Despite your tenant’s best intentions, situations occur and a tenant may need to break their Florida lease agreement. Landlords in Florida have rights and obligations when a tenant moves out of their property early.
In today’s article, we’ll go over everything landlords need to know when a tenant is breaking a lease before the end of a tenancy in Florida. This will help you stay informed of your rights, as well as your tenant’s rights, during early lease termination.
Rental Agreement in Florida
As a landlord, having a clear and detailed lease agreement cannot be overlooked. In fact, it has the potential to either make or break your chances of running a successful rental investment property. A lease agreement can help protect you if a tenant is breaking a lease.
A comprehensive, foolproof lease in Florida is one that includes certain information. It outlines the penalties that come when a tenant unjustifiably breaks their lease agreement and states the amount of the security deposit.
It spells out how much notice a tenant must serve you prior to moving out. As per Florida law (Fla. Stat. 83.57), tenants have an obligation to provide certain lease termination notice requirements.
- A 7 days’ notice prior to terminating a week-to-week lease.
- A 15 days’ notice prior to terminating a month-to-month lease.
- A 30 days’ notice prior to terminating a quarter-to-quarter lease.
- A 60 days’ notice prior to terminating a yearly lease.
Florida tenants must also serve you the written notice in a manner specified by law, which you should state in the rental lease. That is, either by hand delivery, by mail, or by leaving the copy in a conspicuous place on the premises.
You should also include your responsibility to re-rent the unit after a tenant vacates early. Florida landlords are not required to mitigate damages as per state law. Meaning, you can leave the rental unit empty for the rest of the tenant’s lease after they move out early, and then sue them for all the remaining rent that was unpaid.
Finally, a lease agreement should also include your tenant’s right to rent out, or sublet, the unit. In Florida, if the lease doesn’t prohibit it, then your tenant would be in the clear to do so. Therefore, make sure to have a clause on subletting on your lease.
Basically, let tenants know whether it is allowed or not. If you allow it, then make sure to outline any requirements that you have. For example, whether you’d require the sublet to undergo a screening process or pay any fee.
Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease in Florida
The following reasons don’t offer tenants enough justification to breaking a lease before the end of the tenancy. And resultantly, tenants who do so don’t get any legal protection against penalties or release from rent obligation.
- Buying a house.
- Relocating for a new job or school.
- Upsizing or downsizing.
- Moving in with a partner.
- Separation or divorce.
- Moving closer to family.
If a Florida tenant breaks their lease for such reasons and without a court’s approval, they risk hefty financial penalties. If a tenant would like to break their lease before the end of the lease term for such reasons, obtaining the landlord’s permission for a mutual termination would be the most ideal scenario.
Justified Reasons to Break a Lease in Florida
As a landlord in Florida, it’s also equally important to know what reasons are legally justified for early lease termination by a tenant. The reasons are as follows.
Early Termination Clause
An early termination clause exists specifically for such a time that a tenant may need to break their lease early. You may include specific terms that would allow a tenant to terminate a lease.
Generally speaking, early termination clauses require that a tenant pay a penalty fee and provide an advance notice prior to moving out.
Active Military Duty
Active military service members who are tenants are allowed by law to terminate their lease without penalty under Federal law. However, as per the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA), the reason must either be due to deployment or permanent change of station.
In the state of Florida, a service member is defined to be either a member of the armed forces, the activated National Guard, the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, or the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
For a Florida tenant to break their lease before the end of the lease term in accordance with the act, there are certain things that they must fulfill first. For one, they must have signed the lease prior to entering active military duty. Two, their active duty must extend beyond 90 days. And three, they must serve you a copy of the orders from their commanding officer.
But even with all those requirements fulfilled, the Florida lease doesn’t end immediately. After the tenant has served you with the notice, the earliest the lease can end is 30 days after the next rent period.
Unit Is Not Habitable
Experienced Florida landlords know that providing habitable housing and having the unit up to standard with safety codes is key. If you don’t, your tenant may be able to terminate their Florida lease early and that may have an impact on your reputation.
According to Florida Habitability law (Fla. Stat. 83.51), landlords must ensure their property meets the basic health, safety and structural codes.
Landlords must act professionally at all times. Tenants can legally break their lease if the landlord repeatedly violates their privacy or safety in the rented unit. Landlord harassment can take many different forms. Such as:
- Entering your tenant’s rented unit without any advance notice.
- Locking out your tenant.
- Removing their belongings from the unit.
- Making verbal or written threats to them.
- Not following a judicial eviction process.
These actions are illegal and are taken seriously in the court of law.
With all this information in mind, you now know what and what not to do when a tenant breaks their lease. If you have a question regarding this content, require more information about the Florida landlord tenant law, or need expert help in managing your Florida rental property, Keyrenter Jacksonville can help.
Keyrenter Jacksonville is a leading property management company in Jacksonville. Our goal is to help property owners take the stress out of managing their residential rental properties. Get in touch to learn more about our full suite of property management services!
This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws 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.