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Florida Statute 83.56: Tenant's right to legally break lease
If the landlord materially fails to comply with the rental agreement within 7 days after delivery of written notice by the tenant specifying the noncompliance and indicating the intention of the tenant to terminate the rental agreement, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement.
When can a tenant legally break a rental lease?
A lease obligates both you and your landlord for a set period of time, usually a year. Under a typical lease, a landlord can't raise the rent or change other terms, until the lease runs out. A landlord can't force you to move out before the lease ends, unless you fail to pay the rent or violate other significant terms of the lease agreement. Tenants are legally bound to pay rent for the full lease term, whether or not they continue to live in the rental unit—with some exceptions.
The easiest way to break a lease is with the approval of the landlord. It can be as simple as asking them to allow the early termination of the lease. The landlord and the tenant can agree for a replacement renter to take over the lease, or they can agree to a settlement amount that will be less expensive than the balance of the lease amount. This is an uncommon occurrence, and the tenant will likely have to look elsewhere for an affordable way to break the lease.
Many leases automatically convert to a month-to-month status after their initial terms have been completed. The terms and conditions remain the same except for the length of the lease. Whether they state these terms or whether the landlord continues to collect the rent after the lease expires, they have legally been converted to a month-to-month lease and can be legally terminated with a 30-day notice to the landlord. Other technicalities that can prematurely terminate a lease are blank lease ending dates or illegal clauses that designate that security deposits are non-refundable. When none of these lease-breaking methods are available, a tenant must look for other legal reasons to terminate the lease.
You may be able to legally move out before the lease term ends in the following situations:
- You are starting active military duty
- The rental unit Is unsafe or violates Florida health or safety codes
- The landlord harasses you or violates your privacy rights
Your first step should always be to communicate your requests to the landlord. This can be done via phone call, email, or text. If your landlord ignores your requests, you should send written legal notice drafted by an attorney. This written notice is often enough to get your landlord to respond. It also serves as a necessary form of proof if the dispute ultimately turns into a legal battle.
Tenant's Clinic and tenantsclinic.com offers affordable, unbundled legal services to tenants who may be having their rights violated by their landlord. All of our documents are reviewed by experienced tenant legal representatives and are prepared in accordance with all applicable Florida statutes and Florida Court Rules.