Fixed-term leases offer plenty of benefits for landlords, from a stable source of income to reduced tenant turnover rates. As great as fixed-term rental agreements are, they also have some drawbacks, like the inability to end the lease or change the terms until after a set period of time.
Sometimes, landlords have to break a lease early for reasons such as the sale of the property or personal usage. Other times, it’s tenants who want to end the rental agreement before its expiration, whether it is because they’re relocating to another city or for financial difficulties.
The process of breaking a lease can be complicated and you have to be sure to follow all laws, including the landlord-tenant laws.
To help you out, the team at Central Florida Property Management has written this guide. We’ll explain both the unjustified and justified reasons for early lease termination in Florida, as well as anything else you should know about breaking a lease in this state.
Rental Agreements in Florida
A lease or rental agreement serves to outline the terms landlords and tenants will be following during a tenancy. The basic information any lease should have includes the rent amount and due date, payment methods, lease duration, and renewal conditions.
Rental agreements are also a great place to outline both landlords’ and tenants’ responsibilities regarding maintenance and repairs.
Your lease should explain when a tenant can and cannot break the lease early. In Florida, tenants can end a fixed-term lease without penalty under several conditions.
Depending on the circumstances, tenants are required to give as little as 7 days’ notice and as much as 60 days’ notice to terminate. Adding these terms to your lease can save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease in Florida
In Florida, a lease can be broken early only for a specific set of reasons. Here are five reasons that are usually not enough justification for releasing a tenant from the lease:
- The tenant bought a new house
- The tenant is starting a new job or school away from the unit
- The tenant needs more or less space in a rental
- The tenant wants to move in with their partner
- The tenant is moving closer to family
If a tenant breaks a lease for any of the reasons listed above without court approval, they will likely have to pay a penalty for not honoring the lease. This is why, in such cases, tenants opt to ask their landlord to agree to a mutual termination.
Justified Reasons to Break a Lease in Florida
Florida tenants can legally break a lease for the following reasons:
Early Termination Clause
Adding a termination clause to your lease can save you a lot of time and money in court hearings and legal fees. You can do this by adding a clause that allows tenants to terminate the lease early by paying a penalty fee, such as two month’s rent.
Or you can add a mutual termination clause so that the lease can be terminated early if both parties agree to it.
Active Military Duty
Tenants who are active members of the military and are relocated due to a change in station or deployment are legally allowed to break a lease early. To do so in Florida, tenants have to follow the following rules of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA):
- Proving the lease was signed before entering active duty
- Proving they will be on active duty for at least the upcoming 90 days
- Giving written notice to their landlord
Once notice is given, the lease can be terminated in as little as 30 days after the beginning of the next rent period. If, for instance, notice was given in mid-February and rent is due on the 1st of the month, the earliest the lease can terminate would be April 1st.
Inhabitable Housing Conditions
In Florida, if a landlord doesn’t maintain their rental properties in safe, habitable conditions, tenants are considered constructively evicted, which is not a legal eviction process.
This means that they are absolved of any obligations under the lease and are free to leave the property without having to pay any additional penalties.
Harassment or Privacy Violations
Building a strong relationship with your tenants goes a long way. In Florida, landlords not respecting their tenant’s privacy can be a justifiable reason for breaking the lease early.
In this state, entering the premises without at least 24 hours ‘ notice or changing the locks constitute enough justification for terminating a lease early.
Writing a solid rental agreement helps you keep your property and income protected. In Florida, a poorly crafted lease agreement can be deemed illegal, and as a result, the lease is immediately terminated.
Florida landlords are required to make several disclosures to tenants before signing the lease. These include disclosures of lead-based paint traces or radon gas hazards on the property, as well as information about the security deposit holdings. Failing to make these mandatory disclosures gives tenants enough justification to terminate the lease early.
Breaking a lease before time is never easy. But now, you are better prepared to keep your investment protected in case a tenant ever wants to break the lease early!
Do you need help breaking a lease in the Metro-Orlando area? Contact Central Florida Property Management today! With over a decade of experience, we know how to help you navigate the confusing waters of Florida landlord-tenant laws while keeping your rental business profitable.
Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in this blog is intended for general guidance and should not be considered as a replacement for professional legal advice. It is important to be aware that laws pertaining to property management may change, rendering this information outdated by the time you read it.