With nearly 21 million people, Florida is one of the largest states in the country by population. Florida has put together an extensive set of landlord-tenant laws to help bring order to the millions of renters and property owners in the state. Here are five rights that every Florida landlord and tenant should become familiar with.
The Right to Fair Housing in Florida
Florida tenants, like those in other states, are protected by the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The goal of this act is to end discrimination in any housing-related activity. Landlords in the state must make sure they treat all tenants equally, especially those tenants that are members of the following seven protected classes:
- Disability (physical and mental)
- Familial status
- National origin
Florida’s landlord-tenant law does not include any additional classes other than the seven already protected under the Federal law.
An example of housing discrimination would be if a Christian landlord refused to rent to a Jewish tenant based solely on the tenant's religious beliefs. The landlord must select tenants for the rental based on qualifying standards, such as income and employment.
The Right to the Security Deposit in Florida
Florida landlord-tenant law does not place a limit on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit. While the landlord is free to set whatever security deposit amount they choose, they must find a tenant who is willing to pay that amount. Between one and two months’ rent is generally accepted as a security deposit. You may be able to charge more for apartments with superior amenities, such as a doorman, or for fully furnished units.
A landlord in Florida has three options for storing a tenant’s security deposit during the life of the tenancy. They can place the deposit in a non-interest bearing account, place the deposit in an interest-bearing account, or purchase a surety bond in the amount of the deposit. Interest earned must be returned to the tenant upon successful completion of the lease.
Tenants in Florida have the right to be notified once the landlord receives their security deposit. This notification must occur within 30 days of the tenant paying the security deposit.
Landlords in Florida have 15 days after tenant move out to return a tenant’s security deposit if no deductions have been taken from the deposit. If deductions are going to be taken from the deposit, the landlord must return the deposit within 30 days of the tenant moving out of the rental property.
Landlord Entry in Florida
Florida’s law requires a landlord to give notice in most situations before the landlord can enter the apartment. To make repairs, the landlord must give at least 12 hours notice and for all other situations, the law simply says the landlord’s notice must be “reasonable.”
There are certain situations when the landlord does not have to give advance notice. These include emergencies or when the tenant has abandoned the unit.
The law also states the legal reasons a landlord can enter a tenant’s apartment, such as to inspect the unit or to show the unit to prospective tenants. If the landlord violates the terms of Florida’s law, then the tenant may seek legal action. If the tenant refuses to allow a landlord lawful entry into their unit, then the landlord can also seek legal action. Either party may be entitled to damages.
Landlord Retaliation in Florida
Florida’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Act contains a section regarding revenge between landlords and tenants. This clause is meant to minimize conflict between the two parties. The clause includes the acts of a tenant that could cause a landlord to retaliate, as well as the acts of the landlord that could be considered acts of retaliation.
Examples of legal tenant acts that could trigger landlord revenge include:
- The tenant complaining to a government agency about a health or safety violation at the property.
- The tenant is a service-member and terminating a lease early because of deployment.
Examples of landlord retaliation in Florida include:
- The landlord increasing a tenant’s rent.
- The landlord filing a retaliatory eviction in an attempt to remove the tenant from the property.
Landlords will have to prove that their actions were not acts of retaliation and were simply legally allowed duties of a landlord. Tenants will have to prove that the landlord specifically discriminated against them as a result of the tenant’s action.
The Right to Rent Disclosure in Florida
Sec. §§ 68.065, 83.46(1), 83-56(3-4) and 83.57
Renting an apartment can be stressful, especially for a first-time tenant. Florida tries to make this process easier by requiring landlords to disclose certain things to their tenants about the rent. This disclosure is for the benefit of both the landlord and the tenant so each party knows what is expected of them.
Landlords in Florida should include the basics terms of the lease in the lease agreement. This includes how much rent is due, when it is due, the forms of payment that the landlord accepts, and where the rent should be paid.
If a landlord in Florida wishes to terminate a tenant’s lease agreement early for nonpayment, they must first send the tenant written notice to Pay Rent or Quit. If the tenant does not pay their rent or move out of the unit, the landlord can decide to terminate the rental agreement.
Florida’s Landlord Tenant Law
To view the original text regarding Florida’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, please see Florida Statutes Annotated §§ 83.40 to 83.682 online.
The information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney.