This is our only rental property. We have a tenant whose lease ends August 31st. It is an annual lease and requires 60 days notice by the tenant if they aren't going to renew. I reached out to them on July 3 (inside the 60 days) and asked if they wanted to renew the lease at the same terms. They indicated yes. Today I was contacted by someone looking for a reference for them as tenants. We are 34 days from renewal. I reached out to the tenant and asked what was going on and have not had a response.
The lease we used is Florida specific and actually contains sections of the state's landlord tenant act in it. There is also a liquidated damages section that states the tenant can be liable for a maximum of 2 months rent if they breach the lease. However, the state requires that I give notice : The statute requires the landlord provide notice to the tenant of the liquidated damages penalty, within 15 days before the notice period begins. And the landlord must list all fees, penalties and applicable charges in the notice, otherwise the landlord’s claim for liquidated
damages may be invalidated by the courts.
So it would appear that I did not hit that target. Do I have any recourse at all?
Look up your lease. Tell the current tenant that you need written notice and understand if they don't want to renew their lease; however, you need it in writing and by Aug 1 at the absolute latest. It could be they were just shopping around to see what was available.
I'd start advertizing it as soon as possible for Sept 1. Once you have the Aug rent, remind the tenant that it is in their best interest to be flexible for showings as they are on the hook for rent as they didn't give the required 2 months' notice.
I used to be a property manager in Florida, so I’m writing most of this from memory.
I think if you act now, you are still good.
I agree with @Theresa Harris , you need to have something in writing. Except, I would go ahead and let them know that you will not be renewing their lease in writing.
Going forward, 60 days prior to the expiration send them a letter letting them know that they have until 45 days prior to the lease expiration to respond in writing, including by email or online portal, that they intend to renew the lease. Some landlords will also include the new rental amount in this letter as well.
If you don’t receive a response in writing 35 days prior to the expiration of the lease, send the notice that you will not be renewing.
Going forward and in this particular instance, if your tenant says they want to release the property less than 30 days prior to the expiration of the lease, you’ve fulfilled your requirements as a landlord and you can do whatever you want. You can say no, you can say yes, or you can tell them that they have to reapply and pay another application fee if they want to stay.
If they do move out:
Currently, Florida laws says you have to give the tenant notice if you are going to take any of their security deposit for damages. “Damages” is a legal term and is not limited to physical damage to the property. You have 30 days after the lease expires to send them this notice. Include in the notice all of the damages line item by line item. If you are only keeping part of the security deposit, include the check with the remainder of the security deposit balance with this notice.
If you are not going to take any of the security deposit, the check for the entire balance of the security deposit must be sent and post marked no later than 15 days after the expiration of the lease.
Here is a great resource for Florida landlords. This is an attorney’s website that I used to use that explains the applicable law: