Florida Residential Lease
Florida Residential Lease
Make Unlimited Leases for 1 Year
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Florida landlord? Create a residential lease for your state
If you’re a Florida landlord, you need a lease or rental agreement that covers Florida-specific landlord-tenant laws. Nolo’s Florida lease has been written to comply with state law.
In your legally binding lease or rental agreement, you’ll set out, in plain English, all the important terms of the tenancy, including who may occupy the unit, the rent, when rent is due and how it must be paid. It states the amount of the security deposit and explains how the law allows you to use it for damage, necessary cleaning, or unpaid rent. To set clear expectations, the lease explains your legal right to enter the unit, and the responsibilities of both tenant and landlord for keeping it safe and maintained.
You can also include other terms: for example, restrictions on guests, allowed uses of the property, and your policies on late rent and bounced checks. Finally, you can make legally required disclosures about environmental hazards or other issues.
To prepare your lease or rental agreement, just follow the step-by-step instructions, which clearly explain each clause and show you how to fill in required information.
Are you making a lease or a month-to-month rental agreement?
This rental form allows you to create either a fixed-term lease or a rental agreement.
- A lease runs from one specific date to another, and typically lasts for a year. The lease expires on its own; neither landlord nor tenant need give notice. The terms of the lease cannot be modified midlease unless both parties agree.
- A month-to-month rental agreement self-renews every month, unless landlord or tenant gives the required amount of notice. Landlords may modify the terms of the agreement using the same notice period.
What does "joint and several liability" mean?
Your rental document advises multiple tenants that each tenant will be responsible for paying rent and abiding by all the terms of the agreement. (If you're renting to a single tenant now, it puts this tenant on notice that tenants who join the lease later will also be subject to this rule.) The rule means that you can legally seek the entire rent from any one of the tenants should the others skip out or be unable to pay. It also gives you the right to evict all of the tenants even if just one has broken the terms of the lease.
How can I legally limit guest stays?
Clause 3 in your document cautions the tenant against moving anyone else in as a permanent resident without your prior consent. A tenant who does so gives you grounds for termination.
Clause 3 also limits guest stays. A guest who overstays will give you the right to demand that the guest leave, or (if you choose) request that the guest apply to become a tenant with an appropriate increase in rent. If the guest remains but does not become a tenant whom you've approved, you may evict the original tenant for violating this clause.
Florida law does not specify how long a guest may stay; the provision in this lease is reasonable and likely to be upheld if challenged in court.
What is an "early termination agreement?" When should I use it?
If you use a fixed-term lease, you know that your tenants are legally responsible for paying rent through the end of the lease term. But sometimes tenants' circumstances change, and they leave early. Until a few years ago, the landlord's options were clear: When tenants broke their lease and left early, landlords could stand by and charge them rent as it became due, until the end of the lease term; or charge rent until the premises were rerented (but not past the ending date of the lease).
Because of the practical difficulty of charging rent as it becomes due to tenants who may be long gone, most landlords would begin rerenting efforts, and charge the tenants for only the vacant months. In 2008, a new law offered a third alternative (Fla. Stat. Ann. Section 83.595). At the time the lease is signed, landlords can offer tenants the opportunity to lock-in a lease-breaking (or early termination) fee, as long as the fee is not more than twice the monthly rent, and as long as the landlord requires no more than 60 days' notice in the case of an early termination. This amount, known as "liquidated," or preset, damages, will benefit a landlord who expects the market to remain hot during the lease term -- this landlord might end up collecting double rent if the unit is rerented earlier than two months after the tenants leave. On the other hand, if the market is soft and rerenting efforts are not likely to produce new tenants within two months of the original tenants' leave-taking, landlords stand to lose, because they cannot demand lost rent for more than the specified two months. The Florida law includes two important wrinkles:
- Present the option before the lease is signed. If you decide that you would like to use a liquidated damages/early termination approach in case the tenants leave early, you must present that option to the tenants before the lease is signed. You cannot use this option later.
- No repercussions for a tenant who declines. Tenants may decide against accepting the option if the market is hot, for the very reasons that you would like to use it. Tenants who choose not to take you up on your offer of liquidated damages/early termination may not be denied the rental on this basis.
In practice, very few owners of single-family rentals use this addendum. They prefer to get the property rented as soon as possible, and deal with the tenants for any rent due during the vacant period. Owners of multifamily properties find the liquidated damages option attractive because it simplifies the consequences when tenants break their leases. In addition, the addendum is sufficient evidence of a debt to support sending the debt directly to a collections bureau for collection. If you decide to offer an early termination/liquidated damages option, you'll need to complete a separate agreement and attach it to the lease. Use Nolo's form, Florida Early Termination/Liquidated Damages Lease Addendum, which you can access for free.
What are Florida's security deposit rules?
Florida landlords do not have to pay interest on deposits, but they may if they wish. If you choose to pay interest, your duty to disclose where the deposit will be kept, its rate, and payment timing depends on how many rental units you have:
- If you have four or fewer units, you need not disclose these details, but you may if you wish.
- If you have five or more units, you must make specific disclosures.
For those landlords who choose to pay interest and have five or more units, here are the issues you must cover in your disclosure:
Regardless of whether you pay interest, you may not commingle tenants' funds with your own. This means that you must keep them in an account separate from your personal accounts.
How do I supply legally-required lead-hazard documentation?
With some exceptions (see below), all landlords must complete the federally required Lead Paint and Lead-Paint Hazards Disclosure form and give it to prospective tenants. Your lease includes a clause in which landlords who are not exempt from this requirement state that they have complied with the rule (exemptions are explained in the Help sections of the clause). You can download the Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards from the EPA website. Fill it out by hand. Be sure to keep a copy for your records.If you are not exempt, you will also need to give your tenant a copy of the EPA pamphlet Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home, available at the EPA website.
Properties that were built before 1978 are exempt from the lead-hazard disclosure rules if they are:
- certified as lead-free by a state-accredited inspector
- lofts, efficiencies, studios, and other "zero-bedroom" units
- vacation rentals of 100 days or less
- a single room rented in a residential home
- designed for persons with disabilities (unless any child younger than six years old resides there or is expected to), or
- retirement communities where one tenant is at least 62 years old (unless any child younger than six years old resides there or is expected to).
Where can I find any relevant local laws?
In some cities or counties, local ordinances or laws may require certain language or information to be in the rental agreement. We cannot list local requirements for every locality in Florida, so to be extra careful, take a moment to find out whether local laws affect your rental agreement.
Fortunately, many cities and counties have placed their local laws online. To find out whether your local government has done so, go to www.statelocalgov.net, choose Florida, and look for your county and/or city. Or simply call your local city or county attorney and ask whether residential rentals are covered by local ordinances and, if so, where you can obtain a copy. If local law varies from state law -- by imposing an interest requirement for security deposits, for example -- be sure to follow the local rule. You may need to amend this rental agreement accordingly.