Landlords in Florida have a responsibility to abide by certain rules and regulations when it comes to tenants breaking a lease. The rules are outlined by Florida landlord-tenant law.
In today’s blog, we’ll cover the justified and unjustified reasons for early lease termination. Having this information will help you know both your rights and the ones of your tenants.
Rental Agreement in Florida
As a landlord, having a clear and solid lease agreement is important for your success. You always want your tenants to understand what they are obligated to do when they sign the lease agreement. This will go a long way in avoiding future conflicts and tenant evictions.
Another important term you’ll want to include in the agreement is the minimum notice requirement a tenant must provide prior to terminating their lease agreement. In the state of Florida, your tenant is obligated to provide you with the following notices prior to moving out.
- 7 days’ notice prior to ending a week-to-week lease.
- 15 days’ notice prior to ending a month-to-month lease.
- 30 days’ notice prior to ending a quarter-to-quarter lease.
- 60 days’ notice prior to ending a yearly lease.
Unlike in many other states in the country, you have no obligation to “mitigate damages” after a tenant breaks their lease early.
A solid lease agreement is one that includes a tenant’s right to sublet their unit. In the state of Florida, if the lease doesn’t prohibit it, then a tenant may have a right to do so. According to state law, it’s unlawful for a landlord to unreasonably refuse to sublet.
With that in mind, it’s important to have a clause on subletting in order to let a tenant know your expectations. In the clause, you may want to expressly state that you reserve the right to approve or reject a sublet. What this will do is ensure that you only have a qualified tenant living in your unit.
Also, you may require a tenant who wishes to sublet the unit to file a formal request with you. In the letter, you may want them to state certain information such as the sublet term, the reason for subletting the unit, and the contact info of the subtenant.
Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease in Florida
Some reasons simply don’t offer enough justification for a tenant to break their lease in the state of Florida.
- The tenant bought a house.
- The tenant is relocating for school.
- The tenant is relocating for a new job.
- The tenant is moving in with a partner.
- The tenant is moving to be closer to family and friends.
- The tenant got divorced or separated.
Tenants who break their lease for the aforementioned reasons can be liable to certain consequences. If a tenant wishes to break their lease for any of these reasons, they need to ask for the landlord’s approval.
Justified Reasons to Break a Lease in Florida
Tenants in Florida may also be able to break their lease without facing any consequences for certain reasons. The following are the scenarios that justify early lease termination.
1. Early Termination Clause
Some landlords permit their tenants to break their lease early so long as they meet specific terms. Typically, an early termination clause requires a tenant to meet two requirements.
One is proper notice, which is normally at least 30 days prior to the move-out date. The other requirement is a penalty fee, which helps a landlord meet part of the re-renting costs. It’s normally equivalent to two months of rent.
2. Active Military Duty
Tenants who start active military duty are also able to break their lease early thanks to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Protection through the act begins as soon as the tenant begins their active duty and ends between 30 and 90 days after they are discharged.
The act requires that a tenant do certain things prior to moving out to avoid getting penalized.
- The tenant must be able to prove that they signed the lease before being told they must enter their military duty.
- They must show confirmation that they have the intention of remaining on active duty for a period longer than ninety days.
- They must give or send a written notice to the landlord that includes the deployment letters from their commanding officer.
Even with all this done, the lease doesn’t end immediately. The earliest it can end is 30 days after the next rent period has begun.
Only the following military cadres in Florida qualify to break their lease early in accordance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
- Armed forces.
- Activated National Guard.
- Commissioned corps of the Public Health Service.
- Commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
3. Uninhabitable Unit
As a landlord, you know that habitability is important to tenants. Florida law (Fla. Stat. 83.51) outlines all responsibilities you have regarding providing habitable premises. Some of them are below:
- Complying with all applicable codes pertaining to health, safety and housing.
- Providing adequate trash receptacles.
- Providing functioning heating facilities during winter.
- Providing working smoke detection devices.
If you fail to do so, your tenant may obtain the right to break their lease and move out.
4. Landlord Harassment
As a landlord, it is often in your best interest to respect your tenant’s privacy. For one, this means providing your Florida tenant with advance notice of 12 hours prior to entering their rented premises.
Secondly, it also means entering only for permitted reasons. These can include: in response to an emergency, if a court order allows it, or to show the home to prospective tenants, buyers, or lenders.
Contact a Property Management Company for Help
Do you have questions about property management in Florida? Stringer Management can help with everything from tenant screening to security deposits. We’re a quality property management company in Sarasota that you can trust.
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice from a qualified attorney. Laws frequently 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.