As a Florida landlord, you need to know the rules and regulations when it comes to tenants breaking the lease early.
In this article, we will cover unjustified and justified reasons for early lease termination, so that you will be well-versed when it comes to your rights as well as your tenants’ rights.
Rental Agreements in Florida
Having a solid lease contract is crucial. When your tenant signs their lease, it is your responsibility as a landlord to make sure that they are aware of the penalties for unjustifiably breaking a lease, and that they are aware of their rights to justifiably break a lease.
Your lease agreement should also include how much notice a tenant must give you when ending their periodic lease in Florida. The following notice periods differ based on the type of lease agreement you’re using.
In Florida, your tenant must give you 7 days’ notice if they rent weekly, 15 days’ notice if they rent monthly, and 15 days’ notice if they rent quarterly.
Your responsibility as a landlord to re-rent the unit should also be included in the lease.
As a landlord in Florida, you are not obligated by landlord-tenant law to make a reasonable effort to re-rent the unit in an attempt to mitigate the damages. Florida landlords have the option to find a new tenant, do nothing, or invoke their right to early termination or liquidated damages.
A solid lease agreement should also include the tenant’s rights to sublet in Florida.
In Florida, your tenant is allowed to sublet unless otherwise stated in the lease agreement. If you do allow it, you can include a clause requiring your tenant to ask for your approval before subletting. You can have your tenant request your approval for a sublet by formally making the request through certified mail, emailing you, or delivering a request in-person.
If you do not agree to sublet, you must clearly state this in the rental contract. As a landlord, you have the right to reject the request based on legitimate factors. You are not allowed to refuse a sublet without acceptable reasons.
Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease in Florida
The reasons listed below are generally not enough justification (on their own) to release a Florida tenant from the lease, and as a result, provide no legal protection against penalties for not honoring the lease.
- The tenant bought a house.
- The tenant is moving in with a partner.
- The tenant is upgrading or downgrading.
- The tenant is moving to be closer to family.
- The tenant is relocating for a new job or school.
Breaking a lease for any of the above reasons without court approval or in any conditions not previously outlined can have tangible consequences for tenants. If a tenant would like to break a lease for any of these reasons, the tenant should ask the landlord to agree to a mutual termination.
Justified Reasons to Break a Lease in Florida
As a Florida landlord, you must also know the justified reasons a tenant can break a lease early. Below, you will find justified reasons for the early termination of a lease:
Early Termination Clause
If you allow your tenant to move out early in exchange for a specific amount of money or penalty fee, it is crucial that you state this clearly in the rental contract. Specify the amount of the fee and how much notice the tenant is required to give you.
If you have other conditions that you want the tenant to meet that won’t require a penalty fee, this must also be explicitly mentioned in the lease agreement.
Active Military Duty
Under federal law, a tenant has the right to break the lease early if they enter active military service after signing the rental contract. They are protected starting on the day they enter military duty and ending between 30 to 90 days after their discharge date.
To break the lease accordingly, your tenant must meet the following conditions:
- The tenants must have already signed the rental contract before they got assigned to military duty.
- The tenant must be assigned on active duty for 90 days or more.
- The tenant must deliver the written notice to the landlord with a copy of the Permanent Change of Station (PCS) or orders to deploy, or a letter from their commanding officer stating their pending assignment.
This doesn’t mean the lease will be terminated right away. Once the notice is delivered, the earliest time a lease can be terminated is 30 days after the beginning of the next lease period. For example, if the notice was delivered on the 25th of January and the rent is due on the 1st of each month, the earliest the lease can be terminated is March 1st, therefore rent still needs to be paid for the month of February.
Unit Is Uninhabitable
Most states provide specific health and safety codes that must be met by landlords, and it is the same in Florida.
Your rental property must be compliant with building and safety codes. The rental must be in good working condition and be livable. If the needs of safety and habitability are not met and the tenant has provided proper notice without their request being addressed, this situation is considered a constructive eviction.
As a landlord in Florida, you need to understand that your tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment which includes the right to privacy on the premises.
In Florida, landlords are required to provide 12 hours’ notice unless it’s an emergency, a tenant unreasonably withholds consent, or the tenant is absent from the premises.
If you violate your tenant’s privacy by repeatedly showing up at the rental property without notice, this is considered landlord harassment and the tenant would be considered constructively evicted, which is not the same as the standard Florida eviction process.
Now you are well-versed when it comes to breaking a lease in Florida. If you have any questions, please reach out to Keyrenter Tampa today. We are the leading property management company in Florida, and we’d love to work with you! Contact us at 813-510-6022.
Disclaimer: 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.