Florida Statutes secs. 83.56, .57, .575, .59, and .682 provide the methods by which a landlord can terminate a tenancy. The landlord and tenant must comply with the notice requirements to terminate a tenancy. For landlords, the tenancy termination events include 4 main categories:
A termination event has happened (e.g. failure to pay rent, violation of the lease, end of lease term [not renewed, extended]).
Tenant abandoned the premises. F.S. 83.59(3)(c).
Tenant surrendered the premises. F.S. 83.59(3)(b).
Deceased tenant. F.S. 83.59(d)
No "Self Help"
Landlords may only recover possession of the premises through court order and cannot do anything to the tenant or the rental property that would interfere with their use and enjoyment of the property until the sheriff has removed the tenant from the premises with a writ of possession.
The following actions by the landlord are expressly prohibited under F.S. 83.67:
Disrupt utilities including, but not limited to, water, heat, light, electricity, gas, elevator, garbage collection, or refrigeration, whether or not the utility service is under the control of, or payment is made by, the landlord.
Change locks or bootlock the doors
Remove tenant’s personal property
Remove the outside doors, locks, roof, walls, or windows of the unit except for purposes of maintenance, repair, or replacement.
Liability: F.S. 86.67(6) provides for a landlord’s liability if he violates this section: “A landlord who violates any provision of this section shall be liable to the tenant for actual and consequential damages or 3 months’ rent, whichever is greater, and costs, including attorney’s fees. Subsequent or repeated violations that are not contemporaneous with the initial violation shall be subject to separate awards of damages.”
(1) Termination Events
The following are termination events.
The tenant failed to pay back rent owed during a 3 day notice to pay period. F.S. 83.56(3).
The tenant materially violated the lease and failed to cure a curable violation during the notice period. F.S. 83.56(2)(b).
The tenant committed the same or similar violation within 12 months of the landlord delivering a 7 day notice to cure. F.S. 83.56(2)(b).
The tenant materially violated the lease in a non-curable manner and landlord terminated with proper notice. F.S. 83.56(2)(a).
Termination of a month-to-month tenancy when landlord terminated the tenancy with proper notice. F.S. 83.57.
Termination of a specific lease term. F.S. 83.575.
A Tenant is a Member of the Armed Forces and terminates early with proper notice. F.S. 83.682.
Mutual agreement by the parties to terminate the tenancy.
When the tenant abandons the premises, the landlord can terminate the tenancy, but determining abandonment is fact-specific and requires an investigation to determine if the tenant has the intent to abandon the tenancy.
F.S. 83.59(3)(c) provides, “In the absence of actual knowledge of abandonment, it shall be presumed that the tenant has abandoned the dwelling unit if he or she is absent from the premises for a period of time equal to one-half the time for periodic rental payments. However, this presumption does not apply if the rent is current or the tenant has notified the landlord, in writing, of an intended absence.”
In most cases, the landlord will not have “actual knowledge of abandonment”, since tenants who abandon do not express their abandonment, and as such, the landlord must have procedures in place to make the determination.
When the Tenant surrenders possession of the premises to the landlord, the landlord can terminate the tenancy. Note: the landlord is not required to accept the tenant’s surrender. The landlord could reject the surrender and hold the tenant to the lease agreement.
(4) Deceased Tenant
When a last remaining tenant dies, the landlord can terminate the tenancy, but there are conditions.
F.S. 83.59(3)(d) provides that the landlord may terminate the tenancy “[w]hen the last remaining tenant of a dwelling unit is deceased, personal property remains on the premises, rent is unpaid, at least 60 days have elapsed following the date of death, and the landlord has not been notified in writing of the existence of a probate estate or of the name and address of a personal representative. This paragraph does not apply to a dwelling unit used in connection with a federally administered or regulated housing program, including programs under s. 202, s. 221(d)(3) and (4), s. 236, or s. 8 of the National Housing Act, as amended.”
Right of Action for Possession
F.S. 83.59(1) provides the landlord with a right of action for possession of the premises if the tenancy has been terminated and the tenant fails to vacate:
“If the rental agreement is terminated and the tenant does not vacate the premises, the landlord may recover possession of the dwelling unit as provided in this section.”
F.S. 83.59(3) provides that the landlord shall not recover possession of the premises except in the following 4 events:
(a) In an action for possession or other civil action in which the issue of right of possession is determined.
(b) When the tenant has surrendered possession of the dwelling unit to the landlord.
(c) When the tenant has abandoned the dwelling unit.
(d) Upon the death of the tenant.
Notices to Terminate Tenancy
The following is a list of notices the landlord can deliver to terminate the tenancy when the facts give justification for the termination:
3 day notice to pay or vacate
7 day notice to cure
7 day to terminate for the same or similar second or subsequent violation within 12 month as the prior 7 day notice
7 day notice to terminate for a non-curable violation
Notice to terminate without a specific term (at-will tenancy, e.g. month-t0-month tenancy)
Notice of non-renewing a specified lease term
Notice of abandonment determination
Notice of acceptance of tenant surrender
Notice of acceptance of a military tenant’s early termination
Notice to terminate upon deceased tenant