First off, let’s be clear that tenants do have rights in Florida when it comes to residential tenancies. While it’s true that Florida is considered to be a “landlord friendly” state, that does not mean that landlords have free reign to do whatever they want with their properties and tenants. The laws impose certain obligations on the owners of residential properties that must be observed if they’re going to avoid running afoul of the law, not to mention the possibility of facing penalties ranging from fines to prison time.
While this article cannot possibly provide a comprehensive digest of the thousands of pages of applicable law impacting residential tenancies, it does serve as a starting point and general overview for your further research, with helpful links provided. As always, if you have specific legal questions, do consult your qualified attorney.
Federal Laws Governing Tenants’ Rights
There is a slew of federal laws and regulations dealing with the rights of residential tenants. These laws date back as far as the 1800s. They are overseen by a variety of federal bureaucracies, primarily the Department of Housing and Urban Development (H.U.D.) and the United States Department of Justice (D.O.J.).
The 2018 Florida Landlord And Tenant Act
Florida Statutes, Chapter 83, Part II, Sections 83.40-83.683 are commonly referred to as the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. This is the primary body of law about the rights and responsibilities of one to the other of landlords and residential tenants in the state. That said, rental property owners also need to be aware of any county or municipal laws/rules/regulations relative to residential tenancies in their particular localities — as a landlord, you must know the law!
Here is a synopsis of the topics covered in the various sections of the Florida law:
- 83.40 Short title.
- 83.41 Application.
- 83.42 Exclusions from application of part.
- 83.43 Definitions.
- 83.44 Obligation of good faith.
- 83.45 Unconscionable rental agreement or provision.
- 83.46 Rent; duration of tenancies.
- 83.47 Prohibited provisions in rental agreements.
- 83.48 Attorney fees.
- 83.49 Deposit money or advance rent; duty of landlord and tenant.
- 83.50 Disclosure of landlord’s address.
- 83.51 Landlord’s obligation to maintain premises.
- 83.52 Tenant’s responsibility to maintain dwelling unit.
- 83.53 Landlord’s access to the dwelling unit.
- 83.535 Flotation bedding system; restrictions on use.
- 83.54 Enforcement of rights and duties; civil action; criminal offenses.
- 83.55 Right of action for damages.
- 83.56 Termination of rental agreement.
- 83.561 Termination of rental agreement upon foreclosure.
- 83.57 Termination of tenancy without specific term.
- 83.575 Termination of tenancy with specific duration.
- 83.58 Remedies; tenant holding over.
- 83.59 Right of action for possession.
- 83.595 Choice of remedies upon breach or early termination by the tenant.
- 83.60 Defenses to action for rent or possession; procedure.
- 83.61 Disbursement of funds in registry of court; prompt final hearing.
- 83.62 Restoration of possession to landlord.
- 83.625 Power to award possession and enter money judgment.
- 83.63 Casualty damage.
- 83.64 Retaliatory conduct.
- 83.67 Prohibited practices.
- 83.681 Orders to enjoin violations of this part.
- 83.682 Termination of rental agreement by a service-member.
- 83.683 Rental application by a service-member.
Always use attorney-prepared and reviewed lease documentation! NEVER use a generic form that you paid twenty-bucks for and downloaded off of the internet! It will likely cost you a few hundred dollars to get your paperwork in order through an attorney, but you will be able to use the same paperwork over and over again, and the peace of mind you will gain with the knowledge that your lease documentation is legally compliant will be priceless. HINT: If it’s not spelled out in the lease, it does not exist!
NEVER retaliate against a tenant for a perceived slight! Always remain professional in demeanor, and always follow the letter of the law in all of your dealings with tenants.
It’s a lot to take in, but there is no getting around the necessity of familiarizing yourself with and actively abiding by the letter and spirit of the landlord and tenancy laws. If you decide that the burden of compliance is more than you care to handle personally, a professional property manager can take over and manage your rentals in full compliance with all applicable laws. We encourage you to download our free informational tool, “Your Guide to Finding the Best Sarasota Area Property Manager,” or you can contact us HERE. Happy landlording!
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