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Florida Leases and Rental Agreements Laws

Lease and rental agreements are governed by state laws, which define limits on security deposits, time limits for the return of deposits, and other provisions. State laws also limit discrimination by landlords. Florida leases and rental agreement laws place no limits on the amount of security deposits, but prohibit all the same types of discrimination laid out in the federal Fair Housing Act. If you have questions about the limits to leases and rental agreements in Florida, the following article provides the basics.

The main provisions of Florida leases and rental agreement laws are listed in the table below, while more in-depth coverage follows. See FindLaw's Landlord Tenant Law section for additional articles and resources.

Code Section 83.04, 49; 760.23
Terms of Leases Mere payment of rent is not construed as a renewal for the term; but if tenant holding over does so with written consent of landlord then it becomes a tenancy at will; otherwise tenancy at sufferance
Deposits No limits on deposits; landlord may elect to (1) put deposit in non-interest bearing account; (2) hold in interest bearing account at either 75% of average rate or 5%; or (3) post a surety bond and pay tenant interest at 5%; landlord must tell tenant in 30 days which he's doing; must return deposit within 15 days
Discrimination No discrimination on basis of race, color, national origin, sex, handicap, or religion; same as Fair Housing Act
Uniform Residential Landlord & Tenant Act Adopted? Yes

Florida Deposits and Leases

Florida law governs whether many lease terms or deposits are enforceable. In Florida, only paying rent is not enough to renew an entire lease term. As well, there is no limit to the amount a landlord can require as a deposit, and landlords are prohibited from requiring higher deposits from people protected by the federal Fair Housing Act, or the Florida Fair Housing Act.

Federal Prohibitions on Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act, initially passed in 1968, prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. This means that landlords may not do anything on the following list, based on the previously mentioned factors:

  • Refuse to rent housing or sell housing
  • Refuse to enter into negotiations for housing
  • Make different terms or conditions
  • Provide different housing or facilities
  • Lie about housing availability
  • Persuade owners to leave a home or area
  • Deny services for renting or selling dwellings.

This law prohibits a lot of actions that may not be obvious. Among other things, this means that landlords or sellers cannot refuse to rent an apartment to a couple because they are unmarried, charge extra for a person who needs a wheelchair accessible apartment, or only rent units with old carpeting to families with children.

Florida Fair Housing

In addition to the federal laws, every state has its own fair housing laws. Florida law prohibits discrimination just like the federal Fair Housing Act. This law is called the Florida Fair Housing Act. Unlike the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Florida has smaller, local branches that help individuals defend their right to equal housing. Many of the centers are smaller non-profit organizations that help Florida residents in civil court. As well, the Florida Attorney General works with the Florida Commission on Human Relations and smaller advocacy groups to enforce the provisions of the Florida Fair Housing Act.

Confusion about lease terms, deposits, and renewing leases are common. As well, and unfortunately, illegal discrimination happens, and it can go unnoticed if nobody speaks up. If you would like to know more about your rights in a rental agreement or lease, or if you would like to discuss the specifics of your rental situation, there are many attorneys throughout Florida with experience in landlord-tenant law who may be able to help. You may want to speak with a civil rights attorney as well.

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