Leases and rental agreements cover important business details, such as how much rent is due each month. Florida law covers many aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship that you’ll want to include in your lease or rental agreement, such as specific rules on the use and return of security deposits. Here are the top dozen items to cover in your Florida lease or rental agreement.
Learn more about Laws for Landlords and Tenants.
Terms to Include
1. Term of the Tenancy
Every Florida rental document should state whether it is a rental agreement or a fixed-term lease. Here’s the difference:
- Rental agreements usually run from month-to-month and self-renew unless you or the tenant terminate it. Under Florida law, you may not specify less than 15 days’ notice to end a tenancy; most landlords find that 30 days’ notice for both landlord and tenant is optimal.
- Leases, on the other hand, set a specific beginning and expiration date. A lease obligates both landlord and tenant to a specific term, typically a year, although Florida law provides for early lease termination under specific circumstances—for example, if the tenant is the victim of sexual assault or abuse on the premises.
2. Names of All Tenants
Every adult who lives in the rental unit, including both members of a married couple, should sign the lease or rental agreement and be named as tenants. This makes each tenant legally responsible for all terms, including the full amount of the rent. Having every adult’s name on the agreement means that you can legally seek the entire rent from any one of the tenants should the others be unable to pay.
3. Limits on Occupancy
Your Florida agreement should clearly specify that the rental unit is the residence of only the tenants who have signed the lease and their minor children. This guarantees your rights to determine who lives in your property and to limit the number of occupants. This clause is important because it gives you grounds to evict a tenant who moves in a friend or relative, or sublets the unit, without your permission.
Your Florida lease or rental agreement should provide specific details on the rent, including:
- the amount of rent
- when it is due (typically, the first of the month), and whether there’s any grace period
- how rent is to be paid, such as by mail to your office
- acceptable payment methods (such as personal check only)
- whether late fees will be due if rent is not paid on time, and the amount of the fee, and
- any bounced-check fee you’ll charge if the tenant gives you a check that the bank will not honor. Under Florida law, for checks in excess of $300, you may charge a bounced-check fee of $40 or 5% of the face amount of the check, whichever is greater; and you must give the tenant a written demand, asking for payment within 30 days.
5. Security Deposit
To avoid confusion and legal hassles with tenants, your Florida lease or rental agreement should be clear on all the details involving security deposits. Here are the major ones:
The dollar amount and use of the security deposit. Florida does not set a limit, but most landlords find it impractical to charge more than one or two months’ rent.
The use of the deposit, such as to pay for tenant-caused damage. It’s also a good idea to spell out how the tenant may not use the deposit (such as applying it to last month's rent).
When and how you will return the deposit. Under Florida law, you must return the deposit within 15 days after the tenant leaves if you are returning the deposit in full. If you plan to deduct money from the deposit, you must send a written notice of intended deductions within 30 days of the tenant’s departure, and you must account for and refund the balance, if any, within 30 days after that.
Security deposit accounting and interest payments. If you are renting five or more separate units, you must:
- tell the tenant whether the deposit will earn interest (and the details of the interest)
- supply the name and address of the Florida bank where the deposit is being held, and
- give tenants a copy of the relevant portion of the Florida security deposit law.
6. Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities for Repairs and Maintenance
Your best defense against rent-withholding hassles and disputes over security deposits is to clearly set out responsibilities for repairs and maintenance in your lease or rental agreement, including:
- the tenant's responsibility to keep the rental premises clean and sanitary and to pay for any damage the tenant caused
- a requirement that the tenant alert you to defective or dangerous conditions in the rental property, such as a broken heater, with specific details on how you will handle complaint and repair requests, and
- restrictions on tenant repairs and alterations, such as adding a built-in dishwasher, installing a burglar alarm system, or painting walls without your permission.
7. Restrictions on Illegal Activity by Tenants
Your lease or rental agreement should include an explicit clause prohibiting disruptive behavior, such as excessive noise, and illegal activity, such as drug dealing. This will help you avoid trouble among your tenants, prevent property damage, and limit your exposure to lawsuits from residents and neighbors.
Be sure your lease or rental agreement is clear on the subject. If you do allow pets, you should identify any special restrictions, such as a limit on the size or number of pets or a requirement that the tenant will keep the yard free of all animal waste. If you don’t allow pets, be sure to say so.
9. Landlord’s Access to Rental Property
To avoid tenant complaints that you illegally entered their rental unit or violated their privacy rights, your lease or rental agreement should clarify your legal right of access to the property -- for example, to make repairs -- and state how much advance notice you will provide the tenant before entering. With some exceptions (such as in cases of emergency), Florida law requires that you give tenants at least 12 hours’ notice of intended entry, and that you enter at a reasonable time, between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Federal law require landlords to disclose lead-based paint hazards before tenants move in. Florida also has additional disclosure requirements regarding radon, and (for buildings four or more stories high) the availability (or lack thereof) of fire protection.
11. Authority to Receive Legal Papers
Florida requires you to tell the tenant to whom (such as the landlord or a property manager) the tenant should give notices and demands (such as requests for maintenance) and legal papers (such as a court summons).
12. Other Restrictions
Your Florida lease or rental agreement should cover any other legal restrictions, such as limits on the type of business a tenant may run from home, as well as important rules on things like parking and use of common areas.
Where to Find Florida Lease and Rental Forms
For Florida rental documents, including leases and rental agreements, see the Real Estate and Rental Property Forms section of Nolo. These ready-to-use legal forms include detailed, clause-by-clause instructions, that cover the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in Florida. Options include the following:
Florida Residential Lease for Multiple Tenants
Florida Residential Lease for a Single Tenant
Florida Residential Rental Agreement for Multiple Tenants
Florida Residential Rental Agreement for a Single Tenant