As a landlord in Florida, you must know the rules and regulations when it comes to tenants breaking a lease. In this article, we will cover unjustified and justified reasons for early lease termination so that you will be well informed when it comes to your rights as well as your tenants’ rights.
Rental Agreement in Florida
Having a clear rental agreement is essential. 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 for justifiably breaking a lease, as well as the possibility of eviction.
Your rental agreement should also include how much notice a tenant must give you when ending their periodic lease in Florida. In the state of Florida, your tenant must give you the following notice:
In Florida, tenants are required to provide written notice for lease termination. The number of days required for the notice will depend on the length of tenancy, such as follows:
- 7 days’ notice for Florida tenants who rent on a weekly basis
- 15 days' notice for tenants who rent on a monthly basis
- Not less than 30 days’ notice for tenants who rent on a quarterly basis
- Not less than 60 days’ notice for tenants who rent on a yearly basis
You should also include your responsibility as a landlord to re-rent the unit.
There is no statute under Florida law that requires landlords to take reasonable steps to re-rent the unit immediately. It is not the responsibility of the landlords in Florida to find new tenants for the rental property when the existing tenants break their lease.
Finally, a solid lease agreement should also include the tenant’s rights to sublet in Florida.
According to Florida law, it is possible for tenants to sublet the rental unit. However, landlords have the right to prohibit subletting, as long as this is clearly stated in the rental agreement. Florida landlords may also require tenants to get approval for subletting by including this clause in the lease agreement.
Tenants should send a letter requesting the landlord’s approval to sublet the rental unit through certified mail with a return receipt. Any breaking of this could be followed by a deduction to the deposit or eviction. Tenants should include the following important information in the request to sublet:
- Tenant’s reason for subletting or leaving permanently
- Written consent of any co-tenant
- Tenant’s new address during the sublease
- Name of proposed assignee or subtenant
- Permanent home address of the proposed subtenant or assignee
- A copy of the proposed sublease
- Terms of the sublet agreement
If you do not want to allow sublease, then it’s crucial to state this clearly in the lease agreement. It’s important to note that Florida landlords can only deny the tenant’s sublet request or reject the proposed subtenant for legitimate reasons. Florida law clearly states that landlords cannot refuse a sublease without acceptable reasons.
Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease in Florida
The below reasons 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 relocating for a new job or school
- The tenant is upgrading or downgrading
- The tenant is moving in with a partner
- The tenant is moving to be closer to family
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 in Florida. 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 landlord in Florida, you must know the justified reasons for a tenant to break a lease early. Below, you will find justified reasons for early termination of a lease:
- Active Military Duty: If your tenants enter the military and become active service members, they may be allowed to break the lease if they are relocated due to deployment or a permanent change of station.
Active service members are protected from penalties for breaking a lease starting on the date of entering duty up to between 30 to 90 days after the date of discharge.
To justify the breaking of a lease in accordance with the relief act, the following conditions must be met:
- The tenants should have signed the lease agreement before entering active duty
- The tenant who is an active service member should remain on active duty for at least the next 90 days
- The tenant must deliver a written notice to the landlord with a copy of the orders to deploy or Permanent Change of Station (PCS), or a letter from their commanding officer stating their pending deployment
- Early Termination Clause: As a landlord in Florida, you can allow a tenant to pre-terminate a lease for an agreed penalty fee. Just make sure to include all terms related to this in the lease contract, including the amount of penalty, as well as the required number of days of notice.
- Violation of the Lease Agreement and/or Landlord-Tenant Law: Landlords in Florida should know and understand the landlord-tenant law to avoid any violations. If a landlord violates any provisions in the law or the lease agreement, the tenant may be allowed to break the lease and be relieved from their own obligations.
- Other Acceptable Reasons: Florida tenants may have other justifiable reasons to pre-terminate a lease, including domestic violence, senior citizen health issues, illegal or unenforceable contracts, and/or non-compliance with mandatory disclosures.
Now you are well-versed when it comes to breaking a lease in Florida! If you have any questions, please reach out to us here at Ocean Blue Property Management today. We are a leading property management company in Tampa and have been in business for 15 years. We’d love to work with you too! Contact us today.