Florida law requires that a month-to-month tenancy be terminated in a specific manner. As simple as the manner is, if a landlord does not comply with the law, the tenant may have a defense to an eviction.
The most common at-will tenancy is a month-to-month tenancy because most tenancies require rent to be paid once per month. See F.S. 83.46(2) (“the duration is determined by the periods for which the rent is payable”). Month-to-month tenancies usually begin on the first day of the month, because that is when rent is due, and end on the last day of the month. Whatever the day that rent is owed is when the monthly period begins. For example, if rent is owed on the 1st day of the month, the tenancy begins on the first day.
F.S. 83.57(3) provides as follows:
Termination of tenancy without specific term.—A tenancy without a specific duration, as defined in s. 83.46(2) or (3), may be terminated by either party giving written notice in the manner provided in s. 83.56(4), as follows:
(1) When the tenancy is from year to year, by giving not less than 60 days’ notice prior to the end of any annual period;
(2) When the tenancy is from quarter to quarter, by giving not less than 30 days’ notice prior to the end of any quarterly period;
(3) When the tenancy is from month to month, by giving not less than 15 days’ notice prior to the end of any monthly period; and
(4) When the tenancy is from week to week, by giving not less than 7 days’ notice prior to the end of any weekly period.
If the landlord wants to terminate a month-to-month tenancy, he must deliver written notice to the tenant terminating the month-to-month tenancy at least 15 days prior to the end of any monthly period.
The notice must be in writing
The “monthly period” begins on the date that rent is due; thus the “end of any monthly period” is the last day of the monthly period (i.e. the day before rent is due).
The notice must be delivered pursuant to F.S. 83.56(4):
Posting on a conspicuous place on the premises
Delivering a copy of the notice to the tenant (e.g. mail, or email - see Harari v. Whitford decision)
Notice Calculation (see also Calculating Legal Notices)
The notice must be delivered at least 15 days prior to the end of the monthly period. The notice is defective if it gives the tenant only 15 days, but not 15 days prior to the end of the monthly period. See Brewer v. Harris, 5 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 505 (1st Cir. App. 1998). See also Mainstreet Townhomes v. Latham, 9 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 786b (Broward County 2002).
Example: if the landlord delivered notice on, say, May 5, terminating the tenancy on May 20, the notice would be defective. The effective termination date must be at the end of that month, so May 31.
Example: If the notice is delivered on, say, May 18, the effective termination date would be June 30, because that is at least 15 days prior to the end of the next monthly period.
Mailbox Rule. If the notice is delivered by mail, add 5 days to the notice period. Thus, to timely notice a 15 day notice to terminate the month-to-month tenancy, the notice must be mailed 20 days prior to the end of the monthly period.