Breaking a lease in Florida is a decision that should not be taken lightly. It could be because of personal circumstances, such as a job relocation, or more distressing situations like unsuitable living conditions. But regardless, understanding the legal framework and potential consequences is crucial.

Legal Grounds for Breaking a Lease in Florida

Justified Reasons to Break a Lease

  • Active Military Service: Florida law accommodates those in military service under the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). This act allows service members who receive permanent change of station orders, or who are deployed for a period of not less than 90 days, to terminate their rental agreements without penalty, provided they deliver written notice to their landlords along with a copy of the deployment orders.
  • Unsafe or Uninhabitable Conditions: Tenants have the right to a safe and habitable living environment as mandated by Florida health and safety codes. If a rental unit fails to meet these standards — for example, due to severe issues like toxic mold, broken heating or cooling systems during extreme weather conditions, or significant water leaks — tenants may have the right to break their lease without facing penalties, following adequate notice and failure of the landlord to remedy the problem.
  • Landlord Harassment: Tenants are entitled to privacy and peaceful enjoyment of their premises. If a landlord unlawfully invades a tenant’s privacy or engages in harassment — such as entering an apartment without proper notice or repeatedly harassing a tenant to an extent that it disrupts their peace and quiet — the tenant may be justified in terminating their lease early.

Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease

Many tenants mistakenly believe that personal dissatisfaction or changes in life circumstances (such as deciding to buy a house or moving in with a partner) automatically allow for lease-breaking without penalties. However, unless these conditions are explicitly stipulated in the early termination clause of the lease agreement, those reasons don’t legally justify breaking a lease in Florida without incurring financial liabilities.

Due to our current caseload, our office simply does not the have the resources
needed to dedicate to any additional tenant legal matters.
Any tenant-specific legal matters should be referred to the following organization:
Lawyer Referral Service Online (available 24/7) —
or Phone (800) 342-8011 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Understanding Lease Agreements

Early Termination Clauses: Many lease agreements in Florida include an early termination clause, which outlines conditions under which tenants may legally end their lease early without significant penalties. These clauses typically require a notice period (often 60 days) and may require the tenant to pay a termination fee, which could range from one to two months’ rent. It’s vital for tenants to read and understand these clauses before signing a lease, as they dictate the specific steps and financial obligations involved in legally terminating the lease early.

Tenant Rights and Responsibilities: When signing a lease, tenants are agreeing to certain obligations, such as paying rent for the full lease term and maintaining the property in good condition. Florida law also provides tenants with specific rights, such as the right to a habitable environment and the right to be notified before the landlord enters the property.

Procedures for Breaking a Lease

Notice Requirements: Florida law requires tenants who wish to break their lease to provide written notice to their landlords. The notice must clearly state the reason for termination and the intended move-out date. This notice should ideally be delivered in a manner that can be verified later, such as via certified mail or hand delivery with a witness present.

Delivering a Lease Notice: The notice should include all relevant details such as the effective date of lease termination and the reason for breaking the lease. If breaking the lease due to uninhabitable conditions, tenants should include evidence such as photographs, previous complaints, and communication with the landlord regarding the issue. This documentation can be essential if the landlord challenges the lease termination or if there are disputes over security deposits or damages.

Minimizing Financial Liability

When breaking a lease, the financial implications can be significant. However, there are several strategies that tenants can use to minimize these costs:

Landlord’s Duty to Mitigate Damages: Under Florida law, landlords are required to make a reasonable effort to re-rent the unit rather than charge the tenant for the total remaining rent due under the lease. This duty to mitigate damages means that if the unit is re-rented, the former tenant is only responsible for the rent amount due until the new tenant begins paying rent. It’s important for tenants to understand that while this can reduce their financial burden, they may still be liable for any reasonable costs the landlord incurs in re-renting the property, such as advertising.

Strategies to Minimize Financial Responsibility: Tenants can proactively approach their landlords to negotiate an early termination agreement, which might include a lower termination fee than stipulated by the lease. At the end of the day, it’s up to them, and it doesn’t hurt to at least ask.

Another strategy is to find a replacement tenant to take over the lease, commonly referred to as subletting or lease assignment, subject to the landlord’s approval. This approach not only helps in fulfilling the lease obligations but also assists the landlord by providing a ready replacement without incurring additional advertising costs or vacancies.

Legal Support and Advice

When to Seek Legal Advice: There are instances when consulting with a legal professional is advisable, particularly if the tenant’s rights are being violated or if the lease termination involves complex legal issues. Legal advice can be crucial in situations involving disputed terms of the lease, significant property damage, or conflicts over the return of a security deposit.

Landlord-Tenant Law Resources: For more detailed information and support, tenants can access resources from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services or consult legal aid organizations dedicated to housing issues. There are also resources and referrals for lawyers specializing in landlord-tenant law.

Due to our current caseload, our office simply does not the have the resources
needed to dedicate to any additional tenant legal matters.
Any tenant-specific legal matters should be referred to the following organization:
Lawyer Referral Service Online (available 24/7) —
or Phone (800) 342-8011 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.


Breaking a lease in Florida involves understanding the complexities of legal rights and responsibilities. By being informed about the justified reasons for lease termination, adhering to the correct procedures for notice and documentation, and actively managing the financial implications, tenants can find their way around this process. Some elbow grease and patience helps too! Regardless of which route you take, running your situation by a legal professional can help along the way.