Florida law does not require lease agreements to be in writing, but lack of a written agreement could lead to a number of misinterpretations should a problem with the unwritten agreement arise. There are several laws or civil statutes that dictate the manner in which verbal rental agreements are to be handled in the event of a problem pertaining to the collection or payment of rent, eviction, and holdover tenancies.
Duration of Tenancy
According to Florida Statute Section 83.01, the duration of an unwritten lease tenancy "at will" is determined based upon the terms in which rent is paid. An "at will" tenancy is defined as a tenancy in which there is a verbal agreement regarding a rental property between both the landlord and the tenant. The timing of rent payments determine the duration of the tenancy; if rent is paid monthly then the tenancy is considered a monthly duration, if the rent is paid weekly then the tenancy is considered a weekly duration, and if the rent is paid quarterly then the tenancy is a quarterly duration. Tenancy at will, with the lack of a written agreement, does not prevent the tenant from being accountable for paying rent on time, and it does not prevent the landlord from being required to adhere to proper rent collection practices.
Termination of Tenancy
As with a written rental agreement, a notice of termination of tenancy is required prior to the termination of any verbal rental agreement. The exact amount of time required to give notice of termination of the agreement differs based on the duration of the tenancy. According to Florida Statute Section 83.57, either party must provide written notice of the intent to terminate the tenancy not less than seven days and not more than 60 days prior to the end of a rental period.
Florida Statute Section 83.56 (3) dictates the procedures that a landlord must follow when evicting a tenant for failure to pay rent on time. Rent that is not paid when due and that remains unpaid for three days, not including Saturday, Sunday or legal holidays, is legal grounds for the landlord to evict the tenant. The landlord must provide the tenant with written notice to pay rent or forfeit interest in the rental property. For the purpose of evictions, rent is due and payable based on the tenancy duration as outlined by Florida Statute 83.01.
Both landlords and tenants have limited remedies when there is no written lease agreement. The remedies are based solely on the recourse outlined in Florida State Statutes based on the foundations of the duration of tenancy. The lack of a written contract between landlord and tenant in no way eliminates responsibility or accountability from either party to adhere to the terms of the agreement that they have made between one another, but it can make challenging the terms difficult in court.
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