What Happens When a Tenant Breaks the Lease Before Moving In: Florida

There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you’re renting a property. But one of the worst things that can happen is if the tenant breaks the lease before they even move in. This can cause all sorts of problems for the landlord, and it can end up costing them a lot of money. In this article, we will discuss what happens when a tenant breaks the lease before moving in. We will also provide some tips for landlords on how to avoid this situation.

If the tenants haven’t moved in, are they technically tenants?

As soon as the lease is signed and the applicants give a deposit, they become tenants. The agreement is binding, and the tenants are responsible for the property as soon as they sign the lease. If the tenants decide to back out of the lease, they are breaking the contract. The same applies to the landlord.

What are the consequences of breaking the lease?

If tenants break the lease, they may be liable for the rent for the entire term of the lease or until the landlord rerents the property. This depends on what’s written in the lease.

What should the landlord do if the tenants notify her that they are not moving in?

First, the landlord should request in writing a statement that the tenants are vacating the property and the date the property will be vacant. Here is a template of an agreement to vacate.

If the tenants refuse to provide the statement, the landlord should let them know that without it, they will remain responsible for the lease payments.

Only after a written confirmation from the tenants, the landlord can rerent the property. The landlord can deduct from the deposit any damages, in this case, missed rent.

Is there a way to avoid this situation?

The best way to avoid this situation is to screen tenants carefully. This includes doing a credit check and criminal background check.

Except for people relocating, don’t take a chance on someone who hasn’t seen the house in person.

You can also require a larger deposit, first and last month’s rent so you have more financial security if the tenant does break the lease. Florida doesn’t have a limit on the security deposit and advance rent.

In the application acceptance letter, include a language that specifies when the lease should be signed and when security deposits and advance rent must be paid. This eliminates situations when you have to wait on the applicant to sign the lease and pay the required amounts. The same language should be included in the Rental Application.

Here is an example of the language that can be included in your application or approval letter.

If the applicant is approved, the applicant has 3 days to enter into a lease and deliver Security/Damage Deposit. This application in no way implies that a particular unit shall be available and in no way obligates the Landlord or Management to deliver possession of the proposed premises.

Finally, be sure to have a well-written lease that clearly outlines the consequences of breaking the lease. By taking these precautions, you can minimize the chances of having to deal with tenants breaking their lease before moving in.

About the author

Jana Christo is a business owner, real estate investor, and property manager. She has 16 years of experience in most areas of real estate.
During the last recession, she was also the managing partner for a company that bought and rehabbed properties from the court foreclosure auctions. Today, she manages her own portfolio of rental properties and shares her experience on Rentce.com.