With a population exceeding 20 million people, Florida is arguably one of the largest states in the country. To help bring order to this enormous population, the state has put together extensive and elaborate guidelines for landlord and tenants.
The Florida landlord-tenant law guides the relationship between tenants and landlords in the state.
The following is everything that landlords and tenants in Florida need to know about the state’s landlord-tenant laws.
Landlord Entry in Florida
In Florida, landlords cannot just enter the tenant’s premises as they wish. Tenants have the right to the quiet enjoyment of their homes.
To enter a tenant’s home, landlords need to notify their tenants first. For maintenance and repairs, landlords must give at least a 12 hours’ notice. For all other situations such as property inspections, the law simply says the notice must be “within reason.”
Also, the notice must be written and the reason for the entry must be reasonable. For example, to show the unit to prospective tenants, to repair any damage, or to inspect the unit.
The entry times must also be practical. For instance, landlords can only request entry during the following times and days: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during weekdays and between 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. during weekends.
There are certain situations, however, when a notice isn’t necessary. These include reasons such as when the tenant has abandoned the unit or during emergencies like fire or floods.
Florida Security Deposit Laws
Most residential leases and rental agreements in Florida require a security deposit. Usually, this is equivalent to one month’s rent, this is a dollar amount that cushions the landlord from the tenant’s lease violations.
Here are common questions about Florida’s security deposit laws:
Is there a security deposit limit in Florida?
No, there is not. Landlords are free to charge any amount they see fit. That said, most landlords usually charge the equivalent of two months’ rent as a security deposit.
Do landlords have to notify tenants after receipt of their deposit?
Yes, they do. Landlords must notify their tenants within thirty days after receiving their security deposit.
How should landlords store tenant’s security deposits?
Landlords have three options when it comes to storing the tenant’s security deposit. They can post a surety bond for the security deposit amount, or $50,000, whichever is less. Or, they can place the tenant’s deposit in either an interest- bearing or non-interest-bearing account.
When should Florida landlords return a tenant’s security deposit?
Landlords have between 15 to 30 days once the tenant moves out to return their security deposit.
The Right to Fair Housing in Florida
Tenants in Florida are protected by the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968. The sole objective of this act is to end housing-related discrimination.
In Florida, the act prohibits discrimination based on 7 protected classes. The classes are as follows:
- National origin
- Familial status
The following are examples of comments or questions that may breach the act.
- Do you go to the church in this neighborhood?
- Where do your kids go to school?
- I don’t allow animals, so I can’t allow your service dog.
- Where were your parents born?
- I don’t feel safe renting to a woman on the first floor?
- You would love the area. A lot of minorities live here.
Landlord Retaliation in Florida
Retaliation by a landlord against a tenant is illegal in most areas.
Examples of landlord retaliation in Florida include:
- An increase in the amount of rent
- A decrease in the number of services offered to the tenant
- An eviction lawsuit against a tenant
- Refusal by the landlord to make needed repairs
- Tenant harassment or intimidation
Landlord retaliation oftentimes stems from certain acts by the tenant.
Such acts include:
- Becoming a member or supporting or creating a tenant’s union or other organizations championing for the rights of tenants.
- The tenant complaining about the property’s safety, health or building code violations to a government or housing authority.
- Pursuing a right granted to them by the local or federal fair housing laws.
- Complaining to the landlord or government or local agency about the landlord’s inability to meet their responsibilities.
Required Landlord Disclosures in Florida
Under Florida law, landlords must disclose specific information to tenants (usually in the lease or rental agreement).
The following are some of the disclosures:
- The identity of the person authorized to manage the premises and receive legal papers, such as the property manager
- The presence of radon gas
- The availability of fire protection
- Details on security deposits, such as where the deposit will be held and the landlord’s use and the terms of the return of the security deposit
Small Claims Lawsuits in Florida
Court procedures in a small claims court are simple, quick, informal and inexpensive. Most people who appear in small claims court represent themselves and don’t have legal representation.
The purpose of the court is to hear disputes involving relatively small amounts of money. For instance, if you want to resolve a security deposit issue with your landlord.
The amount you can sue in a small claims court varies state by state. In Florida, the amount is $5,000 or less.
Florida Termination and Eviction Rules
In Florida, landlords can terminate and evict a tenant for a variety of reasons. The most common reasons include:
- The tenant commits an illegal act within the property
- The tenant violating the lease or rental agreement
- Nonpayment of rent
- Subleasing the property when the lease is against it
To evict a tenant based on the aforementioned reasons, the landlord must first issue the tenant with a proper notice.
Such notices are as follows:
- For nonpayment of rent, the landlord must issue the tenant with a 3-Day Pay Rent or Quit notice. The notice tells the tenant that they have three days to pay rent or vacate the premises.
- For other lease violations, the landlord must give the tenant a 7-Day Notice to Cure. The notice tells the tenant that they need to correct the lease violation within seven days or else leave.
- For serious lease violations like unreasonable disturbances or excessive property damage, the landlord must issue the tenant a 7-Day Unconditional Quit notice.
There you have it!
An overview of the landlord-tenant laws in Florida.
If you have more questions or need further clarification, please seek professional services.