What is Tenancy at Will in Florida? Rights, Termination & More

What is tenancy at will?

There are many types of tenancy agreements a landlord may make with a renter for the use of the landlord’s property. One such agreement is the tenancy at will, which a renter may establish with or without a written lease.

What is Tenancy At Will in Florida Real Estate? Our Definition

Tenancy at will definition: The tenancy at will is a lease typically without a written agreement and no fixed term where the landlord collects rent from the tenant at divisible periods, such as weekly, monthly, or quarterly. The landlord or tenant can terminate the lease at any time with proper written notice.

Although the requirements vary by state, Florida law allows a tenancy at will and provides statutory protections for both tenants and landlords.

So, What is an Estate At Will?

Some jurisdictions refer to a tenancy at will as an estate at will. But in Florida, an estate at will in real estate is exactly the same thing. So if you want an estate at will definition, simply re-read the above definition of tenancy at will!

What is a Tenancy At Will Agreement Needed For?

Under Florida law, a person who pays rent to live in a house, apartment, condo, or mobile home is a tenant. The period of time doesn’t matter, and a written lease is not necessary.

Nonetheless, tenancy at will agreements are needed to establish the relationship between landlord and tenant. The lease may be an oral agreement or in writing, but a written agreement is easier to enforce.

In the event that a landlord dies, the agreement may become property of the probate estate. In that case, the executor of the estate would need to obtain letters of administration for the estate in order to manage the rental agreement.

Florida Tenancy At Will Examples

There are several common at will tenancies or estate at will examples. Usually, there is no written agreement and the property owner is someone known to the renter or a family member.

For instance, you have an oral agreement with landlord Linda, your neighbor. She agreed that as long as you pay rent due the 1st of every month, you could continue renting the property indefinitely.

Or imagine that your uncle owns a condo in southern Florida. He had you sign a lease, but the lease term had no end date. You both agreed that you could pay rent in weekly installments, due every Friday.

Finally, imagine you leased an apartment in Orlando for one year. Once the lease ended, you didn’t leave. Instead, you continued to pay rent as normal. The landlord accepted, so you stayed another six months without signing a new lease.

How Does Somebody Become an At Will Tenant?

In each of the examples above, there was a specific method by which the tenant occupied the rental property and created a tenancy at will agreement. A renter becomes a tenant at will in one of the following ways:

  • You are renting without lease or rental agreement or have an oral agreement. In this example, you have some sort of agreement where the landlord accepts your payment of rent on a periodic basis. So long as you continue paying rent and the landlord continues accepting payment, you have a lease.
  • You have a written lease but it doesn’t define the rental period. Here, your landlord may have given you a lease contract that spelled out specific rights and duties. However, it omitted details about the time frame during which you would be the tenant.
  • You have a written lease for a periodic tenancy. Now, imagine that the lease specifies a month-to-month lease period. This is a month tenancy.
  • You’re a holdover tenant. This means your original lease has expired and you were supposed to vacate the property. However, you continued paying your rent when due and the landlord continued to accept the payment. This may also occur where the landlord sent a valid notice to terminate the lease, but allowed you to stay by accepting continued payments.

No matter which type of tenant at will agreement you may have, state law is clear on how a tenancy at will is to be terminated.

Tenancy At Will Termination

With a tenancy at will, either party can terminate the tenancy without notice. This means that either the renter or landlord can end the lease just by telling the other party they intend to do so.

The notice issued must be in writing and delivered personally to the other party by hand, by mail, or by posting in a public place. This notice may be formal or informal, and you may need the help of a property attorney.

This can be more complicated when the landlord dies and the property ownership goes into an estate. In that case, it may be helpful to contact Florida probate attorneys who can also assist with the cost of probate in Florida.

Terminating a Year-to-Year Lease

Although uncommon, a tenancy at will may be year-to-year. A yearly lease must be in writing to be enforced under state law, but notice of intent to terminate must be given at least 60 days before the end of the annual period.

Terminating a Quarterly Lease

For the quarterly lease, you pay rent four times per year. To terminate, there must be a 30-day notice.

Terminating a Month-to-Month Lease

In a periodic or month tenancy, there must be 15 days’ notice given before the end of the monthly period.

Terminating a Week-to-Week Lease

Similarly, if the tenancy is weekly, the notice must be given 7 days before the end of the current period.

Eviction Notice for Tenant At Will

When evicting a tenant at will, Florida landlord-tenant law requires the completion of specific steps.

  1. The landlord must inform the tenant of the specific problem for which they are being evicted in writing.
  2. The tenant must be given a time to correct the problem, even if the issues is non-payment of rent. Note that the landlord may accept part of the amount owing and still evict the tenant.
  3. The landlord must file the tenancy at will eviction notice in court and have the tenant served with a summons and complaint.
  4. Five days later, the landlord may request a date for the court hearing.
  5. If the tenant fails to answer or pay the overdue rent, then the landlord may proceed with eviction without a hearing.
  6. To complete the eviction, the landlord must obtain a court order and a writ of possession enforceable by the sheriff. The landlord themself cannot physically evict the tenant.

Tenant At Will Rights

Florida state law governs the rights of both landlords and tenants in a tenant at will relationship for real property. Notwithstanding the type of agreement, state landlord-tenant law fills in where the terms of the tenancy are unclear.

At Will Tenant Rights for the Tenant

No matter whether a tenant at will or other type of renter, all tenants have the following basic rights:

  • Right to private and peaceful possession of the property
  • Right to use without interference of the landlord — they may enter only at a reasonable hour and with notice unless there is an emergency
  • Right to live in dwelling fit to be lived in — there must be working plumbing, hot water and heating, structural integrity, and reasonable security

Moreover, a tenant at will has the right to move out for no reason simply by giving notice as described above. When moving out, the tenant has a right to recover their security deposit within 15 days or a written notice explaining why part or all of the deposit was withheld. The tenant may object in writing.

Finally, the landlord may never remove the tenant’s property or lock the tenant out of the property. Only the sheriff may lawfully perform the eviction.

In some instances, the real property in which the tenant lives may be foreclosed upon. In that case, federal law may step in and allow the tenant to remain on the premises for the remainder of their lease term.

Tenants At Will Rights for the Landlord

Like for the tenant, state law also provides rights for the landlord. These rights include:

  • Right to receive rent payments
  • Right to regain possession at the end of the lease with the property undamaged

However, a landlord also has specific duties:

  • Duty to respect the tenant’s rights to peaceful possession
  • Duty to maintain home in a reasonable condition
  • May not increase rent or decrease services in a discriminatory manner
  • May not threaten to sue for possession in retaliation
  • May not discontinue utilities, remove doors or appliances, or change the locks

Need Help with Tenancy at Will Florida Law?

Whether you’re a tenant or a landlord, navigating Florida’s landlord-tenant law alone can be difficult, especially when the facts are contentious. If you’re bringing or defending an eviction action, seeking to rent out your property, or having difficulty serving notice of intent to terminate, Cueto Law Group can help.

Contact us today for a consultation or to learn more.

Key Takeaways on Florida Tenant At Will Rights

  1. There are various kinds of tenancies. A tenancy at will occurs where there is no definite rental period specified in the written lease or oral agreement. This tenancy may be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or year to year.
  2. Even if the lease agreement is not in writing, Florida landlord-tenant law imposes rights and responsibilities on both the landlord and the tenant. A tenant may not be evicted, for example, without a court order and a writ of possession enforced by the sheriff.
  3. Either party to a tenancy at will may terminate the lease at any time for any reason or no reason.


Can a landlord remove someone from a lease without their consent?

Yes. Under Florida state law, a landlord may remove someone from a lease without their consent for any reason or no reason at all. However, the landlord must provide notice depending on the period of the lease (e.g., weekly, monthly, quarterly). Eviction requires a court order.

How long can a tenancy at will last?

A tenancy at will may last indefinitely. If the lease agreement is oral, the rental period may be weekly, monthly, or quarterly. A year-to-year lease requires a written agreement. Otherwise, the lease may continue so long as the tenant provides rental payments and the landlord accepts those payments.

Who is a tenant at will in Florida law?

A tenancy at will is created when there is (1) an oral lease; (2) a written lease with no definite term; (3) a month tenancy; (4) or a holdover tenancy. A tenant who holds over without the landlord’s consent, however, becomes a tenant-at-sufferance that the landlord may consider as a trespasser.

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