Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, it’s important to understand Florida’s landlord-tenant laws. This can help you avoid running into future problems for ignoring your responsibilities. As the saying goes, “ignorance of the law excuses no one.”
Here’s an overview of Florida’s landlord-tenant laws so that you can get familiar with them:
Landlord’s requirement for disclosures.
In Florida, landlords must provide tenants with certain disclosures before they move in or sign a lease. Some of the information they must disclose include:
Details about their security deposit.
A tenant has the right to information on their security deposit. They need to know whether their deposit is kept at an interest or non-interest-bearing account within 30 days of the deposit receipt. They must know the name of the account as well as the time and rate of interest payments. The landlord must also attach a copy of the Florida security deposit statutes to their lease agreement.
The identity of the landlord and/or property management company.
A tenant must know who their landlord is, as well as the identity of anyone the landlord has to act on their behalf. Landlords often hire property management companies, such as Florida Property Management & Sales.
Tenants should know the identity of the company and the team members they will be in contact with. Landlords are required to inform their tenants where demands and notices should be sent and received. They should include this in the lease agreement and provide it to the tenant before they move in.
Details of any existing property damages.
Tenants must be informed of the existing damages to the rental property. Tenants have the right to a habitable place of living, therefore, they are allowed to make requests to fix any of these damages.
For example, a landlord has revealed that their AC unit isn’t working properly. Their tenant can request to have it fixed so that they’ll experience comfort while living in the rental property, especially if it’s a particularly humid period.
Florida rental laws
In Florida, the lease agreement should contain the following:
- Rent amount. A landlord can specify any amount since limits are not imposed by the state of Florida.
- Where tenants can pay their rent.
- When they should pay rent. Landlords should be specific and include policies regarding due dates that fall on holidays and/or weekends.
- How the rent should be paid. A landlord should specify if tenants have the option to pay by check, money order, cash, or online via credit card or direct deposit.
- The time period required for notices.
- Fees for bounced checks.
- Penalties for late payments, including possible termination.
Florida tenants are required by law to pay their overdue rent or move out of the property within 3 days. After the 3 days have passed, a landlord has the option to file an eviction if the tenant has done neither of those things.
A landlord should include these details in the lease agreement. This helps to avoid possible conflicts by clarifying landlord and tenant duties.
A tenant’s right to withhold their rent.
There are situations where a tenant can legally withhold their rent payment. If a tenant asks for a repair of an issue that poses a health and safety hazard and the landlord has not fixed it yet, the tenant can withhold payment until the repair is completed.
Landlords must ensure that tenants have a safe and habitable place to live. This involves making sure their property meets Florida State Health Codes. If they do not, tenants can break their lease agreement and defend themselves well in court.
Issues such as leaky roofs, damaged or cracked windows, broken heaters, or pest infestations should be taken care of by the landlord immediately.
Security deposit limits & returns.
Although Florida State laws do not impose any security deposit limits on a landlord, city and county laws might. A landlord must determine the local laws of the area their property is in and follow them accordingly.
In Florida, there are laws that landlords must follow in terms of returning the security deposit to their tenants. Landlords are given 15 to 60 days to refund the security deposit once a tenant has left the rental premises and returned the key(s) to the landlord. Landlords must provide prior notice on deductions from the security deposits of their tenants.
Filing security deposit lawsuits in a small claims court in Florida.
If there are disputes regarding the security deposit, tenants have the option to file a lawsuit in Florida’s small claims court. Most landlord-tenant conflicts come from landlords withholding the security deposit.
A judge will decide the case within a month or two. The tenant needs to submit a statement stating how much their landlord owes them. This includes all fees and any interests they claim are due to them.
Tenants also need to provide copies of the following: a demand letter that contains their communication with the landlord regarding the security deposit and the signed leasing agreement that contained all the state-required disclosures.
Additionally, they need to present receipts or any documentation relating to their security deposit and fees they’ve paid to their landlord. Photos and videos of the property from the start and end of their lease are useful for a tenant’s case.
The bottom line
Other state laws in Florida to make note of are the Fair Housing Act, Tenants Protection when a landlord retaliates against the tenant, and termination/eviction rules.
Landlords and tenants should also pay attention to ordinances for the city and county the rental property is in. These ordinances often outline local health and safety standards. It’s accessible on local government websites and something both parties should be aware of.
This list of landlord-tenant laws in Florida is not extensive. More details can be found upon reviewing each individual statute. What’s important is to know your right as either a tenant or a landlord in FL.
Additionally, if you’d benefit from the services of a professional property management company, contact us today!