In Florida, the landlord-tenant law protects renters with or without a lease. If you rent a home or apartment without signing a formal lease, you may still have a verbal agreement that specifies both your obligations as a renter, the landlord's responsibility, and certain terms and conditions including repairs, duration of the lease and security deposit. Florida oral agreements are legally binding.
Verbal or Written
Some tenants may be under the misconception that without a signed lease there is no obligation. A lease does not necessarily have to be a written contract. A verbal agreement between a tenant and a landlord is allowed under Florida law. However, if the duration of the lease exceeds one year, the Statute of Frauds requires the least to be in writing. Tenants who rent on a month-to-month basis may opt for a verbal lease.
Advantages of a Written Lease
A written lease is generally preferred since it eliminates any confusion. A written lease clearly specifies the duration of lease, both the tenant and landlord's responsibility, late fees, payment due dates and the security deposit. A written lease also safeguards you against unexpected rate hikes and evictions.
As long as you pay your rent, you have the same rights as any other renter in Florida. For example, under Florida's landlord-tenant law, the landlord may not charge you for more than damages incurred, which can include cleaning the home and income lost while trying to locate a new tenant. Although landlords have the right to enter the unit, landlords cannot enter anytime they please. Reasonable notice generally must be given, and the visit must occur within reasonable hours. Landlords are responsible for any necessary repairs. Should the landlord fail to make repairs and maintain a safe, healthy environment, you can remedy the situation by making the repairs yourself and deducting the cost from your rent, withholding the rent or breaking the lease.
As long as you pay your rent for the month, you cannot be forced out of the home, even without a lease. For instance, if you pay rent in June, the landlord must wait until the rent is due in July before making you move out of the property. When renters fail to pay, the landlord must go through the legal eviction process. It is also illegal for the landlord to turn off your utilities, change the locks or remove your personal possessions from the property. The eviction process begins with a three-day notice, demanding payment of rent or possession of the premises.
Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.