In Florida, there are several reasons why a landlord might be legally permitted to break a lease with a tenant. These reasons are categorized as “with cause” and “without cause”.
Breaking a Lease With Cause
Breaking, or terminating, a lease with cause simply means that some event occurred that spurred you to end the tenancy. Common reasons landlords break a lease with cause include when the tenant:
- Hasn’t paid rent
- Engaged in illegal activities on the property
- Caused significant damage to the property
- Allowed an unapproved roommate to move in
- Brought in an unapproved pet to the property
- Violated some other terms of the lease agreement
When a landlord has cause to break a lease, they must give the tenant written notice. The type of notice depends on the cause to break the lease. The three types of notice a landlord can give a tenant to break a lease in Florida with a cause are:
- Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit
Given when unpaid rent is the cause to break the lease. The tenant has three days to either pay the rent due or move out of the property. If they do neither, the landlord may begin the eviction process.
- Seven-Day Notice to Cure
If the cause to break the lease is something that can be corrected, such as bringing in an unauthorized pet, the landlord can issue this notice to ask the tenant to either correct the issue or move. If the tenant does neither, the landlord can proceed with eviction.
- Seven-Day Unconditional Quit
This notice is the most severe and only given when the cause for the landlord breaking the lease can not be corrected. Common reasons for a seven-day unconditional quit notice include illegal activities on the property, intentional property damage by the tenant, frequent unreasonable disturbances, or repeated lease violations in a 12-month period. With this notice, the tenant must leave the property within seven days or face eviction.
*Note: All of the above notices are on business days, so weekends and holidays are not included in the three or seven-day countdowns.
Breaking a Lease Without Cause
A landlord can break a lease without cause, meaning that the tenant did nothing to trigger the lease termination, but when the termination will happen depends on the lease terms.
If the tenant is renting on a fixed-term lease, such as a six-month or one-year lease, then the landlord must wait until the lease term is over to terminate the tenancy without cause. The landlord is not required to notify the tenant of the termination at the end of the lease term unless the tenant requests a lease renewal, at which point they should be notified of the tenancy termination. Even though it is not required by law, it is considered a professional courtesy to inform your tenant when you intend to dissolve the tenancy.
If the rental agreement is on a month-to-month basis (or there is no formal rental agreement), then the landlord can discontinue the tenancy after providing the tenant with a 15-day written notice to vacate.
While the landlord has the right to terminate a tenancy for the reasons above, that doesn’t mean the tenant has to go willingly. Tenants also have recourse to fight lease terminations and evictions in Florida.
It is also permissible in some cases to add clauses to the lease that address early termination of the lease by the landlord or tenant. Consult with an attorney versed in landlord-tenant laws for more information.
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