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Florida Tenant-Landlord Law

by Caroline Merkin

Florida-Landlord-Tenant-Law-Fast-Facts

Security Deposits

  • In Florida, there is no statute regarding a security deposit maximum (83.49). Additionally, landlords aren’t required to issue a security deposit, but most do to analyze a tenant’s financial stability and guarantee a payment for damaged property.
  • The landlord, is not allowed to commingle funds, but is allowed to hold the amount in a non-interest bearing account. (83.49 (1a-b)). It is legal for them to also place the security deposit in an interest-bearing account, but the landlord must agree to pay the tenant 5% simple interest per year. (83.49 (1a-b)).
    • The landlord has 30 days to notify the tenant if he/she chooses to relocate the deposit.
  • If a tenant wishes to terminate a lease early, landlords are legally allowed to withhold a deposit.
    • If the landlord has no reason to withhold a deposit, he/she has 15 days to return the money to the tenant. If landlords withhold any amount of the deposit, such as damage repairs, they have 30 days to notify the tenant via certified mail and must include an itemized list on what the funds are being used for. (83.49 (3a)).

Rent and Late fees

  • In Florida, there are no statutes in place regarding late fee maximums or rent increase notices. (83.46)
    • Additionally, there is no lawfully imposed grace period.
  • Unless otherwise agreed, rent is payable without demand or notice; periodic rent is payable at the beginning of each rent payment period (83.46(1))

Notices and Entry

  • For a non-emergency entry, landlords must give a notice 12 hours prior to assessing maintenance and repairs. (83.53(2))
    • If there was an emergency, a landlord is allowed to enter the property without a notice. (83.53(2b))
  • Landlords are required to keep their rental properties up to state and local health codes that allow a tenant to habitat a space comfortably
    • A tenant is allowed to withhold rent for a landlord’s failure to provide essential services (water, heat, etc) after 20 days
      • The tenant must pay the withheld rent once the repairs are made (83.201)

Disclosures

  • Federal law requires landlords to disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards, if the property was built before 1973, before the lease takes effect along with an information pamphlet.

Eviction Laws

Eviction Step #1: Inform your tenant with an official notice

An official notice is posted to the tenant. Typically, although this varies based State and county, the landlord hands the notice to the tenant in person, or posts the notice to the door if the tenant is not home. You also may need to send a copy via certified mail.

Eviction Step #2: Wait for the tenant to respond

  • When it is failure to pay rent, the tenant has 3 days to pay you otherwise the eviction notice can be filed with the courts. (83.56(3)).
  • When there is another lease violation (e.g. subletting), the tenant has 7 days to resolve the violation from the point that the eviction notice is served. Otherwise the eviction notice will be filed with the courts. (83.56(2))
    • A landlord is legally allowed to evict a tenant for intentional destruction, damage, or or continued unreasonable disturbance of the property
  • If the rental agreement is on a yearly basis, a landlord must notify a tenant at least 60 days to terminating a lease early. (83.57(1))
    • If the agreement is quarterly, the landlord must notify the tenant within at least 30 days to terminating a lease early. (83.57(2)).
    • If monthly, the landlord must provide at least 15 days. (83.57(3)).
    • If weekly, the landlord must provide at least 7 days. (83.57(4))

Eviction Step #3: File With Court

If the tenant has not paid you within the time period outlined in Step #2, then file with the local courts for the official eviction. Both you and the tenant will receive a specific date for the hearing.

Eviction Step #4: Attend the court date

You or your lawyer will want to attend the court hearing and bring proper documentation of the lease violation with you. You should prepare to bring the following, at a minimum:

  1. Your lease agreement
  2. Evidence of payment failures / history
  3. Proof that you served the tenant (Step #1)
  4. Any communications or other helpful records

Eviction Step #5: Sheriff to remove the tenant

If the tenant does not leave on their own, then you have a right, within a certain amount of time, to request for a sheriff to remove the tenant.

Eviction Step #6: Collecting damages

Most likely, the tenant owes you money for the lease violation. Here are some ways to collect money from the damages:

  1. Garnish wages
  2. File in small claims court
  3. Use a private debt collector