Florida renters who are stuck in a bad apartment may wonder how to get out of their lease. Fortunately, Florida law provides some options for renters who are unhappy with their living arrangements. Knowing the law puts you on firm footing to get out of your lease and gives you leverage against landlords not holding up their end of the rental agreement.
There are several consequences to simply moving out of a building you are no longer happy with. First, you may forfeit your deposit. You might also be liable for the rent you would have owed had you decided to stay in the building. In addition to this, many leases in Florida contain a legal clause known as an "early termination fee." This clause allows your landlord to charge you additional fees on top of rent for breaking the lease early.
If you vacate the apartment early, your landlord cannot decide to sit on the empty unit and just keep collecting rent from you. Nor can the landlord collect double rent on the unit -- one rent check from you and one from the new tenant. Florida law states that landlords have a legal obligation to make a good faith effort to find a new person to occupy your unit. You will still be liable for fees associated with getting a new tenant, such as what the landlord spends on advertising the unit or getting the locks changed.
Novation and Subletting
There are two easy and related options for you if you need to get out of your lease but don't want to incur hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees. The first is novation, where you find a new tenant acceptable to the landlord and the landlord issues him a lease of his own. The second is subletting, where you find a new tenant who takes over your lease. In the latter case, you will be responsible if the new tenant fails to pay rent. You will also be liable for any damage done to the unit by the subletter.
Another option for terminating your lease is to prove that your landlord has violated it. Florida law stipulates that landlords have a number of responsibilities. Above all, the landlord must keep the building and unit in compliance with all relevant health, building and safety codes. The landlord has further obligations to keep all common areas safe and clean and to keep your building and unit free of pests. If your landlord is delinquent in this respect, you may be able to legally break your lease.