The Florida House could possibly approve today a change to the landlord-tenant law.
It would allow the landlord to charge a penalty of up to two months of rent as a "termination fee".
The present laws allow landlords to charge up to the "actual damages" if a tenant breaks his lease. The landlord can sue to collect the rent until he finds a new tenant.
Some legislators consider the new bill as "consumer-friendly" because it will give to tenant a guaranteed maximum penalty. Renters would have the option to accept or reject the two-month maximum penalty at the time of signing their contract.
The bill is likely to be approved in both chambers. Governor Crist has vetoed a similar proposal last year, but would possibly reconsider the veto since "a new language offers more protection to the renter", since the renter could choose whether or not to accept the early-termination fee at the time of the contract execution.
Some renters could benefit from the two-month penalty. If they are in a low-occupancy rental community, the landlord could continue to charge rent for a long time until he finds a new tenant.
In essence, when signing the lease, the tenant would have to decide in which direction he wants to go.
Henry B. Nathan is a Florida Realtor at United Realty Group Inc.
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