Renters' Legal Rights in Florida

Although Florida landlords create written lease agreements that they and their renters sign, not all protections the state's Landlord and Tenant Law provides renters is included in each lease agreement. Tenants who understand their legal rights can ensure that they lease quality rental units and that they can also work with their landlords to ensure that their rental units are kept in good operating condition.

  1. Lease Agreements

    • Lease agreements are written or oral. A renter must agree with the terms outlined in lease agreements before the lease is binding. The agreements are set up so that a renter is required to pay rent week-to-week or month-to-month. Landlords are not permitted to create day-to-day lease agreements that require a renter to pay rent at the start or end of each day. After a renter signs lease agreements, he is bound to the terms outlined in the agreements.

    Security Deposit

    • Florida permits landlords to create rental agreements stating that advance rental payments are nonrefundable. In other words, it is permissible for a landlord to accept $400 from a prospective tenant to pay the first month's rent before the tenant moves into the facility. Also, if a prospective tenant gives a landlord an advance rental payment then decides not to move into the apartment or house, the landlord does not have to return the renter the advance payment. Landlords are required by law, however, to return a tenant's security deposit if neither the tenant, nor any guests of the tenant, caused damages to the rental unit. A renter should receive his security deposit refund within 15 days after moving out.

    Safety

    • Rental units in Florida must meet local and state housing safety and health codes. Good working condition is required for plumbing and hot water. The rental unit should also have heat, utilities (electricity, gas), windows, a roof and exterior walls. Landlords are also responsible for ensuring the home is free of rodents, ants, wood-eating bugs and bed bugs. Additionally, landlords must keep common areas outside individual rental units clean and safe. Garbage receptacles must be provided outside rental units for the tenants.

    Accessing Rental Unit

    • Before a landlord enters an occupied rental unit, he is required to give the tenant advance notice. For example, he should give a tenant notification prior to entering the residence to make repairs on the property. The exception to this rule is if there is an emergency, such as a fire. In these instances, the landlord is allowed to enter the rental unit without giving the tenant prior notification.

    Late Payments

    • If rent is late, a tenant must receive at least three days' notice that the landlord will start eviction proceedings before the landlord does so. If the tenant pays his rent within the three days, the landlord must stay the eviction process.

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