Florida Governor, Rick Scott, signed many significant changes to the Landlord-Tenant Act that became effective July 1, 2013. There are many new changes to the Florida law that Landlord’s and Tenant’s must be aware of. Below is a list of a few changes made to the Florida Landlord-Tenant Act:
Attorney Fees – In the past there has been confusion on who should pay attorney fees in certain situations regarding lease enforcement, and it was understood that the prevailing party would be entitled to these fees. In the new statute, attorney fees will not be awarded in a case where a person is injured. For lawsuits not involving personal injury, the lease cannot allow the landlord to force tenants to waive their rights to fees.
Security Deposit – The new statute clarifies that the landlord is not required to notify the tenant if the bank where the security deposit is being held, changes names, was sold, or merged with another financial institution.
Security Deposit Upon Property Sale – It was unclear before the new law what happened to the renter’s security deposit once the property sold. Before the new law, most former owners would keep the deposit and not transfer it to the new owner. Now the new landlord must get the deposit from the previous property owner. The deposit is limited to one month’s rent.
Disclosure – Starting January 2014, all Florida leases will be required to include a disclosure. Some information this disclosure must include is:
- Landlord does not need to notify tenant rent is due if that tenant is using advance rent;
- Both landlord and tenant are encouraged to informally settle disputes, but each party has the right to sue the other if an agreement is not reached; and
- Landlord will have 30 days from the time the tenant moves out to send a “Notice to Impose the Claim on Security Deposit”.
“Notice of Intention to Impose a Claim on Security Deposit” – Before the new statute, it was unclear if the landlord was required to refund the entire amount of deposit or use it against the amount the tenant owed, refunding the rest, if the Notice of Intention was not filed on time or correctly. Now it is stated that the landlord must return all of the deposit, but will be able to bring a suit for the principle claim.
Window Screens – Landlords are no longer responsible for changing out damaged window screens each time it is needed. Now they are only required to provide screens in reasonably good condition once a year.
Criminal Offenses – Crimes committed by either tenant or landlord are enforceable by criminal action as well as civil action, as opposed to strictly civil action.
Curable Violations – Before the new law, landlords were required to send out two 7-Day Notices allowing the tenant to cure said violation within a 12-month period. Now the landlord may file in the courts for an eviction after giving ONE 7-Day notice.
Partial Rent Payments – Previously, landlords could not take any court action against a tenant if they had accepted a partial payment. Now they may accept a partial payment and still file for eviction if the landlord either gives the tenant a receipt or places the amount of partial rent into the Court Registry. The landlord can also provide a new 3-day notice. This notice can be hand delivered, but should also be posted.
Subsidized Housing and Crime, Non-Compliance, and Evictions – Instead of the previous law where a landlord was exempt from filing an eviction 45 days after a crime or non-compliance has been committed, they now have 45 days from the time they find out about the crime. This was enacted based on cases where the landlord did not find out a crime was committed until after the 45 days.
Lease Ending Notices – A landlord can require a 30 day prior notice from the tenant to vacate, but must also accept a 30 day notice of when the tenant chooses to vacate. This means they do not need to vacate the building in 30 days, and can be as high as 60 days.
Evictions – Before the law, a 3 day notice any deficiency could get the case dismissed. Now a judge will not dismiss a case due to a problem with the notice, and the landlord has a chance to legally make a correction, serve a new notice, or file a plea, as long as the tenant places their money in the Court Registry.
Writ of Possession – With this new law, weekends and holidays are not omitted when calculating the time passage from service to execution. A writ of possession may also be served on a weekend or legal holiday.
Prohibited Landlord Practices – 2 more items are added to the list of things a landlord cannot do. This list consists of shutting down utilities, locking a tenant without proper eviction, discrimination, retaliation against a tenant’s group, or discrimination of military members and others. It now includes: retaliation against a tenant that owes rent to a condo or homeowner’s association after legal rent demand, and retaliation against a tenant that utilizes their rights under local, state, or federal fair housing laws.