Here are some Florida landlord-tenant laws real estate investors should get familiar with:
1. Fair Housing Act
According to the Fair Housing Act, Florida landlords cannot ask potential renters questions about medical history, age, any disability, familial status, ancestry, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, color or race. Tenants cannot be discriminated against due to any of these reasons. Every real estate investor is forbidden from the following:
- Refusing to rent a Florida rental property
- Setting different privileges, terms, and conditions for renting an income property
- Providing different housing facilities or services
- Falsely saying an investment property is unavailable for rental, sale, or inspection
- Making any statement in an advertisement that implies preference based on disability, sex, religion, national origin or presence of children
- Intimidating, threatening, or coercing anyone exercising their fair housing rights
- In case the tenant has a mental or physical disability, you must:
- Make reasonable adjustments to practices, policies, and rules if the renter requires them to live in the property
- Make necessary modifications to the rental home so the tenant can live comfortably
Related: Becoming a Landlord: 5 Guidelines to Being Fair to Tenants
2. Written and Unwritten Leases
Under Florida landlord-tenant laws, yearly, quarterly, monthly or weekly leases can be established in both unwritten and written form. Though an unwritten lease is legal, it is always advisable to work with a written agreement. In case a dispute or problem arises in the future, you will have evidence on paper regarding the terms of the lease.
3. Paying Rent
Florida landlord tenant laws paying rent
Florida landlord-tenant law requires tenants to pay rent on time according to the terms of the lease. However, the tenant could choose to withhold rent if the landlord fails to fix problems such as mold growth on walls or a broken heating system. In such a case, the tenant is required to give notice seven days before withholding rent. Within this period, the landlord then has a chance to address the problem.
Related: How to Deal With a Tenant Not Paying Rent
4. Condition of the Rental Property
After investing in Florida real estate, landlords are required by Florida landlord tenant laws to maintain livable conditions on all their rental properties. Pest control must be done, air conditioning must work properly, and the properties should adhere to health, building, and safety codes. Landlords are not allowed to switch off utilities in a home even if the renter has not paid the bills. Instead, failing to pay bills can be a reason to pursue eviction.
5. Lead-Based Paint and Radon Gas
Though you are not required to remove lead-based paint, Florida landlord tenant law requires you to inform tenants that it is there before they sign the lease. This is especially important for investment properties that were built before 1978. You need to provide the renter with:
- Information about other common spaces or units that have lead-based paint.
- A document about identifying and dealing with lead-based paint hazards.
- When it comes to Radon gas, Florida landlord-tenant laws require you to inform tenants via a document of the health hazards to people exposed to it over time.
6. Tenant Privacy
Landlords may enter their tenant’s homes occasionally for reasons such as repairs, inspections, improvements, decorating, or showing to contractors or potential buyers. However, you must have the tenant’s permission before doing so. The only time you can enter without consent is if there is an emergency. If you need to make repairs, the tenant should get a notice of at least 12 hours.
If you’re looking for your first or your next rental property in Florida, start your search now to find the most profitable investment properties for sale.
7. Rent Control and Rent Increase Laws
While other major markets (like the California real estate market) are enforcing rent control laws, Florida state law prohibits it. So raising rent is in a landlord’s right. Typically, however, rent increases can not be implemented on a one-year lease or more until it ends. There are laws that specify how you must deliver a rent increase notice to your tenants which include mail or personal delivery. The laws also state that you cannot increase the rent for reasons such as if a tenant requests repairs or, of course, for discriminatory purposes.
It is important to note that in 2019, a few Florida lawmakers filed bills that would allow cities to implement rent control. It’s best for Florida landlords to keep a close eye on this in 2020.
8. Breaking a Lease Agreement
Tenants are allowed to break their lease under a few specified conditions which include military service among others. When creating your tenancy agreement, you are allowed to include a lease-breaking/early termination fee. This fee cannot be more than twice the monthly rental rate. The prospective renter may refuse the fee at which point you can decide whether or not you wish to rent to them.
When either the tenant or landlord wishes to opt for early lease termination, notice must be given. Here is the length of time required for an advance notice under Florida landlord tenant laws:
- Annual lease – 3 months prior to the end of the lease term
- Quarterly lease – 45 days prior to the end of the quarter
- Month-to-month lease – 15 days before the end of the month
- Week-to-week lease – 7 days' notice
9. Security Deposit Laws
Under Florida law, there is no limit to the amount of security deposit you can request. However, you need to check with local city laws as they may exist in your jurisdiction. A landlord is allowed to keep the security deposit to cover unpaid rent or damage to rental property (beyond wear and tear). In regards to the security deposit return, it must be done within 15 to 60 days from when the tenant moves out of the rental property.
10. Eviction of a Tenant
According to Florida landlord tenant laws, a landlord is only allowed to begin the eviction process when a tenant has failed to adhere to the terms of the lease. In case a tenant has not paid rent by the due date, the landlord must give a grace period of three days for full payment to be made. While the law doesn’t require landlords to accept a partial payment, they could choose to do so based on a personal agreement with the tenant.
If the tenant violates the lease by causing damage to the rental home, the landlord is required to give seven days for the problem to be addressed. When this period elapses, the landlord can then pursue eviction. After being served papers, the tenant has five days to file a dispute. The court will then decide whether the eviction should proceed or not.
Besides defaulting on rent or damaging rental property, landlords can issue an eviction notice due to unauthorized visitors on the property. This usually happens when more people are living in the home full time than is allowed in the lease. Such a situation could lead to more than normal wear and tear to the rental property.