Whether you've lived in Florida your entire life or are hoping to move there soon, you probably already know that it's growing in population – and fast. The Sunshine State has over 21 million people and grew by 13.3% from April 2010 to July 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
But with so many people moving to the state, that can make the rental market competitive for renters and a boon for landlords. As the population of Florida continues to rise, new housing isn't being built fast enough, and rents are rising fast as a result. For example, rental property information company Apartment List's 2018 Cost Burden Report found that 62.7% of Miami's renters are cost burdened, meaning they're required to spend more than 30% of their income on rent.
"Florida actually has the highest share of cost-burdened renters of any state," says Igor Popov, chief economist for Apartment List.
As the rental market in Florida continues to be squeezed, both tenants and landlords should pay attention to laws set in place to dictate landlord-tenant relations. Tenants should keep a close eye on ensuring they're not treated unfairly, and landlords should follow necessary protocol before they get overeager about the potential to raise rent.
The rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords are established under Chapter 83, Part II of the Florida Statutes, which is designated as the Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act. Whether you're a landlord or tenant in Florida, you should be aware of what's expected of you, and what you can expect from the other party.
Written and Unwritten Leases
Under Florida law, a week-to-week, month-to-month, quarter-to-quarter or year-to-year lease can be established both in written or unwritten form. In either case, both the landlord and tenant must follow all other laws regarding notice to terminate the lease, paying rent and maintaining livable conditions at the property.
While an unwritten lease can be legal, you should always pursue a written agreement. This way, should a problem or dispute arise, you have written documentation regarding the terms of the lease.
The most common type of lease you can expect in Florida is a one-year lease, says John R. Ginn, an attorney and shareholder at Ginn & Patrou, P.A., a law firm operating in Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Florida, which specializes in evictions and real estate, among other areas.
“At the end of the year, both parties have to agree to renew (the lease),” Ginn says.
When either the landlord or tenant wishes to end tenancy of the home at will, notice must be given. The length of time for advance notice is based on the type of lease in place. For a standard yearly lease, three months' notice prior to the end of the lease term is required. A quarterly lease requires 45 days' notice prior to the end of the quarter, 15 days before the end of the month for a month-to-month lease and seven days' notice is needed for a week-to-week lease.
When a tenant moves out of a property, Florida landlords have 15 days from the point of vacancy to return the security deposit in full to the tenant, or otherwise provide an itemized list of necessary deductions, along with the remainder of the security deposit.
Florida law stipulates that tenants must pay rent and do so on time, based on the terms of the lease. In Ginn's experience, nonpayment of rent is the leading cause for landlords in Florida to pursue eviction. "As long as the tenant is paying the rent, the landlord will let a lot of things slide," he says.
There are some circumstances in which a tenant may legally withhold rent, when the landlord fails to maintain the property in a livable condition like repairing broken plumbing or mitigating mold growth on the walls. The tenant must give written notice seven days in advance of withholding rent, however, which serves as a period of time that the landlord can right the issue.
Condition of Property
Like in every state, Florida requires that all landlords maintain livable conditions in each rental property. Doors and windows must work properly and be able to lock, pest infestations must be mitigated and all rental properties must comply with health, building and safety codes, which may differ from city to city or county to county. The landlord is also responsible for paying to ensure the property is livable, so if a new tenant moves in and discovers the bedroom window doesn’t lock, he or she can’t be charged for that repair.
At no point is a landlord allowed to turn off utilities to a rental property, even if the tenant has failed to pay the bills. Instead, nonpayment of utility bills can serve as grounds for eviction.
Eviction and Removal of Tenant
A landlord may only pursue eviction if a tenant has violated the terms of lease. If the tenant has failed to pay rent, the landlord must give three days for the tenant to pay rent in full. A landlord is not legally required to accept partial payment of rent to keep the tenant in place, but he or she may choose to do so based on a payment agreement struck with the tenant or simply to help the tenant out.
In a situation where the tenant has violated the lease in some other way – causing damage to the property, for example – the landlord must give seven days to remedy the rental agreement violation.
After either of these periods, the landlord may sue for eviction. Once the tenant is served papers, he or she has five days to formally dispute the eviction. If no response is given from the tenant to the court, eviction may occur. "Once that five days runs, then the landlord can get a default ruling," Ginn says. The default ruling is in favor of the landlord for eviction, in these cases.
Other than not paying rent, Ginn says another common cause for landlords to pursue eviction is unauthorized guests on the property. Typically this happens when additional people are living at the property full-time while not included in the lease, which cause greater wear and tear to the home.
Princeton University's Eviction Lab reports that Florida had an eviction rate of 2.53% in 2016, equivalent to 71,615 formal evictions. The eviction rate is slightly above the national average and calculates to 195.67 evictions per day in the Sunshine State.
Of course, the reported eviction rate doesn't include the situations where a tenant is threatened with eviction or forced out without going through the court system.
When the court finds in favor of the tenant, denying eviction, Ginn says the most common reason is due to the fact that the landlord did not properly follow the rules when providing notice to the tenant. Notice periods cannot include weekend days, court holidays or the day the notice was given to the tenant. Additionally, the court could find in the tenant's favor if there's sufficient evidence that the landlord is seeking eviction in retaliation for things that tenant has done that don’t violate the lease.
In the Eviction Lab's list of top evicting cities in the U.S., Jacksonville is the highest Florida city on the list, ranking 34th, with an eviction rate of 5.34%.
As is the case in all other states, landlords in Florida are never permitted to physically remove a tenant or belongings from a rental property following eviction. The local sheriff's department must conduct the removal of evicted tenants and their belongings.
As Florida's population continues to rise and competition among renters grows along with it, knowledge of the legal system – and the rights and responsibilities on the part of both the renter and landlord – become even more important. As Popov notes, landlords eager to raise rent need to make sure there's not "excessive pressure put on the tenant" in order to try to find a wealthier renter.
Conversely, tenants should be diligent about following a lease agreement precisely. A landlord who knows there are eager renters on the market is less likely to forgive nonpayment of rent or a lease violation than one who knows the property will sit vacant.
Where in Florida is the best place for you?
If you’re a fan of warm weather, sandy beaches and plenty of sunny days, Florida probably sounds like a great place to live. But it’s a big state, complete with coastal cities, sprawling, landlocked towns and areas dotted with lakes and canals. That's why it takes some consideration to determine what part of Florida is best for you. Florida is also the third-most populous state in the country, and 11 places in the state fall under the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. We’ve compiled the details from the Best Places to Live in the U.S. rankings, which factor in desirability, affordability, access to quality health care and more, to help you decide which major metro area in the Sunshine State is right for you.Miami
Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 110
Metro Population: 5,926,955
Median Home Value: $244,600
Median Annual Salary: $46,160
The most populous metro area in Florida, Miami sits at the state's southern tip and is a major tourist destination for its year-round hot weather, vibrant culture and lively nightlife. The Magic City’s desirability is evident in its growth, as the Miami metro area grew by more than 4.4 percent between 2012 and 2016 due to net migration alone. However, residents spend more than 38 percent of the median household income on housing expenses, including mortgage payments, rent, property taxes and utilities. Only San Juan, Puerto Rico, is more expensive to live in for residents among the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S.Daytona Beach
Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 94
Metro Population: 613,723
Median Home Value: $164,069
Median Annual Salary: $38,010
Daytona Beach has a population about one-tenth the size of Miami, but that may not be the case for long. Between 2012 and 2016, Daytona Beach grew by nearly 9 percent solely from net migration. Many people who are attracted to this spot on the Atlantic coast are retirees, as the median age in the Daytona Beach metro area is over 47. But the biggest factor contributing to its rank at No. 94 on the Best Places to Live list is the cost of living. Daytona Beach residents spend 33.25 percent of the median household income on housing, compared to the average 28.72 percent among all the places on the Best Places to Live list.Port St. Lucie
Port St. Lucie
Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 79
Metro Population: 446,728
Median Home Value: $179,058
Median Annual Salary: $41,120
Port St. Lucie is growing slightly faster than Daytona Beach, seeing a 9.1 percent growth from 2012 to 2016 based on net migration. Of the 125 places on the Best Places to Live list, Port St. Lucie also ranks 20th in the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, which measures residents’ satisfaction with where they live, their physical health and the area’s economic stability. However, like many Florida metro areas, the cost of living is considered prohibitive for many residents. More than 34.4 percent of the median household income in Port St. Lucie is spent on housing costs, making it the eighth-most expensive place to live out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S.Orlando
Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 78
Metro Population: 2,328,508
Median Home Value: $213,717
Median Annual Salary: $43,060
Home of Disney World and Universal Studios, Orlando draws tourists year-round for its theme parks and warm weather, despite not being located on the coast. But it’s not just visitors coming to Orlando, as the metro area has grown by 9.14 percent between 2012 and 2016 due to net migration. Orlando offers no shortage of jobs, but the median annual salary, at $43,060, is still more than $6,000 below the national average of $49,630, which contributes to its relatively high cost of living.Tampa
Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 75
Metro Population: 2,927,714
Median Home Value: $183,592
Median Annual Salary: $45,510
Ranking No. 75 on the overall Best Places to Live list, Tampa is experiencing a similar population boom to most other places in Florida, having grown by 6.67 percent from 2012 to 2016 due to net migration. Located on Tampa Bay, which is connected to the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa draws many retirees to its shores and has a median age of 42. The Big Guava, as Tampa is known, is slightly more affordable than many other Florida metro areas, but residents still spend more than 32 percent of the median household income on housing.Lakeland
Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 71
Metro Population: 637,691
Median Home Value: $160,583
Median Annual Salary: $40,180
Just inland from Tampa is Lakeland, which isn’t coastal but is appropriately named for the lakes that dot the area. Lakeland ranks 19th – just above Port St. Lucie – of the 125 most populous metro areas on the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. Additionally, Lakeland has grown by about 7.75 percent between 2012 and 2016 due to net migration alone. Lakeland’s job market, however, appears to struggle to meet demand, with an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent.Pensacola
Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 53
Metro Population: 473,477
Median Home Value: $158,513
Median Annual Salary: $40,220
The only Florida panhandle metro area on the list, Pensacola sees less growth due to net migration than many other metro areas in Florida. But it’s the 28th-most desirable spot out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S., according to a Google Consumer Survey of 2,000 people throughout the country. And its location farther from Florida hot spots that draw the most tourists helps keep down the cost of living, with residents spending just 28.64 percent of the median household income on housing.Jacksonville
Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 44
Metro Population: 1,424,097
Median Home Value: $184,508
Median Annual Salary: $45,140
Located near Florida’s border with Georgia along the Atlantic coast, Jacksonville ranks No. 44 on the overall Best Places to Live list. Jacksonville ranks sixth out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for college readiness among high school students, based on information from the U.S. News Best High Schools rankings. With a population closing in on 1.5 million people, the Jacksonville area grew by just over 6 percent between 2012 and 2016 due to net migration.Fort Myers
Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 41
Metro Population: 680,970
Median Home Value: $210,133
Median Annual Salary: $40,420
While Fort Myers ranks No. 41 in the overall Best Places to Live list, it ranks No. 2 on the Best Places to Retire list. It’s no surprise that Fort Myers is a popular retirement destination, with its median resident age of 47.3 years. Fort Myers is also growing at a shocking rate – by 14.16 percent between 2012 and 2016 due to net migration – and it is the second-fastest growing metro area out of the 125 spots on the Best Places to Live list, after Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.Sarasota
Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 34
Metro Population: 751,422
Median Home Value: $224,613
Median Annual Salary: $41,870
Ranking No. 34 in Best Places to Live and No. 3 in Best Places to Retire, Sarasota has a median age of over 51. Retired or not, the area has plenty of new residents, as Sarasota grew by 12.42 percent between 2012 and 2016 due to net migration. Additionally, Sarasota ranks sixth out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. in the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. Living in Sarasota is pricey, however. Residents spend 31.72 percent of the median household income on housing costs.Melbourne
Best Places to Live 2018 Rank: 29
Metro Population: 560,683
Median Home Value: $163,042
Median Annual Salary: $46,520
Ranking No. 29 on the Best Places to Live list, Melbourne is the top metro area in Florida. Melbourne’s high school students rank second out of the 125 most populous metro areas for college readiness, with only San Jose, California, ranking higher. Like everywhere else in the Sunshine State, Melbourne is growing rapidly based on net migration, with a population growth of 7.19 percent between 2012 and 2016.Read More
She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.
Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.