Despite a tenant’s best intentions to stay for the entire lease term, there are reasons why they may choose to leave early and terminate their leases. They may, for instance, be looking to move closer to loved ones, or perhaps they may need to move due to a new job opportunity.

Whatever the reason may be, though, leaving before the expiry of a fixed-term lease is called breaking a lease. As a landlord, you’d be within your right to penalize the tenant for doing so, especially if they leave without paying the remainder of the rent due under the Florida lease.

However, there are situations where a tenant legally breaks their lease without needing to pay the remaining due rent or other penalties. To learn more about breaking a lease in Florida, keep on reading.

Rights & Responsibilities a Tenant has when Signing a Lease

A tenant obtains certain rights and responsibilities under Florida’s landlord-tenant law. The state’s landlord-tenant law gives tenants the following rights in regards to the rental lease. The right to:

  • Due process before they can be evicted
  • Live in a safe and habitable dwelling
  • Live in peace and quiet

A tenant’s main responsibility is to pay rent for the entire term of the lease or rental agreement, usually a year. There are exceptions, should the renter have a legally justified reason for breaking the lease early.

Florida lease agreement for a rental unit

Legally Justified Reasons for Breaking a Lease Early Under Florida Law

There are several reasons a tenant can legally break a lease. As a Florida landlord, you need to be aware of the following:

The Tenant is Starting an Active Military Duty

Florida tenants entering active military service have a right under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to break the lease under federal law. The renter must be part of the “uniformed services,” which includes:

  • The Activated National Guard
  • Armed forces
  • Commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Commissioned corps of the Public Health Service

To break a lease in accordance with the act, the tenant starting active military service is required to provide the landlord with:

  • A written notice of their intent to terminate their lease for military reasons
  • Proof that they intend to remain on active duty for more than 90 days
  • A copy of the deployment orders or permanent change of station from their commanding officer

Once the renter has met such requirements, the earliest the lease can be terminated is 30 days after the next rent period starts.

You have Not Maintained the Unit to Habitable Standards

Florida requires rental units to meet specific health and safety codes. If landlords aren’t able to meet those standards, this can provide a renter with legal grounds to break their Florida lease agreement early and move out.

how to break a lease in Florida

As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to make necessary repairs in a timely manner. And even more specifically, Florida landlords are required to make repairs within 7 days once notified by their tenant.

Besides moving out, a Florida tenant may also be able to pursue other alternative remedies including:

  • Reporting a landlord to a relevant government agency
  • Withholding rent until the landlord has made those repairs
  • Repairing the damage themselves and then deducting the costs from next month’s rent

Note, however, that for a tenant to exercise any of these rights, the problem must be truly serious, such as lack of an essential service like heat.

The Landlord is Found Guilty of Harassing Their Tenant

Landlord harassment is when a landlord creates conditions that are meant to make a tenant’s life uncomfortable. The following are examples of actions that constitute landlord harassment:

  • Verbal or physical threats to a tenant
  • Sexual harassment
  • Cutting off previously available amenities to a tenant
  • Removing the tenant’s personal belongings from the unit
  • Not providing proper notice
  • Illegally entering the tenant’s unit
  • Refusing to accept a rent payment
  • Making false charges to evict the tenant
  • Creating unnecessary disruptions or nuisances to force the tenant out

All these actions are against the law in the state of Florida. If a court finds them serious enough, the tenant may have grounds to break the lease. Tenant could also sue their landlords for damages arising from the harassment.

how to get out of a lease in Florida

The Landlord is Found Guilty of Violating Their Tenant’s Privacy

In Florida, not only must a landlord provide 12 hours' notice before entry, but the reason must be legitimate as well. Justified reasons for landlord entry under Florida law include:

  • Under court orders
  • To carry out an inspection
  • To show the unit to prospective lenders, buyers, and tenants
  • If the landlord has reasons to believe their tenant has abandoned the premises
  • In case of an emergency
  • To make needed or requested repairs

There are exceptions to the 12 hours’ prior notice, however. They are as follows:

  • If otherwise agreed upon
  • In case of an emergency
  • In case of property abandonment

You Fail to Abide by the Terms of the Lease Agreement

Just like a tenant, landlords have a responsibility to abide by the Florida lease terms. If the landlord doesn't, that may be enough justification for their tenant to break the lease.

The following are some of the obligations a landlord has to their tenant:

  • Make repairs within a reasonable period of time after being notified
  • Treat tenants fairly and with respect per the Fair Housing Laws
  • Ensure their tenant's right quiet enjoyment is being respected
  • Serve tenants a 12-hour notice prior to entering their rented units
  • Follow the proper eviction process as set out in Florida laws

an early termination clause to break a lease in Florida

Landlord’s Duty to Find a New Tenant

Unlike some other states, landlords in the state don’t have a duty to “mitigate damages” or re-rent their units after a tenant breaks their lease early. This means that, as the landlord, you may be able to hold your tenant liable for their rent obligation under the lease.


There you have it, some of the legally justifiable reasons for a tenant to break their lease. As a landlord you should also stay informed on various rental laws including security deposit laws, rent increase policies and squatters right.

If you would like help managing your rental properties contact the experts at Sun-Pro Realty & Management today!

Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice. If you need expert legal help, please get in touch with a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company.