A lease is a binding agreement that stipulates the terms of a relationship between a landlord and a tenant. Breaking a lease can have serious consequences for tenants. However, there are also some valid and acceptable reasons to break a lease for your renters.
Change is inevitable and certain opportunities can arise out of the blue. As a landlord, you should be looking for ways to accommodate your tenants when possible.
This article will focus on when it is legally justified to break a lease in Florida. Knowing your rights if you’re a landlord can prevent financial loss and help you know how to act in any situation that arises.
Because staying on top of lease procedures can be difficult, many landlords in the Orlando area choose to enlist the services of an experienced local property management company.
When Breaking a Lease Agreement is Legally Justified in Florida
Early Termination Clause
Leasing agreements can provide a legal exit to the lease. However, a landlord will typically include particular conditions to be adhered to by the renter.
For example, some landlords allow breaking a lease in Florida with a simple one month notice.
Others require tenants to pay a month’s rent before they can terminate the tenancy. If this is stipulated in the contract and the tenant meets the requirements, then they can end the lease with no issue.
Offering an early termination clause can be a good incentive offered by landlords looking to attract renters, but it can limit your stability as a landlord.
Uninhabitable Rental Property
A Florida landlord is required to present a livable rental space. The units you rent out needs to be safe, clean, and habitable.
The building must also meet local safety standards to protect the tenant. If it is determined that your property is uninhabitable, tenants can end their leases without consequence.
Landlord Harassment or Invasion of Privacy
If a tenant is unable to use basic utilities when their service is cut off by their landlord, this can count as harassment.
A renter can also break a lease when their privacy is intruded upon.
Let’s say a landlord enters the rental property with no notice to inspect it. This can be valid grounds to terminate the lease early.
In Florida, a landlord must provide at least 12 hours notice prior to accessing the property. Any notice less than that is unacceptable under the law.
Active Military Duty of Tenant
Tenants who are active service members can break their leases legally as long as they send a written notice to properly inform the Florida tenant.
An attachment of the deployment orders or a letter provided by the service member’s superior is necessary. This letter must give details on when the deployment is due.
They are also required to give proof that they’ll be on active duty within the next 90 days.
Breaking a lease because of a military deployment is generally only acceptable when the tenant can prove that the lease was signed in advance of the deployment.
How Can Florida Landlords Evict Tenants?
Even if your eviction may be justified, landlords are not allowed to perform the following illegal actions:
Shutting down the rental’s basic utilities such as water and electricity.
Altering the locks of the rental unit to limit a tenant’s access.
Getting rid of main doors and major parts of the unit or otherwise limiting the habitability of the property.
Landlords are required to comply with the proper eviction process. Specific notices must be sent to tenants.
If the renter fails to pay the rent, a 3-day notice is applicable to make the payment or leave the rental.
If the renter commits a violation then a 7-day notice applies to cure the violation or leave the property in Florida.
Tenant Rights and Duties When Signing a Lease in Florida
Florida's landlord-tenant law stipulates that landlords must issue the necessary notices prior to ending the tenancy. The tenant is entitled to receive a 3-day notice to pay the rent.
If a tenant fails to pay up within the prescribed period, the tenant can leave. If the renter refuses to move out, the Florida landlord can go to court and file for eviction.
If a tenant is found to be guilty of conducting illegal activities, the Florida landlord can serve a 7-day unconditional quit notice. This doesn’t leave the renter with any other choice but to leave the rental premises.
Tenants must understand that they're legally bound to make rental payments for the whole length of the leasing contract.
Landlord’s Duty to Find a New Tenant in Florida
The rules are landlord-friendly when it comes to breaking leases in Florida. This means a landlord can choose whether to actively look for a new tenant or not.
If a new tenant isn't found, the tenant who broke their lease is responsible for paying the entire rent for the leasing term period.
As a landlord, it's advisable to fill your vacant units after tenants leave rather than trying to collect rent for months on end from tenants who broke their leases.
Breaking a Lease in Florida: The Bottom Line
As a landlord in Florida, you should make every attempt to come to a workable solution with your tenants when it comes to their leases.
Often it is possible to make a compromise that works for both parties and helps you sidestep conflict or time-consuming legal troubles.
For help with lease agreements and more, you may wish to enlist the help of an Orlando property management company.
Reminder: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws frequently 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.