Whether you’re unsure of your future plans – maybe you will get that job in another city – or you just like to keep your options open, a month-to-month lease offers benefits for some people. But these leases come with some drawbacks as well, particularly if you’re the type of person who prefers to know for sure where you’ll be waking up at the start of next month.
State laws govern issues of rent and leases in most cases, and Florida rental laws for month-to-month leases are on par with those in many other states. If your legal relationship with your landlord is month to month, you could find yourself packing up without much warning.
Can a Landlord Terminate a Month-to-Month Lease?
Florida landlords don’t need cause to ask you to move along, although the process can be expedited if you’ve broken the terms of your lease. Otherwise, your landlord is stuck with letting you remain in your residence until your lease expires. The major difference between a month-to-month lease and a yearly lease is how much of a heads-up your landlord must give you when your lease is expiring and he’s decided that you should vacate the premises.
Your landlord is only required to give you a 15-day notice to vacate in Florida if you’re renting month to month, as opposed to 60 days’ notice before a yearly lease expires. He must give you notice in writing. Technically, he’s supposed to deliver the notice to you personally, but there’s a loophole here in Florida law. He can simply post the notice on your door if you’re not home at the time he delivers it.
How Much Notice Do You Have to Give on a Month-to-Month Lease?
The 15-day provision for a month-to-month lease in Florida landlord/tenant law works both ways. You must also give your landlord at least 15 days’ notice if you want to break a month-to-month lease. But your lease agreement might include an additional provision for exactly when you must give this 15-day notice, so read it over carefully to be sure.
An exception to this rule exists if you don’t have a written lease agreement or if your lease is open-ended, meaning it doesn’t mention a termination date. In this case, Florida tenants don’t have to give any notice at all before they vacate.
Different Rules for Special Circumstances
Although Florida landlords don’t need a reason to end their relationships with tenants, the situation changes if a landlord's reason isn’t legal. This might be the case if she’s retaliating because you complained about unsafe living conditions, or her reason might be discriminatory. Maybe you’re about to have a baby and the landlord doesn’t want children on her property.
Speak to legal aid or an attorney if you have reason to suspect that your landlord’s reason for terminating your lease arrangement might be illegal.
When You’ve Violated Your Lease Terms
The situation also changes if you’ve violated your lease terms. Under these circumstances, your landlord might be entitled to give you less than 15 days’ notice, particularly if you’ve done something egregious like dealing drugs from the premises.
In this case, you might only receive seven days’ notice, and this shrinks to just three days if you don’t pay rent, although you do have a right to “cure” the problem by paying any past-due rent in full when you receive notice. You also have a right to cure minor lease violations such as taking in a puppy when your lease clearly prohibits pets. You can simply correct the situation, but you won’t get a second chance if you break your lease terms again.
The Florida Eviction Process
Your Florida landlord can file eviction proceedings against you if you don't vacate after properly receiving notice. You can go to court and try to fight it, but you wouldn’t have much of a legal defense with a month-to-month lease that only guarantees you a residence for 30 days to begin with. Again, an exception can exist if you can prove that your landlord is acting for retaliatory or discriminatory reasons.
Nonetheless, an eviction proceeding might buy you a bit more time to relocate. You can remain in your residence until the matter has been heard in court and the judge renders a decision. The downside to an eviction process is that you could be ordered to pay your landlord’s legal fees if you lose in court.
- NOLO: Florida Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy
- NOLO: The Eviction Process in Florida: Rules for Landlords and Property Managers
- Online Sunshine: The 2018 Florida Statutes
- The Florida Bar: Consumer Pamphlet: Rights and Duties of Tenants and Landlords
- 954 Eviction Attorneys: Florida Month to Month Lease
- Florida Law Help: Evictions: What Every Tenant Should Know
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally for over 30 years. She is also a paralegal, specializing in areas of personal finance, bankruptcy and estate law. She writes as the tax expert for The Balance.