Unfortunately, even when both a Landlord and Tenant sign a Lease stating that the term will be for a year or some other length of time, sometimes the Tenant needs to terminate the Lease early for various reasons. These reasons may include moving to another state for a new job, a messy break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend or an unexpected change in the circumstances for the Tenant.
In Florida, a Tenant is legally responsible for paying rental payments as they become due and owing, pursuant to their written Lease Agreement and Florida Statutes, Chapter 83, Part II.
Remedies For Breaking Lease Early
What happens if the Tenant breaks the Florida Residential Lease Agreement and vacates the property early? In many situations, the Tenant breaks the lease without paying the monthly rental payment, vacates the property, and leaves the Landlord high and dry.
Pursuant to Florida Statute 83.595,
- the Landlord may treat the rental agreement as terminated and retake possession thereby terminating any further liability of the Tenant;
- the Landlord may retake possession of the property and hold the Tenant liable for the difference between the monthly rental payment under the Residential Lease Agreement and what the Landlord is able to recover from re-leasing the property. All Landlords must exercise good faith in attempting to re-lease the property;
- the Landlord may stand by and do nothing and hold the Tenant liable for the monthly rental payments; or
- the Landlord may charge liquidated damages as provided in the Residential Lease Agreement or an early termination fee.
Thoroughly Review Your Lease
Shipp Law Legal Tip– ***Check the Lease*** For the most part, a majority of Landlords, Realtors, and Property Managers in the State of Florida use the standard Florida Bar Lease Form. This Lease form incorporates the EARLY TERMINATION FEE/LIQUIDATED DAMAGES ADDENDUM as a part of the actual Lease.
If that form is not used, the Landlord or Tenant can add a clause to the Lease which states that if the Tenant breaches the Residential Lease Agreement and vacates the property before the natural termination of the tenancy, the Landlord may charge liquidated damages or an early termination fee, if the amount does not exceed 2 months’ rent. Additionally, in the case of an early termination fee, the Tenant is required to give no more than 60 days notice.
These remedies are only available if the Tenant and Landlord agree and accept these terms by expressly incorporating them in writing in the Florida Residential Lease Agreement which is signed by the Landlord and the Tenant. Please remember that the Tenant has the absolute right to not agree to a liquidated damages clause or an early termination fee. If so, the Tenant is liable for the damages as provided by Florida Statues and/or the Florida Residential Lease Agreement.
In sum, the Liquidated Damages Clause/Early Termination fee can be a great tool in Florida residential leases and they can determine the amount the Tenant will be held liable for if the Tenant breaches the lease and vacates early.
We always recommend that you review your lease agreement before signing, so that you fully understand the rights of both the Landlord and the Tenant and what happens in the event of a monetary or non-monetary breach of the Lease occurs.
The West Palm Beach Eviction Attorneys of Law Office of Ryan S. Shipp, PLLC are here to help with all of your Eviciton and Landlord Tenant needs including client representation in Lease negotiations for residential and commercial lease agreements. Call us today at 561.699.0399 to see how we can help! We are located in Lantana, Florida. We serve West Palm Beach and South Florida.