In Florida and in all states, tenants pay rent in order to live in and enjoy their rental unit. Under Florida’s landlord-tenant law, there are certain disclosures about the rent that every tenant has the right to know and understand. This includes when rent is due, the length of the tenancy, and the procedures for increasing rent.
Rent Basics in Lease Agreement
A lease agreement is a binding contract between a landlord and a tenant. The more detailed and specific the information that is included in this contract, the less of a chance of misunderstandings between landlord and tenant. The landlord should detail the entire rent process in the lease document, from the amount of rent due to late fees if the rent has not been paid on time.
- Amount of rent: The lease should state the exact dollar amount that is due during each rent period.
- When rent is due: The lease should state the exact day of the week, month, or year that the periodic rent is due. For example, if the rent is due on the first of every month, the lease should specifically state this.
- Length of tenancy: The duration of the lease should be an included clause in the lease agreement. For example: "This lease is valid for one year, from January 1 to December 31. After that time, the lease will automatically become a month-to-month lease."
- Forms of payment accepted as rent: The landlord should include what types of payment they will accept as rent to avoid confusion. Landlords must usually accept at least two different forms of payment, such as a money order or an electronic funds deposit.
- Where rent will be paid: The lease should specifically state how the rent will be collected. Will the landlord stop by the property each month? Is there an office the tenant can bring the rent to? Are payments through the mail acceptable?
- Grace period: Florida landlords must determine if they will give their tenants a grace period. This is a period after the rent due date where the tenant will not be penalized. For example, a tenant has five days after the actual rent due date to pay their rent without the rent being considered late.
- Late Fees: Another issue to be listed in the lease is if you will charge a late fee. This is the additional amount the tenant must pay if they do not pay their rent on the due date or during the grace period if you have one.
Rent Basics When Not Specifically Listed in Lease
Under Florida state law, if no other terms are specifically spelled out in the lease agreement, then standard state-mandated terms will apply.
The tenant is required to pay the rent each period without the landlord having to give notice or demand payment. Rent is due at the beginning of each rent period.
The length of tenancy is determined by when the rent is due. If the tenant pays rent each week then they are a weekly tenant. Should the tenant pays rent each month, they are considered a monthly tenant. Likewise, a tenant who pays rent each quarter is a quarterly tenant, and those that pay yearly rent are yearly tenants.
In Florida, if a landlord has a tenant who resides in a unit as an employee and lives rent-free, then the length of the tenancy is determined by when the landlord pays the tenant. If the employee is paid every week, then they are a weekly tenant; if they are paid every month they are a monthly tenant, and so on. If the employee no longer works for the landlord, then the tenant must begin paying the landlord rent from the day they are no longer an employee until the day they move out of the unit.
Bounced Check Fees
In Florida, a landlord is entitled to an additional fee if a rent check from a tenant bounces. The fee will be determined by the amount of the check.
- $50 and under: Landlord is entitled to an addition $25 service charge.
- Between $51 and $300: Landlord is entitled to an additional $30 service charge.
- Checks more than $300: Landlords are entitled to an additional $40 service charge or five percent of the value of the check, whichever is greater.
Florida’s law does not require a landlord to have a grace period for rent collection. It is up to the landlord to offer one. Offering a five- to seven-day grace period after the rent due date is common.
Late Rent Fee in Florida
Florida law does not have any requirements on if and how much a landlord can charge a late fee. This would be the amount in addition to the monthly rent that the tenant must pay if their rent is late.
Late fees must be reasonable. Charging $1,000 as a late fee would be ridiculous. A $50 late fee would usually be considered reasonable. However, the higher the amount of rent, the more you could charge a late fee.
Florida law does not specifically list how much notice a landlord must give to increase a tenant’s rent. To terminate a monthly lease, a landlord must give the tenant 15 days prior notice, and to terminate a yearly lease, the landlord must give the tenant 60 days prior notice. It can, therefore, be assumed that these 15- and 60-day notification periods would be the same for increasing a tenant’s rent. There is also no requirement on how much a landlord can increase a tenant’s rent.
Notice to Terminate for Nonpayment
If the tenant has not paid their rent by the due date or within the grace period, the landlord can provide the tenant with a written notice to pay the rent or quit. This written notice must be mailed or hand-delivered to the tenant. If the tenant has not done either within three business days of receiving the notice, then the landlord can file to terminate the lease agreement.
Termination of Lease Agreement
To terminate a lease, a landlord must provide a weekly tenant with at least 7 days’ notice, a monthly tenant with at least 15 days’ notice, and a yearly tenant with at least 60 days’ notice