Florida Now Allows Liquidated Damages for Breaking Your Lease
Posted by Benjamin Dona on Wednesday, June 18th, 2008 at 8:56am.
Under a new law signed by Governor Crist, landlords can now charge liquidated damages or an early termination fee if you break your lease. However, the new law also provides limits and rules that must be followed before a tenant may be charged.
For instance, the early termination fee cannot exceed two months' rent, and the landlord cannot require the tenant to give more than 60 days notice. The law became effective Monday and only applies to new or renewal leases. The primary requirement is prior tenant agreement to pay the fees being part of the lease contract and, to collect an early termination fee; a landlord must present the tenant with a separate addendum that offers two choices. The tenant either agrees to pay the fee should he choose to move before the end of the lease period, or acknowledges that the landlord could still seek damages as provided by law.
Anyone signing a new lease will now have to consider the cost of breaking it. A tenant who doesn't want unpleasant surprises should look for apartment complexes that charge a flat amount or that has a lower fee than the law allows. Renters should shop around for the lowest penalty just like they compare rental rates. A tenant who thinks the flat amount is too high can also always take their chances on the landlord being able to quickly re-rent the apartment. That strategy would work best in popular apartment complexes with high occupancy rates. And, since the law does not require landlords to give tenants the option of a flat amount for lease-breaking, you may find that some may decide it's better to require tenants to pay based on the time it takes to find a new renter. The bottom line is it now just became even more important for you to know what you're getting into when you sign a lease. Reading the contract thoroughly and being prepared ahead of time will surely save you a lot of potential headaches in the long run.
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