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Florida Property Management Laws

Property management can be profitable, but rarely is it easy. Due to the legal regulations related to how landlords and property managers must treat tenants, maintain properties and provide services, a lot goes into maintaining rental properties. For prospective landlords in Florida, understanding the state legislation and expectations for property managers is very important. This is especially true for those with previous property management experience in other states; what is expected in Florida is not the same as in other locations.

For those considering property management, this guide serves as a way to set expectations. Offering links to state laws as well as other official information that can inform property management decision, this guide offers a solid foundation of knowledge that landlords can use when listing properties for rent, screening tenants, collecting rent, maintaining properties in accordance with state law and, if necessary, preparing for eviction.

Key Points

  • 1 Landlords in Florida can take advantage of loose restrictions on raising rents, making it easy to stay competitive in the market.
  • 2 Individual landlords and property management companies are required to hold broker licenses, except when individual managers do not earn a salary based on commission or per-transaction charges.
  • 3 Failure to adhere to property management laws can result in fines and, if properties are not properly maintained, condemnation by local government.
  • 4 Due to the complexities in real estate law in Florida, property management companies need to be sure all transactions and rental property maintenance are managed legally without risk of improper procedure.

Note: This guide is intended to be used as an educational resource. The contents within do not constitute legal advice. To obtain information regarding property management laws in your state, consult a local attorney. This guide is based only on property management laws at the state level. Local county and city laws may exist that are not discussed in this guide. Consult a local attorney to obtain information that pertains to your specific location and situation.

Chapter 83 Landlord and Tenant Laws
Part I Nonresidential Tenancies
Part II Residential Tenancies
Part III Self-Service Storage Space

Property Management Laws

In Florida, renting and leasing out property are considered real estate activities. As such, property management companies are required to have an active broker license to engage in these kinds of behaviors in Florida. Individuals who act as property managers also must have licenses if they receive a commission for their work or handle rental agreements and leases for others. However, there is no requirement to hold a broker license for those managing their own personal properties. 

There are some exceptions for those working for property management companies. If an employee of a property management companies receives a salary for his or her work rather than commissions or per-transaction pay, this is not considered real estate activity, and there is no licensing requirement. 

Licenses in Florida are available for individuals and real estate companies. Those engaged with property management will need to apply for the appropriate license type based on organization. The requirements to apply for a license in Florida include:

  • A high school diploma
  • At least 18 years of age
  • A Social Security number
  • A 63-hour prelicense sales associate course
  • A 72-hour prelicense broker course
  • Electronic fingerprinting
  • Successful completion of the licensing exam

Applications for individuals and real estate companies are available through the My Florida License portal. There is no residency requirement for Florida real estate licenses. 

Rental Application Laws

What application fees are allowed? 

Application fees are permitted in Florida. There is no statute dictating limitations on application fees. In general, these fees are intended to cover the cost of running background checks and any screening necessary prior to executing a rental contract and should be reasonable. This may differ on a county or city level. 

Can property managers prescreen candidates?

Yes. Property managers in Florida can prescreen candidates as they see fit. This may include background checks, credit checks and interviews with previous landlords. In some areas, applicants may need to agree to these checks in writing. Application fees cannot be co-mingled with other money, like security deposits. 

It is important to note that the information received in a background check cannot be used to discriminate based on federally protected characteristics such as race, gender, age, religion, or familial status. These are protected under the Fair Housing Act of 1968. This is also prohibited under Florida Statute Chapter 760.08.

Security Deposit Laws

Is there a limit on the security deposit amount that can be charged? 

No. In Florida, there is no statute related to the maximum security deposit that can be charged (83.49). Most landlords charge either the equivalent of one or two months’ rent, but this amount can be set as desired. There may be county, city or regional rules related to security deposit use.

Are additional move-in fees allowed?  

There are no policies prohibiting additional move-in fees. Whether these are charged or not will depend on the landlord in question. There may be county, city or regional rules that apply. 

Does the landlord have to hold the security deposit in a specific way during occupancy? 

Yes, landlords are required to hold security deposits in a specific escrow account that cannot be comingled with other funds like rental payments (83.49 (1a-b)). However, landlords are permitted to post surety bonds if desired (83.49 (1c). The receipt of a deposit must be provided within 30 days and must include information about where the security deposit is being held and what the interest rate is, if applicable, based on Statute 83.49(2-3)

Does interest accrue on security deposits and must it be paid out?

Interest is not required but can be collected. If interest is accrued on security deposits, the tenant must receive at least 75% of the annualized interest rate or 5% of the total amount of interest, depending on landlord preference (83.49 (1a-b)). If a tenant violates the terms of his lease, there is no legal obligation to pay interest (83.49 (9)).

How long does the landlord have to return the security deposit after move out? 

If a security deposit is to be returned in full, landlords have 15 days to return the held security deposit. However, if the landlord plans to withhold any of the deposit amount, such as to make property repairs to remedy damage caused by the tenant, the tenant must be notified in writing by certified mail within 30 days (83.49 (3a). If this applies, the landlord must use the language specified in the Florida code (83.49 (3a)).  

Laws About Leases and Lease Termination

What types of lease terms are allowed?

Landlords can be flexible about lease terms, and there are no legal requirements. Year lease terms are the most common, but landlords are not required to offer this and can choose terms based on description. There may be county, city or regional rules that apply. Tenancy is interpreted based on rent collection if lease terms do not specify this; for example, if rent is paid weekly, the lease term is interpreted as week-to-week (83.46 (3)).

What happens if the tenant violates the lease? 

In Florida, landlords can’t make tenants leave before a lease is up unless the tenant violates the terms of the lease, like keeping a pet in a pet-free apartment, for example. In these circumstances, the landlord must give tenants a chance to rectify the situation. If this does not occur, a landlord has the right to issue an unconditional quit notice with a requirement to vacate the premises within seven days (83.56 (2)). If a renter fails to pay rent, landlords may issue a notice requiring the tenant to pay rent within three days or vacate the premises (83.56 (2)). Should a tenant fail to leave, a landlord is permitted to begin the eviction process. 

If a tenant leaves before the lease is up, landlords are permitted to continue to collect monthly rent until a new tenant is found. Unlike in some states, landlords are under no obligation to make a reasonable effort to re-rent the unit (83.595). A landlord can first apply the security deposit and then continue seeking payments. 

When can a tenant terminate a term lease without penalty?

There are several circumstances in which a tenant can violate a lease without penalty:

  • Starting an active duty military tour: The War and National Defense Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 App. U.S.C.A. § § 501 federal law permits military members to terminate leases without penalty via written notice. A lease will terminate 30 days after the date on which rent is next due as soon as notice is delivered. 
  • A rental unit violates Florida health or safety codes: If a rental unit is deemed to have violated safety or health codes in Florida, like no heat or water, a tenant may violate the lease without penalty (83.60).
  • Landlord harassment or violation of privacy rights: A landlord must provide 12 hours’ notice prior to entrance (83.53). If a landlord violates this or does things like removing doors and windows or cutting off utilities, tenants may be permitted to break the lease. 

Are there special lease termination rules for victims of domestic violence?

Unfortunately, there are no state-level protections for victims of domestic violence. Landlords can grant permission to terminate a lease for this reason but are not required. There may be county, city or regional rules that apply under these circumstances.

How and when can a landlord evict a tenant?

There are several circumstances under which a landlord can evict a tenant, including non-payment of rent or violation of lease terms (83.56 (2)). After proper notification procedures are followed as outlined above, landlords can begin the eviction process, which involves notifying a landlord with a summons and a complaint (83.59 (2)). Tenants are permitted to fight the eviction in court by filing a response within five days. At the hearing, a judge will determine the legitimacy of an eviction claim and issue a ruling. 

Landlords are not permitted to try to force tenants out by doing things like turning off utilities or changing locks. 

How much notice does a landlord have to give before making changes to the property that result in the termination of tenancy?

If a landlord plans to terminate a lease at the end of lease terms, 60 days’ notice is required for an annual lease (83.57(1)), 30 days is required for a quarter-to-quarter lease (83.57(2)), 15 days is required for a month-to-month lease (83.57(3)), and seven days is required for a week-to-week lease (83.57(4)).

Laws about Rent and Late Fees

When can a landlord increase rent? 

Landlords in Florida can raise rent at the end of a rent agreement. There are no state laws regarding when landlords must give notice of a rent increase, so this deadline is effectively whenever a landlord provides information about lease renewals. There may be county, city or regional rules that apply.

Is there a maximum amount of rent that a landlord can charge tenants? 

There is no maximum amount of rent that a landlord can charge tenants in Florida. There are no laws related to rent control, so there are no restrictions in place on rental increases. There may be county, city or regional rules that apply, but no policies on the state level. 

Is there a state-mandated grace period that landlords must give tenants before charging a late fee?

There are no statutes regarding charging late fees in Florida (83.46). Landlords can charge late fees as soon as the day following rental due dates. There are also no laws concerning minimum or maximum late fee amounts. 

What happens if a tenant’s rent check is returned?

If a check is returned by a bank due to insufficient funds, landlords are permitted to charge a late fee of 5% of the amount of the check (68.065).

Legally Required Disclosures

What types of disclosures are landlords required to supply regarding ownership of the property?

There are several disclosures require by Florida landlords. These include:

  • Fire protection: For buildings over three stories high, landlords must disclose the availability of fire protection (83.50).
  • Radon gas: All leases must include the following phrasing regarding radon gas per Statute 404.056: “RADON GAS: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that, when it has accumulated in a building in sufficient quantities, may present health risks to persons who are exposed to it over time. Levels of radon that exceed federal and state guidelines have been found in buildings in Florida. Additional information regarding radon and radon testing may be obtained from your county health department.”

Landlords are not required to make notifications about mold, bed bugs, lead paint or shared utilities, although these measures are suggested. This may vary on a county, city or regional basis depending on local health and fire safety codes. 

Can the owner designate an agent to serve and receive disclosures? 

Yes. However, if this is the case, the landlord is required to disclose the identity of this individual at the beginning of the lease term (83.50).

Laws About Landlord Responsibilities

How much notice does the landlord have to supply before entry? 

Landlords must provide at least 12 hours’ notice before entry (83.53(2)), unless alternate terms are agreed upon in the lease. However, landlords cannot force tenants to accept less than the legally mandated 12 hours. Landlords are allowed to enter without notice in the case of emergencies (83.53(2b)) and during a tenant’s extended absence (83.53(2d)). 

When can the tenant refuse to allow the landlord entry?

Tenants are not permitted to deny reasonable entry, such as entry during normal daytime hours to make necessary repairs (83.53). Tenants can’t pretend they did not receive a notice to prevent entry. However, tenants can prevent entry during unreasonable times, like in the middle of the night, provided there aren’t emergency circumstances.

What steps must the landlord take to keep the property habitable? 

Landlords are required to maintain a proper residence for tenants (83.51), including following all local health and safety codes. In the absence of such policies, landlords must maintain doors, windows and window screens, floors, stairs, front porches, foundations, exterior walls and all other structural components of a building. Further, landlords must provide extermination of pests, like mice, rats, cockroaches, bed bugs, ants and termites. If a tenant must move out for treatment to be completed, landlords must provide seven days’ notice and vacancy cannot exceed four days. Landlords are not required to cover rent during this period. 

  • Landlords must also provide:
  • Locks and keys
  • Clean, safe common areas
  • Garbage removal receptacles
  • Electricity
  • Heat during the winter, running water and hot water
  • Working smoke detectors, unless the absence of such is disclosed

While these amenities must be provided, landlords are allowed to charge tenants for utilities and garbage removal. 

Does the landlord have to supply a certificate of inspection?

No. There are no statutes related to a landlord’s obligation to supply a certificate of inspection. There may be county, city or regional rules that apply.

Are retaliatory actions prohibited?

Yes. Retaliatory actions by a landlord are prohibited (83.64). Items that may be seen as retaliatory include:

  • An increase in rent far beyond market rate or immediately following an action like joining a tenants’ union
  • A decrease in necessary services, like access to running water
  • Filing for eviction without proper cause
  • Refusal to make necessary repairs requested by a tenant, like fixing a leaking faucet
  • Harassment and intimidation, like entering without permission, changing locks without warning or removing tenant possessions for no reason

Property Maintenance and Repair Laws

What type of maintenance is the landlord responsible for?

Landlords are responsible for maintaining all the criteria determined by the Florida government as well as any regional or local policies that apply to providing a habitable property. This means things like electricity, plumbing, heat and property improvements (83.51), including structural deficiencies and roofing. If failure to perform a repair deems a property uninhabitable, the landlord is no longer upholding the law. 

How long does the landlord have to make repairs? 

Landlords have 20 days to make repairs that keep a property in a habitable state before tenants can take action (83.201). 

What type of maintenance is the tenant responsible for?

The tenant is responsible for any repairs that are caused by tenant neglect. For example, if a tenant is having a fight and accidentally breaks a provided light fixture, it is not required of the landlord to repair or replace the light (83.51). However, landlords can electively make these kinds of repairs to improve the tenant experience. 

When does a landlord have to return and/or lower rent due to diminished rental value?

A landlord has 20 days to make requested repairs (83.201) that are required to make a home habitable. After this point, tenants are permitted to withhold rent for the next rental period and thereafter until repairs are made. If the landlord makes the repairs, the tenant must repay the rent withheld. If the landlord still doesn’t make the requested repairs, tenants are permitted to terminate the leave, vacate the premises and keep the withheld rent. 

Tenants are also permitted to sue a landlord for the difference between the cost of repairs and the monthly rent. 

When can a tenant request an official inspection to determine substandard or dangerous living conditions?

Once the 20-day notice period has expired (83.201) and tenants begin withholding rent, they can also file with the local state department of health or building inspectors, depending on the jurisdiction. Health departments may fine landlords who continue to maintain substandard living conditions or, depending on the severity of a problem, condemn the property. 

Under what circumstances can a tenant make a repair and deduct the cost from the rent paid to the landlord?

As with other policies related to inadequate repairs, after 20 days (83.201), tenants are permitted to make repairs themselves. They can then withhold this amount from the total value of rent or sue for the difference if rent has already been paid for the period in which repairs were made. 

When is a landlord required to pay for relocation assistance? 

Landlords are not required to pay for relocation assistance per state law. There are some circumstances in which relocation may be required, such as under the Florida Department of Transportation Relocation Assistance Program or the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s relocation plan. However, these are not paid for by a landlord. 

Who Is Exempt? 

There are a few circumstances in which landlords do not have to abide by normal policies. For example, if a property manager owns land in a mobile home park, making repairs within a mobile home that is owned by the tenant is not required (83.51 (1)(b)). Subsidized housing properties may also be exceptions to some state statutes, or lack thereof. For example, subsidized housing rent cannot be raised arbitrarily. 

For more information about these exceptions, a real estate attorney is an excellent support system to make sure landlords are in compliance with Florida state law. 

The Florida state statutes cover a majority of relevant landlord-tenant regulations, but there are other sources that may contain relevant information. These resources can offer guidance outside of the legal code.

Name Phone Number Description
Rights and Duties of Tenants and Landlords – The Florida Bar N/A A summary of rights provided by the Florida State Bar Association
Florida Commission on Human Relations Fair Housing Policies (850) 488-7082 Details regarding the rights of tenants facing discrimination and how action can be taken
Disability Rights Florida Fair Housing Act (800) 342-0823 Information about the Fair Housing Act and the accommodations legally available to disabled persons
HUD Rental Help (202) 708-1112 Information about subsidized apartments and Section 8 housing

Note: This guide is intended to be used as an educational resource. The contents within do not constitute legal advice. To obtain information regarding property management laws in your state, consult a local attorney. This guide is based only on property management laws at the state level. Local county and city laws may exist that are not discussed in this guide. Consult a local attorney to obtain information that pertains to your specific location and situation.