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Breaking a Lease in Florida – Landlord Rights

Leasing property can sometimes come with unexpected difficulties. Situations may arise where a landlord needs to terminate a leasing agreement before the end of the leasing period. Chapter 83, Florida Statutes, governs residential rental agreements in Florida and provides statutory requirements that a landlord must follow to legally terminate a lease early. As a landlord, it is essential to understand these laws or to contact a knowledgeable attorney to ensure compliance with Florida’s laws that serve to protect both landlords and tenants.

Florida provides tenants with certain obligations they must comply with. Some of these obligations include maintaining clean and sanitary premises and removing garbage from the dwelling unit. Tenants are also prohibited from destroying or damaging the premises, and from acting in a manner that breaches the peace or unreasonably disturbs their neighbors.

If a tenant fails to comply with material provisions of their statutory obligations or a material provision of the lease, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement before the end of the leasing period. The first step to terminate the lease is to send the tenant a written notice. The nature and content of such notices varies depending on the circumstances of the tenant’s violation. If the landlord has cause to end a lease early, he may be required to give a seven-day notice to cure, seven-day notice that the lease is ending, or a three-day notice to pay.

If the noncompliance is of a nature that the tenant should not be given an opportunity to cure, such as intentionally destroying the premises, or if the landlord provided the tenant with a written warning of a similar violation in the last twelve months, the landlord may serve the tenant with written notice of termination. This notice must include the landlord’s intent to terminate the written agreement, specify the noncompliance, and provide the tenant seven days from the date of the notice to vacate the premises.

If the violation is of a nature that the tenant should be given an opportunity to cure, such as permitting unauthorized pets, the landlord must deliver a written notice to the tenant specifying the noncompliance and allow the tenant seven days from the date of the notice to cure such violation.

If the tenant has failed to pay the rent as agreed upon, the tenant must be given a three-day notice. If the tenant continues to default on payment for three days after the delivery of the notice (excluding weekends and legal holidays) the landlord may terminate the lease.

It is important to note that terminating a rental agreement and evicting a tenant are different processes. Some tenants may refuse to leave the premises and an eviction might become necessary. However, it is important to note that Florida law prohibits “self-help” evictions, such as changing the locks or turning off the power. If a tenant refuses to vacate the premises after the lease has been terminated, the landlord must file with the court to begin an eviction proceeding.

The notice required by law is fact specific and will vary depending on the circumstances. It is crucial for landlords to consider their reasons to terminate the lease, provide the required notice, and be prepared for an eviction process if necessary. If you are currently involved in a landlord/tenant dispute, do not hesitate to contact our firm in order to learn more about your rights and options.