Landlord and Tenant Law in Florida

Landlord Tenant Law is a contractual relationship between someone who owns property and someone that wants a temporary use of that property. Generally speaking, there are two general categories of the landlord and tenant relationship.

  1. Residential tenancies which are governed under Florida Statute Chapter 83 (83.001 – 83.251) andlandlord tenant law
  2. Commercial tenancies which are governed under Florida Statutes 83.40 – 83.682

In addition to the laws and procedures established by Florida Law as prescribed by Statute, the landlord and tenants usually enter into a written contract or lease which further establishes the relationship among the parties. Generally speaking, if a legal requirement is provided by Statute, the Statute overwrites the contract, unless it is a default statute.

Some of the issues which commonly arise in the relationship between landlord and tenant include:

There are several issues that may arise between a landlord and his/her tenant. For instance, issues related to repairs, security deposit refund, rent arrears, service charges, unsuitability of property, pets and anti-social behavior.

If a dispute arises between a property owner and a renter, it is advisable for both the parties to seek legal advice regarding their rights and responsibilities. Subsequently, both can make informed decisions about their next move.

Third party mediation can also be sought to resolve a dispute of this nature. Taking a litigious route to the same would result in spiraling expenses and hampering of day to day life activities to a considerable extent.

Breaches by Landlord

Breaches of the law or the lease agreement by the landlord may provide certain defenses to a tenant for tenant’s own breaches such as failure to pay rent. In gross situations, the term “slumlord” is used for an unscrupulous landlord who reaps profit from his property with no concerns for renters, neighborhood or long-term interests of their own. These are usually absentee landlords, who own more than a single property, and minimize property maintenance expenses to maximize profit margin at the expense of safety and comfort of the tenant.

Usually, landlords maintain their property well to attract tenants who can pay higher rents.

In order for the landlord’s acts or neglect to constitute a breach, usually one of the following types of conditions should exist:

  • Sanitation issues.
  • Structurally unsafe exteriors, roof, walls, porches or railings.
  • Perilous gas or electrical connections
  • Dearth of safe, quick egress.
  • Accumulation of any kind of waste, combustible materials, dangerous liquids or explosive materials.

Over-extending Lease

Some landlords offer tenants to enter into a lengthy multi-year leases by offering better terms. This can, however, turn out to be a double-edged sword, in the form of a high early termination penalty, if the tenant wants to or needs to move out before the lease expires. Options, rather than obligatory terms is usually a viable option.

Hence, it is advisable to start with a two-year lease at the most, to avoid landlord / tenant issues in the future.

Security Deposits

Every state in the US allows a landlord to ask for a security deposit from the tenant. However, every state frames different laws for doing that. A property owner must check with an experience local attorney to ensure the right procedures are followed.

Following are the factors pertaining to security deposits must be considered:Security Deposit under Florida Law

  • Amount of security deposit
  • Where security deposit is to be held
  • Is deposit in an interest bearing account?
  • Any part of the deposit non-refundable
  • What constitutes normal wear and tear, versus legitimate damages caused onto the property
  • The notices required by both tenant and landlord.

Termination of Lease 

Early termination of rental lease agreement may result in heavy penalties for the landlord or tenant. The policy varies from agreement to agreement, and the particulars of the case. If a tenant fails to pay the lease amount, and the tenant refuses to leave, then an eviction process needs to be followed.