Commercial Lease.jpgOn Friday, June 7, 2013, Governor Scott signed HB 77 into law. Below is a brief description of the major changes to Part II of Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes, otherwise known as Florida’s Landlord and Tenant Law, which become effective July 1, 2013:

  1. 83.48 – The right of the prevailing party to recover attorney fees (set out in Section 83.48) may not be waived in a lease agreement. Also, attorney fees may not be awarded under Section 83.48 in a claim for personal injury damages based on a breach of duty by landlord to maintain the premises.
  2. 83.49(2) – This Section deals with required notices by the landlord to tenants regarding the disposition of advanced rent payments and/or security deposits. The provision is not applicable to any landlord who rents fewer than five (5) individual dwelling units. The changes include specific boiler-plate language that must be included in the applicable leases and further clarifies the written notice(s) that the landlord must provide to its tenants. Another significant change is that the law creates a rebuttable presumption that any new owner/landlord has received the security deposit(s) from the previous owner/landlord; however, this presumption is limited to one month’s rent. Note: The legislature included a caveat for landlords with pre-printed lease forms – changes to the to the boiler-plate language regarding required disclosures must be incorporated in all leases entered into on or after January 1, 2014; this allows landlords to continue using their pre-printed forms for the remainder of 2013.
  3. 83.51(1)(b) – At the commencement of each tenancy, the landlord must ensure that all screens are in reasonable condition. In addition, the landlord is now required to repair damage to any screens at least once annually.
  4. 83.56(2)(b) – Where the landlord has previously provided a notice to a tenant for noncompliance under the terms of a lease agreement, should such noncompliance recur within twelve (12) months after such notice, the landlord is now permitted to commence an eviction action without delivering a subsequent notice.
  5. 83.56(5)(a) – The changes to this provision clarify that a landlord may accept partial rent from a tenant without waiving the right to terminate the rental agreement or to bring a civil action based on the nonpayment of rent, provided that the landlord follows the new procedures outlined therein.
  6. 83.575(1) – This convoluted change limits the applicability of a lease provision requiring the tenant to provide the landlord a written notice that he/she intends to vacate the premises at the end of the rental agreement.
  7. 83.62(1) – Where a landlord has successfully obtained a judgment of eviction, the clerk is required to issue a writ to the sheriff in order to put the landlord in possession within 24 hours of notice being conspicuously posted on the premises. With the new modifications, Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays do not stay (delay) this 24 hour notice period.
  8. 83.64(1) – Landlords are prohibited from retaliatory conduct (revenge) against a tenant for specified actions; this provision has been expanded to include the prohibition for retaliatory conduct of a landlord against a tenant for (i) the tenant paying all rents, that were originally due to the landlord, to a condominium association, cooperative or homeowner’s association after demand from the association of such rents (this is common where the landlord has failed to make payments such as assessments to the respective associations, such associations are now permitted to demand any rent payments from tenants of non-performing owners), and (ii) if the tenant has exercised any of his or her rights under local, state or federal fair housing laws.

Practice Pointer

As mentioned earlier, the changes described above, and other minor changes that were not discussed, become effective on July 1, 2013. To view the entire Chapter, click here. Landlords who have stocks of pre-printed lease forms may continue to use those forms through December 31, 2013 so long as such forms comply with Florida’s Landlord and Tenant Law prior to these most recent changes. Landlords would be wise to have their legal counsel review their lease forms and provide them with more detailed explanations of these newest changes to Florida law.