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Can residential leases run longer than one year?

Posted by Editor on January 12, 2019
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At least a few times each day, members call the Legal Hotline to ask if a landlord and tenant can enter a residential lease that lasts longer than one year. The short answer is that a landlord and tenant are welcome to sign a lease for a term longer than a year.

However, they will need to do a little work without your assistance to make it happen.

Until 1992, there were no lease forms approved for use by Realtors. But that changed when the Florida Bar issued the advisory opinion The Florida Bar Re: Advisory Opinion Nonlawyer Preparation of Residential Lease Up to One Year in Duration, 602 So. 2d 914 (Fla 1992). Please note that the approval was limited to residential leases, so we’re currently unable to provide any commercial lease forms for our members.

There are currently two lease forms available: Residential Lease for Apartment or Unit in Multi-Family Rental Housing other than a Duplex, and a Residential Lease for Single Family Home and Duplex. Both leases include the following clause regarding renewals or extensions: “The Lease can be renewed or extended only by a written agreement signed by both Landlord and Tenant, but in no event may the total Lease Term exceed one year. A new lease is required for each year.”

If you pay extra close attention, you may notice that the language in the multifamily lease clause is slightly different than the language in the single family lease, but this is just a weird quirk specific to these forms since the message is the same. The lease shouldn’t exceed a year, and a new lease should be prepared each year.

What if a landlord and tenant don’t like this limitation and want a longer lease?

One option is to have a lawyer draw up a lease with a term longer than a year. This could be a wise investment, since a lease greater than a year triggers the need for additional formalities due to the Florida Statute of Frauds.

Another option is for the landlord or tenant to conduct their own search to find a different form that doesn’t contain the one-year limitation.

Joel Maxson is Director of Member Legal Services

© 2018 Florida Realtors®

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