.
Notice and Entry Rules
Tenants may terminate a yearly lease with 60 days notice, a quarterly lease with 30 days notice, a monthly lease with 15 days notice and a weekly lease with a week’s notice under Chapter 83.57. There is no statute on advance notice for a move-out inspection by the landlord.
Landlords can terminate a lease for nonpayment with only three business days notice. If the notice falls across a weekend, the days of the weekend don’t count as part of the time limit. Leases are required to notify tenants of this time limit, however. If a landlord wants to evict for a lease violation, they have to give seven days notice, but the tenant may remedy the issue during that time to restore the lease to good standing. Landlords generally only have to give 12 hours notice to enter a dwelling, but this can be changed in the lease by mutual consent.
Lockouts and utility shutoffs are not allowed under Florida law. Self-help evictions make the landlord liable to the tenant either for actual damages or the equivalent of three months rent, whichever amount is greater, under Chapter 83.67. Greater damages can be awarded for repeated violations. Landlords are also subject to special requirements when handling abandoned property, and they must notify tenants at their last known address with pre-paid postage.
Required Disclosures and Notes
At the outset of each tenancy, landlords are required to provide either their name and address, or the name and address of a person authorized to receive communications from tenants. At move-in, landlords are also required to provide a specific warning about the potential dangers of radon gas, which can be found in Chapter 404.506. If the building is three stories tall or higher, landlords are also required to give tenants details on the availability of fire protection.
Landlords are required to include a specific clause (found in Chapter 83.67) to indemnify themselves from responsibility for the personal property left on the premises after the death of a tenant. If this clause is not in the lease, the landlord becomes responsible for the removal of the property. Landlords may not include any clause in the lease that would cause the tenant to waive any of their legal rights.
Retaliation is illegal under Florida law. Retaliation is presumed if the landlord takes adverse action in response to a tenant complaining to a government authority, becoming active with a tenants organization, making a valid complaint to the landlord or exercises their right to terminate a lease due to their active duty military service. Adverse actions include increasing the rent, threatening legal action or decreasing services.
Small Claims Court
The limit for small claims in Florida is $5,000, but this excludes attorney and court fees as well as interest. Eviction cases are heard in small claims court in the state. The statute of limitations for written contracts is five years and oral contracts is four years.
- Florida Small Claims Court
- Miami-Dade County Small Claims Court
- Duval County Clerk of Courts
- Pinellas County Small Claims Court
- Brevard County Clerk of the Court