Landlord-tenant laws are the complete guidelines that dictate what you can and cannot do while also giving instruction to the tenants who live in your units. Your responsibilities as a landlord extend beyond simply renting out your property; you must also follow the codes that are laid out by your state’s government.
While these guidelines can be useful when you aren’t sure what to do in a specific situation, they can also be quite overwhelming. After all, the rental codes for most states are very long, and the specific municipality that you live in might have even more guidelines to follow.
Today, we’ll be covering some of the most important sections of the Florida landlord tenant law. From rental agreements to the types of air conditioning units that may be required on your property, we’ll do our best to give you the information that you need while linking you to the full laws so that you can gain a deeper understanding when necessary.
Let’s get to it!
A Table of Contents For Landlord Tenant Law, Florida
- Tenant Screening Procedures
- Rental Agreements
- Security Deposits
- Maintenance & Pricing
- Access to Property Regulations
- Managing Utilities
- Eviction Laws
- Notice of Ending Lease
- Application Fees
- Bad Checks
Tenant Screening Procedures
Tenant screening is often the first step in the rental process, and it is important that you follow the rules about how you are permitted to screen tenants.
Florida doesn’t have specific guidelines on what you can or cannot ask tenants when screening them, so you should follow HUD’s rules on what you cannot ask about:
- National Origin
- Familial status
It is, however, important that you make sure that you get consent to run a comprehensive background and rental history verification check. The best way to get this consent is to include it as part of the application. Getting this information will protect you from any privacy issues since you will be requesting and reading personal information about every prospective tenant.
Written rental agreements are not required in Florida unless you are renting out a unit for more than twelve months.
That being said, most landlords find that it is more productive to have a written rather than an oral agreement in case there are any issues or disagreements between themselves and their tenants. A signed and written agreement is likely to be believed over an oral one, and you can protect yourself by using a written lease.
Generally, including all of the following information in a lease is beneficial:
- Monthly rent cost
- When & where rent is due
- How rent should be paid
- Notice required when increasing rent
- How long the grace period is
- Fees for bad checks
- Rules on termination for unpaid rent
Florida law does not require that you give a grace period on rental payments. Still, most landlords in Florida offer between 5 and 7 days as a courtesy grace period for late rent payments. It is important that you clarify whether or not you have a grace period in the lease agreement.
Should you need to evict a tenant for unpaid rent, this grace period should be clearly outlined in your agreement to make your case clear.
Unlike some other states, Florida does not have a limit on the amount that can be collected as a security deposit. That being said, many municipalities and cities have implemented their own limits on security deposits, so you will want to find out if these limitations exist in your area before setting a deposit amount.
You can find all of the information about Florida landlord tenant law security deposit information in this statute.
When you collect a deposit in Florida, you must give some very specific information about the money to the tenant within 30 days of receiving it:
- Information about where the money will be held
- Whether or not the money will be in an interest-bearing account or not
- How much interest will be paid out and when, if applicable
- Confirmation that the money will not be mixed with other money
If the money is held in an interest-bearing account, you must pay either 75% of the interest collected to the tenant or a flat rate of 5% interest. This amount must be either paid out or subtracted from the tenant’s rent yearly. If the tenant breaks the lease early, you can keep the collected interest.
Returning the Deposit
According to Florida law, you must return the security deposit within 15 days of the tenant leaving if you are not going to be withholding any part of the deposit. If you plan to do some withholding, you have 30 days to do so.
Withholding the Deposit
It is possible to keep deductions out of the security deposit in Florida for damages and the resulting repairs that are necessary. You must, however, notify the tenant about these deductions before you return the security deposit.
Once this notice is given to the tenant, they have 15 days to object to the claims. If they do not object within this time period, you may proceed with the claim to the security deposit.
When it comes to rent prices in Florida, there are no limits to what a landlord can charge to rent out a unit. There are also no rent control areas, so you do not have to worry about following any strict rent control regulations that you may come across in other states.
There are no regulations on how much you may or may not increase rent by in Florida. If you decide to increase rent, it is generally accepted that you must give 15 days notice on monthly leases and 60 days notice on yearly leases. This is based on the fact that 15- and 60-days notice are required for lease termination as well.
If your tenant pays rent late, you may charge a late fee. There is no limit to how much the late fee can cost in Florida, but state law does require that the specific late fee amounts that will be required should be outlined in the rental agreement. Preferably, this will be in writing even if your rental period is less than one year.
If you do not have a late fee included on your lease agreement, you may not charge your tenants for a late fee, no matter how reasonable it may be.
Maintenance & Pricing
You as a landlord are responsible for keeping the units that you manage up to local and current health and safety codes. If there are no specific codes in your area, Florida law specifies that you must:
- “Maintain the roofs, windows, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, foundations, and all other structural components in good repair and capable of resisting normal forces and loads and the plumbing in reasonable working condition. The landlord, at commencement of the tenancy, must ensure that screens are installed in a reasonable condition. Thereafter, the landlord must repair damage to screens once annually, when necessary, until termination of the rental agreement.”
Additionally, there are some more responsibilities and maintenance areas that you are responsible for unless your property is a single-family home or duplex:
- Extermination of rats, mice, roaches, ants, wood-destroying organisms, and bedbugs
- Locks and keys
- Clean, safe common areas
- Outside garbage receptacles & removal
- Functioning heat during winter, running water, and hot water
If you do not make repairs that fall into these categories when notified by the tenant, you are at risk of them withholding rent. Tenants in Florida have the right to withhold rent if you do not acknowledge or begin addressing issues within 7 days of receiving a written notice from your tenant.
Once you repair the issues, the tenant must still pay this withheld rent to you.
Florida landlords are not required to provide major appliances outside of heating appliances, but most do include ovens, air conditioners, and other essentials.
That being said, Florida landlord tenant law air conditioning regulations are slim. Despite common beliefs, Florida law does not require that the landlord provide air conditioning or repairs to any of the add-on appliances on the properties.
The only time that a landlord is responsible to repair non-necessary appliances is if these repairs are included in the lease terms, so you will want to be sure that you add a clause about this in your lease to keep things clear to all parties.
Access to Property Regulations
You as the landlord have a right to be able to enter your properties in Florida, and the tenants living in your units are not allowed to deny this right.
Still, there are some regulations about when you can enter and what type of notice to the tenant is required.
You are allowed to enter the property for the following reasons:
- For repairs or agreed upon services
- To show the property to prospective tenants/buyers
- To ensure the property is protected if the tenant is absent for one-half of the rental period (i.e., more than 15 days for monthly leasers)
- Show the property to contractors
Though you are allowed to enter for repairs, you must give the tenant at least 12 hours of notice, and the repairs must happen between 7:30 AM and 8:00 PM.
You can enter the property at any time in the following situations without providing any previous notice to the tenant
- If they give you permission to do so
- In emergencies
- If the tenant is unreasonably withholding consent
- If they have been absent from the property for more than one-half of their rental period and you need to protect the property
While you may be required to do some upkeep on home appliances in your units, you are not responsible to cover garbage removal, water, fuel, or utilities. You can charge for these things as outlined in your rental agreements; the state of Florida does not have specific regulations about this.
Nonpayment of Rent
In Florida, tenants only have three days to pay you for late rent before you can file for eviction. If your tenant is not paying, it is important that you mail them a 3-day notice to pay or quit and post it on their door as well.
If they do not pay you within three days or otherwise respond to the notice with a counteractive complaint, you have the right to file for eviction.
If they pay the full amount within or after the three days and you accept the payment, you will be waiving the right to evict them at that particular time. If, however, they only pay you a partial amount, you can give them a new 3-day notice that outlines the remaining balance due. If they cannot finish paying you within three days, you can then file for eviction.
The full rules about when you can file for eviction and how much notice you must give in each situation can be found here.
Damages & Contract Breaches
In cases where the tenant has intentionally damaged the property or caused large disturbances, you can give them a 7-day notice to quit, which will require that they move out within seven days. Giving this notice in this situation does not give the tenant a chance to repair things; they simply must move out.
In cases where the tenant is in violation of the lease agreement by bringing pets or unapproved roommates into the unit, you can give them a 7-day notice to fix or quit the property. This notice gives tenants seven days to fix the breach. If they do not fix it, they must move out or you can evict them.
You can read the full statutes of termination and eviction in Florida here.
Notice of Ending Lease
Landlords in Florida must give the following notice of ending lease to different types of tenants:
- Weekly tenant: 7 days’ notice
- Monthly tenant: 15 days’ notice
- Yearly tenant: 60 days’ notice
This notice must be given as a written notice, and it should also be posted at the property to confirm that the tenant receives it.
If a tenant decides to terminate the lease, they must give the same amount of notice to the landlord depending on whether they are renting weekly, monthly, or yearly.
If you have not properly fulfilled your duties as a landlord as outlined in the repairs section, the tenant may be able to move out without notice according to Florida landlord tenant law breaking lease measures.
Like many other fees that you may be charging as a landlord in Florida, the state does not restrict how much that you can charge for an application fee.
Typically, landlords try to limit this amount to be an average out-of-pocket expense for their ideal tenant. If you charge too much, you may scare away tenants, but you should make sure that you charge enough to cover the cost of a tenant screening and background check service.
Florida landlord tenant law outlines how much money you are entitled to if one of your tenants’ checks bounces.
The law states that this service charge amount is determined by how much the check was for:
- More than $300: $40 or 5% of the check’s value
- Between $51 and $300: $30
- Under $50: $25
These fees may only be charged if they are disclosed in the lease agreement.
There are two important things that you need to remember:
- Landlord tenant law is constantly being modified. Check in with your local agencies for the latest updates, or view this year’s new statutes here.
- Your local city code may have stricter regulations on some aspects of these laws. Be sure to read up on your local area’s rules as well.
If you want a compact pamphlet to give to your tenants about the general rights of both tenants and landlords, these resources from The Florida Bar are very helpful.
With this information on hand to back you up, you’ll always be ready to tackle complicated issues that you may encounter as a landlord. Remember that if anything is confusing, you can always reach out to the local landlord or apartment associations to help with further clarifications!