A new law in Florida lets landlords put a provision into residential rental agreements that the fee for the tenant breaking the lease will be a flat amount equal to up to two months rent.
This provision must be inserted at lease-signing and even if the landlord offers this option the tenant may refuse it. If the tenant refuses the option and breaks the lease, the tenant will owe rent to the landlord based on how long it takes to re-rent the property. If the property is rented quickly the tenant’s expenses for breaking the lease could be less than two months rent, but, if the property remains vacant for longer than two months, the tenant would pay more than if he had agreed to the flat rate for breaking the lease.
The law is not retroactive to existing leases and landlords do not have to give tenants the option of the two months “liquidated damages” provision. Additionally, electing this provision does not insulate tenants from other terms of the lease such as charges they may owe the landlord for unpaid rent or for damage to the property.