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Web Articles
       Requirements for Valid and Enforceable
                             Leases in Florida

Within Florida, there are basic requirements which all leasing
agreements, both residential or commercial and oral or written,
must satisfy to be valid.

An oral lease is enforceable in Florida provided the term of such
lease is less than one year.  The term of a lease is the period of
time the tenant will occupy the leased premises pursuant to
such lease.  An oral lease for more than one year is voidable in
Florida and suffers from the difficulty of proving each parties’
agreed upon rights, duties, and obligations.

Therefore to be fully enforceable in Florida, a leasing
agreement for more than one year must be in writing and it must
be signed by both parties in the presence of two subscribing
witnesses.  A lease does not need to be notarized to be valid.  
But all documents to be recorded in the Public Records must be
notarized so if a lease is to be recorded then it must be
notarized.

All leasing agreements must show an intent on the part of the
landlord to convey to the tenant the present right to possess
and occupy the leased premises.  This intent should be
specifically stated in written leases, but it may also be evidenced
by the actions of the landlord such as providing the tenant with
a means of access to the leased premises by giving them the
keys or necessary access codes, the landlord being aware that
the tenant was occupying the leased premises and the landlord
not taking any actions to remove the tenant, or the landlord
accepting rent from the tenant.  

An intent on the part of the tenant to occupy the leased
premises must also be shown in all leasing agreements.  This
intent should be specifically stated in written leases but it can
also be evidenced by actions of the tenant such as actually
occupying the leased premises, moving personal property into
the leased premises, or paying rent to the landlord.

A written lease must include the name of the landlord.  A written
lease must include an address for the landlord to which the
rental payments and notices should be provided.  The name of
the tenant must be included in a written lease as well.

All leasing agreements must define the leased premises that the
tenant will be permitted to occupy.  This may be difficult with an
oral lease and problems of proof are likely to arise should the
terms of the oral lease ever be disputed.  With a written lease, it
is best practice to incorporate a legal description or a detailed
sketch of the leased premises into the lease to remove any
ambiguities as to what property the tenant is permitted to
occupy.

The leasing agreement must include the rental amount that the
tenant must pay for the right to occupy the leased premises.  
Rent can be a specified amount or it can be a formula such as a
price per square foot or a percentage of revenue generated by
the tenant within the leased premises, if the lease is a
commercial lease.  The rental provision must also state how
frequently the rent is to be paid by the tenant.

The leasing agreement should include a provision which
describes the term of the lease.  The term can be described as
a specific period of time, such as one year from the date the
lease commences, or the term can be described as ending on a
specific date.  However, if a leasing agreement does not include
a specific term, then the term will be presumed to be for a
period of time defined by how frequently the rent must be paid.  
For example, in a lease agreement that does not have a
specified term, if the rent is paid monthly then the term is for
one month and the term can be renewed month-to-month so
long as the tenant continues to pay rent and abide by the other
provisions of the lease and so long as the landlord does not
terminate the lease.

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Craig W. Little, P.A.