As a landlord in Florida, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the law. Florida law highlights the rights and responsibilities of both you and your tenants from the rental agreement to periodic rental payments and even when a landlord fails to comply, among other important factors.
Understanding the rights of your tenants and your legal obligations under the Florida landlord-tenant law will help you run a successful investment business. We can help you make a proper rental agreement, navigate Florida security deposit laws, know what reasonable notice entails, and so much more.
However, these laws in Florida and their nuances can be confusing for both the landlord and the tenant. Thankfully, the experts at Out Fast Property Management have put together the following overview of Florida law for you so that you can understand Florida law quickly and easily.
Required Landlord Disclosures
Landlords are bound by federal and state laws in Florida to make certain information known to tenants. If a landlord fails to do this or put it in the rental agreement, they can be held liable.
Before a tenant can start living on your property, you must notify them of the following disclosures under the Florida landlord-tenant laws:
- Information regarding any known lead-based paint hazards. This is required of landlords renting out properties built prior to 1978. If a landlord fails to do this, there can be consequences.
- The names and addresses of all owners of the property. You must also include the contact details of any intermediaries certified to act on the behalf of the property owner and all of this must be in the rental agreement.
- The manner in which you’re holding your tenants’ security deposits. This only applies to landlords renting out at least 5 individual units with a separate security deposit for each.
- Information regarding the presence of radon gas in or near the rental unit and reasonable notice of any history of this type. You must use a language specified by the state that details the nature and hazards associated with exposure to the gas.
FLORIDA TENANT RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES
Renters in Florida have the following basic rights under the Florida landlord-tenant laws. A right to:
- Live in a habitable property that meets the basic health and safety codes.
- Be treated in an equal and fair manner.
- Be provided proper notice prior to having their periodic lease terminated.
- Be provided proper notice prior to any changes being made to their rental agreement.
- Have repairs made within a reasonable time period.
- A proper eviction process that follows the state law.
Common responsibilities tenants have due to Florida residential landlord-tenant laws in Florida include the following:
- Maintain the unit in a safe and habitable condition.
- Not cause damage or destruction to any part of the premises.
- Maintain the peace and quiet of the neighborhood.
- Using all the provided amenities and facilities for their intended purpose.
- Pay rent on time, every month.
- Abiding by all terms of the lease.
- Notifying the landlord when looking to be away for an extended period of time or any intended absence.
- Providing proper written notice to the landlord prior to terminating their periodic lease. Written notice must be sent and received before a tenant has a right to not pay rent under Florida law.
These tenant duties are important for Florida landlords. If a tenant fails to comply or a tenant breaches any of these duties, they can be evicted.
Sometimes, when there are multiple tenants in a unit, one may fail to comply. If that’s the case, you can discuss the situation with the remaining tenant about what happens when a tenant fails to do their duties and decide what to do from there.
However, even in the case of eviction, a tenant has a right to their safety and their personal property. You cannot touch their personal property and must take it to court if they refuse to leave. If you have a good relationship with your tenant, that may help prevent this.
Another common occurrence is a tenant subletting without the landlord’s permission. The landlord’s agent may be able to help, but whatever the case, the last remaining tenant in the property may be asked to leave due to these issues.
LANDLORD RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES
As a landlord in Florida, you have the following rights as per Florida law. A right to:
- Require tenants to abide by certain rules contained in a lease.
- Screen prospective tenants prior to allowing them to rent your rental property.
- Evict a tenant for not honoring the terms of the lease agreement.
- Collect a security deposit from a tenant and withhold a portion of the security deposit for certain legally justified reasons.
- Penalize a tenant for breaking the lease without penalty.
- Be served proper written notice from a tenant looking to terminate their periodic lease agreement.
- Have a tenant pay rent on time and in full. Both the landlord and the tenant benefit from clauses such as these.
When it comes to responsibilities under Florida laws, they are as follows.
- Provide verbal or written notice at least 12 hours prior to entering an occupied rental unit.
- Provide certain mandatory disclosures to their tenants prior to leasing out their property.
- Provide a safe place for their money, whether it be when they pay rent or storing the security deposit. The tenant must know where payments such as a security deposit are being stored under Florida law.
- Follow the statewide Florida eviction process when evicting a tenant for failing to abide by certain lease terms, such as payment of rent.
- Treat every tenant equally and fairly as per the Fair Housing Act under Florida law.
- Make repairs within a reasonable period of time.
- Ensure the tenant lives in peace and quiet.
- Abide by the terms of the lease agreement and the rental law. This will also allow an easy maintenance of a good landlord-tenant relationship.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE FLORIDA LANDLORD-TENANT LAWS
Tenants in Florida have a right to the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of their rented premises as per the federal laws. Before accessing your tenant’s space, you must serve them with a notice of at least 12 hours.
And that includes instances where you may need to show the unit to prospective tenants or make repairs. The only exception to providing the notice is when entering the tenant’s unit to handle an emergency, which is covered under the law and any lease agreements.
If you were to enter your tenant’s rented unit repeatedly without notice, you’d be liable for tenant harassment. Consequently, the tenant may be able to use that as legal grounds to terminate their lease early.
MAINTENANCE & REPAIRS
Florida landlords have a duty to provide their tenants with a habitable living space under the rental law and to respond quickly as per any lease agreements. The state’s “implied warranty of habitability” requires landlords to provide tenants with certain items in order to comply with local housing, safety, and health codes.
The landlord-tenant relationship goes beyond any written rental agreement. Rental agreements state that a tenant needs access to repairs for their rental unit, but it goes beyond that.
Florida statutes and a written lease cover the upkeep and safety of the rental unit, no matter if rent payments are delayed. Unpaid rent doesn’t allow the tenant to live in a unit that violates health codes. So, you must attend to the rental unit under the laws, no matter what.
Such items that constitute an emergency or violate health codes in the dwelling unit include the following.
- Hot and cold running water.
- Working plumbing and sanitation facilities.
- Safe electrical outlets and wiring.
- A pest-free home, if addressed in the lease agreement.
- Conforming locks.
- Adequate receptacles for garbage, if renting out a multi-family residential unit.
- Safe floors, stairways, and railings.
ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS IN FLORIDA
Tenants have a right to a fair and equal opportunity to rent your home under the Florida laws. It is unlawful for Florida landlords to discriminate against their tenant based on their race, color, nationality, religion, familial status, and disability.
The Florida Fair Housing law also adds pregnancy as an extra protection to the federally protected list and needs no further notice.
As a Florida landlord, you have a right to charge tenants a security deposit. But when you do charge tenants a security deposit, Florida landlords must comply with certain regulations. Including:
- Storing the deposit in either an interest-bearing account, a normal account, or posting it as a surety bond.
- Returning the deposit to the tenant within 15 days of lease termination.
- Only making appropriate deductions to the deposit.
RENTERS RIGHTS TO WITHHOLD RENT IN FLORIDA
Renters in Florida have a right to withhold rent if repairs aren’t made within 7 days of issuing a notice about issues with the dwelling unit. They may also be able to make the repairs themselves then deduct the cost of repair from future rent payments or court costs.
SMALL CLAIMS LAWSUITS
Conflicts over the return of security deposits can be common, but a security deposit is still essential to the renting of any dwelling unit or applicable building. The tenant may think they have returned the property in good condition while the landlord may hold a different opinion, especially if they own more than one unit in the applicable building.
Consequently, the matter may end up in a small claims court. Florida small claims courts can hear lawsuits amounting to no more than $5,000. In county court, the landlord’s attorney can often recoup the security deposit money fought over during the rental period, no matter if it’s a single-family home or a condo, but it’s not guaranteed.
If a landlord intends to deduct from the security deposit due to any damage to the dwelling unit, how that’s dealt with must be specified in any rental agreements. If the tenant has missed rental payments, a Florida residential landlord must also specify if the security deposit can be used for that.
If a landlord fails to tell a tenant which Florida banking institution their security deposit is being held in or that the security deposit has been put into a separate interest-bearing account, it’s considered a breach.
If the tenant takes forcible possession of the dwelling by refusing to leave with evicted, you can recover possession of the dwelling by going to court but you may not forcibly evict them, even if you terminate their lease prior to court.
Now you are familiar with Chapter 83 of Florida Statutes regarding the rights and responsibilities each party to the lease has. It can be confusing for landlord and tenant alike, but Florida renters rights are the pinnacle of the industry. If you have any more questions, Out Fast Property Management can help!
We’re a quality Tampa property management company. Our high-quality services can help you maximize the return on your investment property. Get in touch to learn more for more! A landlord elects the very best when they choose us.
Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws in Florida 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.