A lease agreement is a binding contract that outlines specific terms that must be followed by both parties. There are, however, some circumstances that may result in the lease needing to be broken.
For example, if a tenant is unable to pay rent or needs to relocate due to his or her job, marriage, or divorce.
This article will address such concerns and we shall look at the laws in Florida in matters of legally breaking a lease.
How to Break a Rental Lease
Breaking a lease carries a number of consequences. They include a potential lawsuit, an unreturned security deposit, a negative effect on one’s credit score, and difficulty finding a new home.
Renters Rights & Responsibilities When Signing a Lease in Orlando, Florida
Even if there is justification for the eviction, it is illegal for a landlord to:
- Cut off the property’s utilities or source of electricity and water;
- Change the locks or passcodes of the rental unit to prevent a tenant’s entry;
- Discriminate against service members as prospective tenants;
- Remove a part of the rental house like doors, windows or walls except for purposes of repair and property maintenance.
The landlord must follow the correct procedure for an eviction. Part of this is sending the required eviction notice. For example, the landlord must respect the process by following the applicable 3-day notice for the tenant to pay rent or leave the property. Or the 7-day notice for the tenant to cure a violation of the lease agreement or leave the premises in Orlando, Florida.
Tenant Rights and Duties When Signing a Lease
The Florida landlord-tenant laws require landlords to adhere to the lease laws when ending the tenancy. In cases of non-payment of rent, tenants are given a 3-day notice to either pay the rent or move out of the property. Failure to do so can provide grounds for the landlord to file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant.
For illegal activities within the property, Florida rental laws require the landlord to hand the tenant a 7-days’ unconditional quit notice. This notice is final and does not offer any other options to the tenant but to leave the rental property.
If you’re a tenant, you have to understand that signing a lease agreement obligates you legally to pay the rent for the duration of the leasing period. To illustrate, if your rent every month is $2,000 and your lease expires in a year, it’s your duty to pay the sum total of $24,000 for the entire rent term.
Even if you break the lease agreement, for example, on the 10th month, you’re still liable to pay the landlord $4,000.
When Breaking a Lease Agreement is Legally Justified in Orlando, Florida
1. Under Florida laws, the rental property is deemed uninhabitable when it does not meet safety standards.
According to Florida State Laws, the rental property must adhere to the building, housing, and health codes. The landlord is responsible for making sure the foundation of his or her rental unit and all its structural parts are well maintained. It must be free from danger by being strong enough to withstand normal forces and loads. The landlord must also exercise great care in maintaining the plumbing system.
2. When a tenant experiences harassment from the landlord or invasion of privacy.
When a tenant experiences being locked out of the rental property by the landlord, this counts as harassment. Furthermore, when a tenant has their utilities cut off by the landlord and parts of the rental property (door, window) removed, this is deemed as being “constructively evicted.” The tenant is no longer liable to his obligations of the lease.
Florida laws also stipulate that the tenant must be given 12 hours notice before a landlord can enter the property for inspection. If the landlord does not adhere to this rule (unless the tenant gives consent for lesser than 12 hours), then breaking the lease is perfectly justified.
3. When a tenant begins his active military duty.
A tenant who’s a Service Member must submit a written notice to the landlord. It should be attached with a copy of deployment orders or a letter from the Service Member’s officer that informs the tenant’s pending deployment.
They must also prove that for the next 90 days, they will stay on active duty and that the lease was signed prior to engaging in active duty.
Landlord’s Duty to Find a New Tenant in Orlando, Florida
In Florida, the tenant is still obligated to pay the remainder of the rent when it’s due. The landlord can also summon their rights to be paid for the damages or early termination conditions if it’s included in the lease agreement. For example, if said lease contains a notice period of 60 days and two (2) months of rent payment then the landlord can collect the damages and require such notification.
Note that it is up to the landlord which option to exercise. They can still bind you to pay for the remaining rent of the entire leasing period.
Bottom Line: How to Get out of a Lease in Florida
Avoiding breaking the lease of your Orlando, Florida rental property would be the best option. Unfortunately, if it’s not possible, try to follow the proper process to make it as smooth as possible.
If you have specific questions, hire the services of a qualified Florida attorney. Alternatively, you can seek help from a knowledgeable property management company.
Caveat: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in Florida. Laws frequently change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.