Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws in Florida

Important laws every Florida landlord and tenant needs to know.

By , Attorney · UC Berkeley School of Law

Florida laws govern much of the landlord-tenant relationship, including security deposits, late rent, and evictions. Here's a breakdown of key laws that affect nearly all Florida landlords and tenants.

Florida Rental Application and Tenant Screening Laws

Florida law regulates very little of the tenant application and screening process.

Application Fees

There is no law in Florida that prohibits landlords from charging an application fee.

Landlords are free to charge tenants for the cost of obtaining a credit report or other screening report.

Rental Applications From Servicemembers

Florida law requires landlords to complete the processing of a rental application submitted by a prospective tenant who is a servicemember within seven days of submission. The landlord must notify the servicemember in writing of an approval or denial and, if the application is denied, the reason for the denial. (Fla. Stat. § 83.683 (2024).)

Criminal History Screening

Florida does not have a state law prohibiting landlords from considering applicants' criminal histories. However, landlords must still be careful. When landlords consider applicants' criminal history, they must do so in a consistent, nondiscriminatory manner. If a landlord's practice of considering criminal history has a discriminatory effect—for example, if the landlord asks only applicants of a certain color for criminal history information—the landlord is engaging in illegal discrimination and can be subject to penalties. Also, landlords can reject applicants only for past convictions that are "directly-related" to the application—in other words, convictions that have a negative bearing on a legitimate business concern of the landlord.

Fair Housing Laws

All landlords need to follow federal and state antidiscrimination laws when screening applicants for a rental. Federal fair housing laws prohibit landlords from discriminating on the basis of:

For more information about fair housing in Florida, visit the Florida Commission on Human Relations' website.

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Florida Security Deposit Laws

Florida doesn't set a cap on how much landlords can charge for a security deposit. However, the laws regarding how landlords must hold and return security deposits are somewhat involved.

How Landlords Must Hold Security Deposits in Florida

Florida landlords must either:

  • place the security deposit in a separate, non-interest-bearing account in a Florida banking institution
  • hold the money in a separate interest-bearing account in a Florida banking institution. Or
  • post a surety bond on behalf of the tenants with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where the rental is located in the lesser of either the total amount of the security deposit or $50,000.

If the landlord puts the money in an interest-bearing account, the tenant is entitled to at least 75% of the annualized average interest rate payable on the account or interest at the rate of 5%, whichever the landlord chooses.

Landlords who choose to post a surety bond should be sure to read carefully the statutory requirements for security deposit bonds.

If a landlord rents 5 or more units, within 30 days of receiving the security deposit, the landlord must give the tenant a written notice letting the tenant know where the deposit is being held.

(Fla. Stat. § 83.49 (2024).)

When and How Landlords Must Return Security Deposits in Florida

When the tenancy ends and the tenant is entitled to a return of the full security deposit, the landlord must return it to the tenant within 15 days.

If the landlord intends to keep some or all of the security deposit, they must give the tenant written notice by certified mail to the tenant's last-known mailing address of their intent to keep the deposit and the reason for doing so. Landlords who don't send this notice lose the right to keep the security deposit.

The tenant has 15 days from the receipt of the landlord's notice to object. If the tenant doesn't object, the landlord can deduct the amount of the claim and must send any remaining balance to the tenant within 30 days of the notice of intention to impose a claim on the security deposit.

Tenants who leave before the lease expires should give the landlord at least seven days' written notice of their intent to leave. The notice should include a forwarding address. Tenants who break their lease but don't give this notice lose the right to receive advance notice of the landlord's intent to keep all or part of the security deposit.

(Fla. Stat. § 83.49 (2024).)

Fees in Lieu of Security Deposits

When a lease or rental agreement requires a tenant to pay a security deposit, the tenant has the option to pay a fee in lieu of the deposit. The tenant can pay the fee monthly or on another schedule that's described in the lease or rental agreement.

If the tenant decides to pay a fee, the landlord must notify the tenant within 30 days of the end of the tenancy whether there are any amounts due for unpaid rent, fees, or other obligations under the rental agreement (such as damage to the rental unit).

This fee-in-lieu law is relatively new in Florida, and is subject to change. Tenants and landlords exploring this option for their lease should be sure to check the latest version of the statute to ensure that they're following all the required procedures.

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Required Landlord Disclosures in Florida

In many states, landlords must disclose specific information to tenants and potential tenants. Florida law requires the following disclosures:

  • Landlord identity: The landlord, or a person authorized to enter into a rental agreement on the landlord's behalf, must disclose in writing to the tenant (at or before the tenancy begins) the name and address of the landlord or a person authorized to receive notices and demands on the landlord's behalf. (Fla. Stat. § 83.50 (2024).)
  • Radon: Landlords must include in all leases: "RADON GAS: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that, when it has accumulated in a building in sufficient quantities, may present health risks to persons who are exposed to it over time. Levels of radon that exceed federal and state guidelines have been found in buildings in Florida. Additional information regarding radon and radon testing may be obtained from your county health department." (Fla. Stat. § 404.056 (2024).)
  • Fee in lieu of security deposit: When a tenant chooses to pay a fee in lieu of a security deposit, there must be a written agreement to collect the fee that's signed by the landlord and the tenant. The agreement must specify (1) the amount of the fee; (2) how and when the fee will be collected; (3) the process and timeframe during which the tenant must pay a security deposit if the tenant defaults on paying the fee (and that the default won't affect the tenant's credit rating if the tenant timely pays the security deposit); (4) that the agreement can be terminated at any time as long as the tenant pays the security deposit specified in the rental agreement; and (5) that if the tenant pays the amount of the security deposit specified in the rental agreement, the tenant's default on paying the fee or termination of the agreement won't adversely affect the tenant's credit report. The agreement must also include specific language that can be found in the statute. (Fla. Stat. § 83.491 (2024).)

In addition to these state-required disclosures, landlords in all states must follow federal lead-based paint disclosure rules.

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Small Claims Lawsuits in Florida

Small claims courts are courts that allow people to resolve disputes such as security deposit battles at a low cost and with simpler procedures than you'd encounter in a more general court. Small claims cases in Florida are heard in the county court.

Parties in Florida small claims courts can request an award of up to $8,000. Landlords can also bring eviction lawsuits in Florida small claims courts.

Parties are allowed to hire attorneys to represent them in Florida small claims courts, but, to save money and because the procedures are designed for people without attorneys, many people choose to represent themselves.

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Florida Late Fees and Other Rent Rules

Rent is due on whatever day the landlord and tenant agree to.

Grace Period

Florida does not have a statutory grace period for paying rent. However, the landlord and tenant can agree to a grace period in the lease or rental agreement.

Late Fees

Florida doesn't limit the amount that a landlord can charge for a late fee. Most judges won't enforce unreasonable late fees, though. In general, a late fee will be considered reasonable as long as it doesn't exceed 4%-5% of the rent and has an upper limit.

Rent Increases

Florida landlords can't raise the rent during the term of a lease unless the lease specifically allows them to do so.

For month-to-month tenancies, Florida law doesn't specify how much notice a landlord must give to raise the rent. A reasonable amount of notice would likely be the same length of time that the agreement is for: 30 days.

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Landlords in Florida Must Provide Habitable Rentals

Landlords in Florida have a duty to keep the rental fit for human habitation. This duty includes:

  • complying with all applicable building codes
  • maintaining the roofs, windows, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, foundations, and all other structural components in good repair
  • keeping the plumbing in reasonable working condition, and
  • ensuring at the beginning of the tenancy that the screens are installed in a reasonable condition.

Landlords who oversee rentals other than single-family homes and duplexes have additional responsibilities, such as exterminating pests, maintaining locks and keys, cleaning common areas, and providing trash receptacles. They must also install working smoke detectors.

(Fla. Stat. § 83.51 (2024).)

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Tenant Rights to Withhold Rent in Florida

Florida allows tenants to withhold rent in very limited situations. If seven days pass after the delivery of a written notice to the landlord informing the landlord about a habitability problem, the tenant can use this as a defense in an eviction action for not paying rent. In the eviction lawsuit, the tenant will have to deposit the amount of unpaid rent into a registry of the court. (Fla. Stat. § 83.60 (2024).)

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Florida Termination and Eviction Rules

Florida landlords must follow very specific rules and procedures in order to terminate a tenancy and then, if necessary, file an eviction lawsuit. Here's a summary of the rules and procedures. For more details, see The Eviction Process in Florida.

Notice of Termination for Cause

A termination "for cause" means that the landlord has a reason to end the tenancy early (before the term of the lease or rental agreement is over). In Florida, a landlord can terminate a tenancy early and evict a tenant for a number of different reasons, including not paying rent, violating the lease or rental agreement, or committing an illegal act. To terminate the tenancy, the landlord must first give the tenant written notice. The type of notice will be determined by the reason for the termination.

  • Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit: When a tenant is three days late with rent (excluding Saturday, Sunday, and legal holidays), the landlord can give the tenant a three-day notice to pay rent or move out of the rental ("quit"). The notice must state that the tenant has three days (excluding Saturday, Sunday, and legal holidays) to either pay rent or move out. If the tenant doesn't move out by the deadline, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit. (Fla. Stat. § 83.56(3) (2024).)
  • Seven-Day Notice to Cure: When a tenant violates the lease or rental agreement and the violation can be corrected, the landlord can give the tenant a seven-day notice to cure. The notice must give the tenant seven days to fix the violation. If the tenant doesn't meet the deadline, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit. (Fla. Stat. § 83.56(2)(b) (2024).)
  • Seven-Day Unconditional Quit Notice: An unconditional quit notice tells the tenant that their tenancy is over due to a lease violation, and that they have seven days to move out. There's no opportunity for the tenant to fix the lease violation. In Florida, landlords can use this type of notice only when the tenant intentionally destroys the rental property or other tenants' property, creates unreasonable disturbances, or repeats the same lease violation within a 12-month period. This notice informs the tenant that the tenant must move out of the rental within seven days or the landlord will proceed with an eviction lawsuit. (Fla. Stat. § 83.56(2)(a) (2024).)

Notice of Termination Without Cause

The process for ending a tenancy without cause depends on the type of tenancy. Here's what needs to happen to end a month-to-month tenancy or a tenancy with a long-term lease.

  • Month-to-month rental agreement. A Florida landlord can terminate without cause a month-to-month tenancy by giving the tenant a written notice at least 30 days before the end of the monthly period. The notice must inform the tenant that the tenancy will end in 30 days and that the tenant must move out of the rental unit by that time. (Fla. Stat. § 83.57 (2024).)
  • Fixed-term lease. Landlords can't terminate fixed-term tenancies without cause—they must wait until the lease term ends. Then, it's simply a matter of not renewing the tenant's lease. Note, though, that the lease can require the landlord or tenant to give notice that they don't plan to renew the lease.) (Fla. Stat. § 83.575 (2024).)

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What Landlords Must Do With Tenants' Abandoned Property

After an eviction (or even after a tenant simply moves out), the landlord might find that the tenant has left behind personal property at the rental unit. If the property clearly is garbage, the landlord can throw it away.

In Florida, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing about the abandoned property. The notice must:

  • describe the property in enough detail that the owner could identify it
  • advise the tenant that the landlord might charge the tenant for the costs of storage
  • state where the property can be claimed, and
  • provide a deadline (at least 10 days if the notice is personally delivered, or at least 15 days if the notice is mailed) by which the property must be claimed.

A sample abandoned property notice can be found at Florida Statute section 715.105 (2024). If the tenant doesn't claim the property by the deadline, the landlord can either sell the property or dispose of it. (Fla. Stat. §§ 715.10 through 715.111 (2024).)

Landlords can avoid having to give notice if they clearly place the following in the lease or a separate written agreement:


(Fla. Stat. § 83.67 (2024).)

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Tenant Defenses to Eviction

Even though a landlord might have a valid reason to evict a tenant, the tenant can still choose to fight the eviction. For example, the tenant could claim that the eviction is the result of the landlord illegally discriminating, or is in retaliation for the tenant exercising a legal right.

A tenant's decision to fight the eviction could increase the costs of the eviction, and it could result in the tenant having more time to remain in the rental. For these reasons, it's often in the best interests of both the tenant and the landlord to try to negotiate a compromise rather than head to court. Mediation is a common way for landlords and tenants to work out issues—check to see if your community has a low-cost or free housing mediation program.

Illegal Evictions

Landlords can't take self-help measures to evict a tenant. For example, Florida landlords can't cause (directly or indirectly) the termination or interruption of any utilities, including water, heat, light, electricity, gas, elevator, garbage collection, or refrigeration, regardless of whether the landlord pays for the service. Landlords also can't change the locks or otherwise exclude the tenant from the rental.

A landlord who illegally evicts a tenant in these ways is liable to the tenant for their actual and consequential damages or 3 months' rent, whichever is greater. The landlord will also be responsible for the tenant's court costs and attorney fees. (Fla. Stat. § 83.67 (2024).)

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Florida Rules About Landlords' Access to Property

Tenants are obligated to allow their landlord reasonable access to the rental so the landlord can inspect, make necessary repairs, and show the unit to possible buyers or renters. Florida landlords can also enter when the tenant is absent from the rental for a period of time equal to half of the time for periodic rental payments. For example, if the tenant pays monthly and is gone for 15 or more days, the landlord can enter. But if the tenant notifies the landlord of an extended absence, the landlord can't enter due to the length of the absence.

Except in cases of emergency or when the tenant has given permission, the landlord must give the tenant 24 hours' notice, and can enter only between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

(Fla. Stat. § 83.53 (2024).)

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Where to Find Florida Landlord-Tenant Laws

If you want to read the text of a law itself, visit the state legislature's website, Online Sunshine.

Local Ordinances Affecting Florida Landlords and Tenants

Cities and counties often pass local ordinances, such as health and safety standards, noise and nuisance regulations, and anti-discrimination rules that affect landlords and tenants. However, Florida is an exception: The state government has preempted—taken away—the right of local government to regulate issues relating to the landlord-tenant relationship. (Fla. Stat. § 83.425 (2024).)

This means that even though your local government might still have landlord-tenant laws on its books, these laws have been superseded by any state law passed on the issue they address.

Federal Landlord-Tenant Laws and Regulations

Congress and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have enacted laws and regulations that apply to the landlord-tenant relationship in Florida. These laws and regulations address topics such as discrimination and landlord responsibilities to disclose environmental health hazards, such as lead-based paint.

The U.S. Code is the starting place for most federal statutory research. It consists of 53 separate numbered titles, each covering a specific subject matter. Most federal regulations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations ("CFR"). To access the U.S. Code and Code of Federal Regulations online, see the federal section of the Library of Congress's legal research site.

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Nolo Resources on Legal Research and Landlord-Tenant Law

For more information on legal research, check out Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law, by Stephen Elias (Nolo). This nontechnical book gives easy-to-use, step-by-step instructions on how to find legal information.

You'll also find a wealth of information in Nolo's landlord-tenant books.

For landlords:

For tenants:

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