Tenants sign lease agreements with the intention of staying for its full duration. However, there is the chance of something happening that stops them from doing so. Many potential situations can arise that create the need to break a lease early.
These circumstances aren’t stress-free for the renter nor the landlord.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll go over all the major points related to breaking a lease in Florida. You’ll learn about the practical steps surrounding it as well.
How do lease agreements work?
First, we’ll go over the basics. Before any keys or money are handed over, you should draft an agreement with the occupant. This agreement shows what the rights and responsibilities of each party are.
While lease and rental agreements could be oral, it’s always better to have a written one. This way, both sides have the same understanding of the rules. A written contract provides a useful reference in the future.
A properly drafted lease agreement lowers the risk of disputes. Any doubt can be quickly dissipated by checking the relevant terms of the contract. There are going to be fewer misunderstandings when all the crucial details are spelled out in the document.
The lease agreements usually last for a year. The landlord can’t change any terms in the agreement until the lease period ends. In return, the tenant agrees to rent the unit for a fixed period of time.
When the lease is signed, the landlord can’t evict the tenant without a specific reason. A justified cause is based on:
- The tenant unable to pay the rent
- The tenant violates an important term
Breaking the lease occurs when the tenant wants to leave before the lease ends. As a landlord, it’s vital to know that there are justified reasons for breaking a lease. Your tenant could leave the rental without paying rent until the lease expires.
These justified reasons are regulated by the Florida landlord-tenant laws. We’ll take a closer look at these scenarios below.
#1: Habitability violations
Tenants can break a lease if the rental premises violate Florida Health or Safety Codes. The same applies when the property is unsafe for living. For example, the rental must have locks and access to hot water.
In practice, breaking a lease because of habitability violations forms a “constructive eviction.” This signifies that the landlord evicted the occupant because he or she couldn’t provide adequate housing standards.
Nonetheless, the problems need to be serious in nature in order for the court to consider a constructive eviction. For example, a complete lack of heating is an issue severe enough to justify this approach.
In case of serious rental unit violations, the renter doesn’t have to pay termination fees.
#2: Military service
Is your tenant entering active military service as uniformed services?
These include the following:
- Commissioned Corps of Public Health Service
- Activated National Guard
- Armed Forces
- Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration
A tenant can break the lease under the federal law. You should receive a handwritten lease termination notice from the occupant. They stop being bound by the lease thirty days after the next rent is due.
#3: Harassment and privacy invasion
Florida landlords need to give a 12 hours’ notice before entering a rental. Violating this law is a critical invasion of the tenant’s privacy. In such scenarios, the tenant has the right to break a lease. There is no further obligation to pay rent according to the contract.
Any proven harassment gives a tenant the same rights. Here are some examples of unacceptable conduct:
- Removing windows from the property
- Restricting access to utilities
- Changing locks without the tenant’s knowledge
What can a landlord do after an unfounded breaking of the lease?
Landlords in Florida have three main options when a tenant breaks the lease without legal justification.
- You can use the tenant’s assets to cover any financial damage.
- You can do nothing and wait for the occupant to pay the rent until the lease expires.
- You can always re-rent the unit.
The tenant may be proactive in helping you find another renter. This is in their best interest. When you sign a new lease agreement, the old document expires, and the leaseholder is free to move on.
How termination offers work
An occupant has the option to consider the termination offers outlined in the lease agreement. There are many ways how termination offers could work. For example, the tenants could:
- Forfeit their security deposit in the full amount
- Pay two to three months’ worth of rent
Your tenant could negotiate the termination offer terms. It’s up to you whether you choose to accept any proposals differing from the original terms. Sometimes the renters have a major individual motive that isn’t legally justified. In this case, you could accept a reasonable compromise.
The bottom line: breaking a lease in Florida
Written lease agreements form an essential part of every landlord-tenant relationship. The lease comes with a fixed duration. After this period ends, both parties are free to move forward.
Life is unexpected and your tenant could break the lease. In this case, there are justified reasons based on the Florida Tenant-Landlords laws. These include the following:
- Military service
- Habitability violations
- Privacy invasion
Did your tenant break a lease without a justified reason?
You can get compensation for financial damage, re-rent the unit, or receive payments until the lease expires.
If you’d benefit from the services a professional property management company offers, contact Warner Quinlan today!