Renters in Florida are protected from abuses by landlords by a number of different statutes. These laws limit a landlord's ability to remove tenants and retain security deposits, among other things.
Although Florida does not impose a cap on the size of security deposits landlords can request, it does impose some relatively stringent requirements to protect renters. First, landlords are not allowed to hold security deposit funds in their normal bank accounts. This protects renters if the landlord goes bankrupt. Second, property owners are required to return security deposits within 15 days of the end of the lease. However, they can take extra 15 days if they are making any deductions to pay for damages, unpaid rent or unpaid utility bills.
Unpaid rent, deliberate destruction of property and "unreasonable disturbances" are all grounds for eviction under Florida law. Less serious lease violations like owning a pet in violation of the lease or having long-term guests without permission can also result in eviction if repeated in the same 12-month period.
Before filing for an eviction, however, the landlord must send the tenant an unconditional quit notice giving her seven days to vacate the property. During that time the tenant can challenge the notice.
Subletting is allowed in Florida if the lease agreement contains no specific provisions prohibiting it. However, landlords are free to include anti-subletting clauses in their paperwork. If a tenant does sublet a property he has agreed to rent from the landlord, he is still financially liable for the agreement. If the subletter doesn't pay rent or damages the property, the original renter may be held liable.
Florida law allows tenants to withhold and deduct rent for repairs if the landlord fails to repair serious problems in a timely manner. Serious problems include issues like leaky roofs and broken heaters. However, tenants are required to give their landlords notice of the problem before withholding rent or paying for repairs themselves.
Tenants without a formal lease agreement can still enjoy certain protections under state law. According to the Florida Public Interest Research Group, an oral agreement to lease a property is just as binding as a written agreement. As a result, all the normal protections apply to a tenant without a written lease agreement. The problem is that oral agreements are often difficult to enforce if the sides disagree on what exactly was agreed upon.