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Seward Law Office, P.A. Motto
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When A Tenant Breaks A Lease


Few tenants sign a lease with the intention to break it or leave the premises before its conclusion – but sometimes, life happens, and they may need to depart suddenly. Doing so is called breaking a lease, and while some of these situations can be settled between the landlord and the tenant, sometimes it is necessary for the landlord to enlist legal help to ensure they get the rent and other expenses to which they may be entitled. If your tenants have broken their lease, contacting an attorney can help to clarify your options.

Tenants On The Hook

In general, tenants in Florida are required to pay rent for the entire term of the lease unless certain exceptions exist – for example, if the tenant enters active military services, the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) allows them to break the lease provided at least 30 days’ notice is given. Another common legal justification for breaking a lease is constructive eviction, which occurs when a unit is so unsafe as to not be habitable. However, these situations are rare, and in the majority of cases, a tenant will be on the proverbial hook for the entirety of the unpaid rent.

One thing to keep in mind is that unlike in many states, Florida landlords do not have any duty to ‘mitigate’ the damages they sustain when a tenant breaks a lease (such as trying to find a new tenant). If your tenant breaks a lease, you have the right to simply stand by and make no attempt to re-rent the space. You have the right to put the tenant’s security deposit toward any shortfall in rent, but if you have still not been made whole, you generally have the right to file suit against the tenant to try and recoup any money you are still owed.

Your Rights & Responsibilities

In addition to filing suit for unpaid rent, landlords in Florida have the right to try and collect early termination fees or liquidated damages (damages agreed upon by both parties to a contract, to be paid in the event of a breach). Every case will be different, but depending on the specific facts, you may be able to collect these fees from a tenant who breaks their lease, if the lease itself does not forbid them. That said, it is important to abide by the provisions of the lease itself; if, for example, no liquidated damages clause is in the lease, it will generally not be possible to collect them.

It may be possible in your situation to work out a compromise with your tenant, or to take advantage of other forms of dispute resolution like mediation or arbitration. However, the courts are available if the dispute cannot be handled otherwise, and the right attorney on your side can make all the difference. Landlords and tenants both have rights and responsibilities in Florida, and it is important to know both sides before taking legal action.

Contact A Tampa Landlord-Tenant Attorney

Most tenants do not break their leases, but as a landlord, it is important that you know what to do if this situation does come to pass. A Tampa landlord-tenant attorney from the Seward Law Office can help to answer any questions you may have about the process. Call our office today at 813-252-6789 to schedule a consultation.


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