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    Breaking a lease in Florida isn’t as easy as it used to be

    A friend of mine pulled me aside last week when I dropped my kids off to Sunday school. This friend of mine had a college-aged son who was renting an apartment and was quite unhappy with the complex and his roommate situation. She asked, “How can we get out of our lease?”

    I responded appropriately “I don’t know I haven’t seen your lease.” But I was pretty sure there wasn’t a good option. That’s because a few years ago the apartment industry wanted a law allowing complexes to charge lease cancellation fees. But when you work with the Florida legislature you have to be careful what you wish for.

    What they got was a statue that allows a landlord to charge a cancellation fee up to two months rent if the fee is disclosed in the lease and agreed upon by the renter in writing. See Florida Statute 83.595 for full details.

    The problem is that two months rent provides no incentive for a landlord to want to cancel a lease. So the end product is both the landlord and the consumer no longer have a viable, preset way to cancel a lease agreement.

    So for my friend who was also a guarantor on the lease her options were to attempt to sublet (There was a provision in the lease allowing to sublet with the landlord’s approval and an administrative fee), attempt to negotiate a buyout with the property manager, carry out the term of the lease, or hire an attorney with no real case.

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