Breaking a Lease in Tampa, Florida - Know the Laws

Although a lease agreement is legally binding for a certain period, it isn’t uncommon for a tenant to break it. In Florida, there are legally acceptable and unacceptable reasons for breaking a lease under Florida's rental laws.

Acceptable Reasons for Breaking a Lease in Florida

In Florida, a tenant can break a lease for various reasons. The reasons are as follows.

1. An Early-Termination Clause

Some landlords include an early termination clause as part of their lease agreement. The purpose of the clause is to allow a tenant to break their lease early if they meet certain requirements.

And often, the requirements involve payment of a termination fee and providing an advance notice. Once the tenant has met those conditions, they can move out without further penalties or obligations to the lease.

2. Active Military Duty

Tenants who are deployed or receive permanent change of station orders are protected by law against any penalties for breaking the lease. Specifically, they’re protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

The protection starts from the moment the tenant starts active duty to between 30 and 90 days after being discharged.

Also, the protection only applies to “uniformed members”. These include members of the armed forces, activated National Guard, and the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service.

active military duty

Before moving out, the relief act obligates a tenant to provide two important things to a landlord. One, proof that their active-duty assignment will last for more than 90 days. And two, a written notice indicating their intention to move out, along with a copy of the deployment orders.

3. Uninhabitable Unit

Most states have laws that set the minimum standards rental properties must meet. Florida isn’t any different. The following are some of your responsibilities in regard to habitability.

• Providing working sanitation facilities
• Providing functioning lighting, electrical, and plumbing facilities
• Ensuring the HVAC system is working as it should
• Providing both cold and hot running water
• Providing a completely waterproofed roof and walls
• Ensuring doors and windows are in a good state of repair

If you don’t provide such conditions, your rental property would be considered uninhabitable. Consequently, a court would probably rule that you have “constructively evicted” your tenant.

4. Landlord Harassment

Landlord harassment is illegal. It arises when a landlord deliberately creates unpleasant conditions meant to force a tenant to vacate their unit.
There are many forms of landlord harassment as follows.

• Refusing to acknowledge a rent payment from your tenant
• Making sexual advancements to your tenant
• Removing their belongings from the unit
• Shutting down previously available amenities
• Locking them out from the unit

5. Violation of Privacy

Your Florida tenant has a right to live in privacy. You can’t just enter without notifying them first of your intended entry.

privacy violations florida

According to Florida entry laws, landlords must provide their tenants with a notice of at least 12 hours prior to entry. Common reasons for landlord entry in Florida include:

• To carry out an inspection of the premises
• To show the unit to prospective tenants or buyers
• In the case of an emergency
• In the event a tenant unreasonably withholds consent
• If the tenant abandons their rented premises

The only exception to the 12 hours’ advance notice is if there is an emergency, or a tenant unreasonably withholds consent for entry.

6. Landlord Violation of the Lease Agreement

A landlord has an obligation to abide by the terms of the lease agreement. If you don’t, that may give your tenant enough justification to break their lease. An example of a lease violation by a landlord is illegally raising the rent amount in a fixed-term lease.

Unacceptable Reasons for Breaking a Lease in Florida

The following reasons generally don’t offer a tenant enough justification to break their lease early. And as a result, provide no legal shield against any penalties arising from not abiding by the lease agreement.

breaking a lease florida

• Moving out to the new home they recently bought
• Moving out to get nearer to friends and family
• Breaking the lease to move in with a partner
• The need to upgrade or downgrade
• Relocating for a new school or job

Landlord’s Duty to Find a New Tenant in Florida

In some states, landlords have a duty to “mitigate damages” by making reasonable efforts to re-rent their units after a tenant breaks their lease. This is, however, not the case in the state of Florida. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.595).

In Florida, you have no obligation to minimize losses liable to a tenant by looking for a replacement tenant. In other words, you can simply choose not to re-rent the unit, stand by, and wait for the lease to end. Then, hold the tenant liable for all rent due under the lease, which can be a substantial amount.

Bottom Line

If breaking a lease or any other aspect of the rental laws in Florida confuse you, get in touch with us and let us help you!

Best Rental Services is a customer-centric and results-driven property management company that serves Tampa and the surrounding areas. We can help you fill your vacancies quickly, collect rent consistently, handle security deposits, ensure compliance with Fair Housing Laws, and care for your property, among other things.

If you want to learn more about our services, kindly get in touch by leaving us a message on this contact form.

Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for expert legal advice from a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company. Also, laws may change and this information may not be up-to-date at the time you read it. If you have a question regarding this content, please get in touch with Best Rental Services.