If you find that your rental property in Florida has been abandoned, there are statutes that determine how the landlord can remedy the abandonment and what needs to be done with personal property left behind.

Abandonment Defined

If your tenant anticipates an extended absence of more than seven consecutive days they are required to notify you of their absence. This is a practical requirement that is written into a lease agreement so that the landlord can determine if a tenant is just away on vacation or has abandoned the property. Florida Statute § 83.595 states that in the absence of actual knowledge of abandonment the landlord can presume that the tenant has abandoned the dwelling unit if the tenant is absent from the premises for at least 15 consecutive days . It’s important to note that this presumption does not apply if the rent is current or if the tenant has notified the landlord, in writing, of an extended absence.

What Can The Landlord Do?

In the case of a bonafide abandonment landlords in Florida have four options for remedying an abandonment, and all of these options are outlined in Florida Statute § 83.595.

  • Walk away: Consider the lease agreement terminated, retake possession, and terminate any further liability of tenant. With this option the landlord does not pursue additional monetary compensation from the tenant.
  • Find another tenant but hold old tenant liable: Retake possession of the premises for the account of the tenant, thereby holding tenant liable for the difference between the rent stipulated to be paid under the lease agreement and what landlord is able to recover from a reletting. If the landlord retakes possession, he has a duty to exercise good faith in attempting to relet the premises, and any rent received by the landlord as a result of the reletting must be deducted from the balance of rent due from tenant.
  • Do nothing and hold tenant liable: With this option the landlord continues to hold the tenant liable for rent as it comes due.
  • Charge tenant an early termination fee. In this case the landlord would charge the tenant liquidated damages or an early termination fee, as long as this was agreed to by the landlord and tenant in the lease at the outset of the tenancy.

Regardless of the option chosen, Florida Statute § 83.675 allows the landlord and tenant to stipulate in the rental agreement that the landlord is not responsible for the storage or disposition of any personal property left behind by the tenant. This very important point is written in LeaseRunner’s Florida Residential Lease and is highlighted in bold and underlined, as required by Florida law.