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VOLUME 1 - ISSUE 1 LEGAL UPDATE
Landlords must now give notice to tenants in a specific fashion and in a specific time frame or will not be able to enforce notice provisions in lease.
PRIOR LAW: Prior to July 1, 2004, a landlord could require the tenant to give a specific amount of notice of vacating the premises. This had to be stated in the lease and could not exceed a requirement of 60 days' notice from the tenant. Most leases required a 30 day notice from the tenant, and failure to give such notice resulted in the tenant forfeiting their security deposit or having to pay an additional month's rent. The landlord was not required to notify the tenant in any way other than to state the notice requirements in the lease. Failure of the tenant to give notice would result in a forfeiture of money up to the amount of rent that the notice period required and/or the security deposit.
NEW LAW:Landlord can still require notice from the tenant of up to 60 days BUT MUST give tenant written notice of the tenant's notice obligation within 15 days of the beginning of the required notice period. This NEW notice from the landlord must contain information regarding the notice requirement, how the notice needs to be given, and the fees, penalties or other charges imposed upon the tenant if the tenant does not give the notice.
EXAMPLE: Lease requires tenant to give landlord 30 days' notice prior to lease end. Landlord NOW must inform tenant of this requirement by giving tenant written notice per FS 83.575 45 to 31 days prior to the beginning of the 30 day notice period. If the landlord fails to give this notice, and the tenant vacates without notice at the end of the lease, the landlord will not be permitted to charge tenant for failure to give notice. The new law does not specify HOW this notice must be given. We recommend giving the notice according to the terms of your lease, hand delivering the notice or posting on the tenant's door if your lease allows this type of delivery. If you are going to mail the notice, it is crucial that you ADD 5 BUSINESS DAYS for mailing, and avoid certified mail as often the certified mail is not picked up.
Place this in your Renewal Letter along with your other usual information.
"According to your lease, you are required to give us ______ days notice in writing if you are vacating the premise at the end of your lease term. Failure to give us this notice in writing will result in __________ Forfeiture of your security Deposit __________ You will owe us an additional _________ month rent."
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: A property manager should always be diligent in determining whether a tenant is staying or leaving at the end of the lease term. Most property managers send out their renewal letters 30 to 60 days prior to the end of the lease as a standard procedure and should continue to do so just as in the past. The only difference is that NOW, a letter needs to get to the tenant within that 15 day timeframe before your required notice period. It is important to create a tickler file, mark your calendar, create a reminder on your computer, etc., to make sure that you do not miss this 15 day "window".
83.575 AS AMENDED Termination of tenancy with specific duration.--
Landlord may not prohibit tenant from displaying United States Flag on premises
PRIOR LAW: Prior to July 1, 2004 a landlord could prohibit tenant by the lease terms from displaying or hanging a flag or any other item from or on the premises.
NEW LAW: A landlord may not prohibit a tenant from displaying a United States flag on the premises as long as it meets certain requirements.
SAMPLE LEASE WORDING: "Tenant may display a "United States Flag", commonly known as the "Stars and Stripes", as long as this flag is portable, removable, cloth or plastic with a size not larger than 4.5 feet by 6 feet and is displayed in a respectful manner. This flag may not infringe on any other tenant's area or space rented by another tenant, including but not limited to a downstairs tenant's lanai space if any. This flag, its pole or its base may not constitute a safety hazard to any person or property. In displaying the flag, tenant shall not destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises or property therein belonging to the landlord nor permit any person to do so".
FS 83.67 AS AMENDED
4) A landlord may not prohibit a tenant from displaying one portable, removable, cloth or plastic United States flag, not larger than 4 and one-half feet by 6 feet, in a respectful manner in or on the dwelling unit, regardless of any provision in the rental agreement dealing with flags or decorations. The United States flag shall be displayed in accordance with s. 83.52(6). The landlord is not liable for damages caused by a United States flag displayed by a tenant. Any United States flag may not infringe upon the space rented by any other tenant. (Back to Top)
A change in the Florida State Constitution approved by voters in 1998 will be fully implemented on July 1, 2004. As a result of this constitutional change, fees charged by all of the Clerks of Court in Florida will be increasing. The great news is that in most counties, the fees for filing an eviction action will be decreasing!
In almost every county, the filing fees for filing an eviction action will be $80.00. In some counties they were over $160.00!!
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: While the filing fee is now set at $80.00, already some county clerks are imposing other small fees such as fees to issue summonses etc. which will be their way of raising revenue. Always check with your attorney when stipulating with a tenant or accepting payment in full so you have the exact figure from your attorney. (Back to Top)