Lease Agreement in Florida: What You Need to Know

Before signing the Florida Realtors Contract to Lease (form CL-9), it’s important for both landlords and tenants to understand its purpose and limitations.

ORLANDO, Fla. – What is the main commitment made by both parties when signing the Florida Realtors Contract to Lease (form CL-9 or CL)? They promise to sign a lease before a specific deadline.

That’s it. This key obligation is stated in Paragraph 1, where it states that both the landlord and tenant “agree to execute a lease agreement… no later than [date] for the property described below.”

What happens if either party fails to sign the lease by the deadline? Paragraph 15 provides the answer. If the tenant fails to sign the lease (or fulfill any other promises in the CL), the landlord is entitled to the deposit as liquidated damages. If the landlord fails to sign the lease, the tenant can get their deposit back and seek damages for any harm caused by the breach.

Regarding the deposit, it is mentioned in Paragraph 2 of the CL. Some people confuse this deposit with the deposit for the future lease, but they are separate. The deposit for the future lease is mentioned in Section 5 of the CL, along with other payments due before occupancy. However, it is acceptable for both deposits to be the same amount if both parties agree that it’s a fair amount in case of a breach of the CL.

Paragraph 1 assigns the responsibility to prepare the lease to one party. Whichever box (Landlord or Tenant) is checked, that party will prepare the lease. It is crucial to ensure that the lease includes everything mentioned in the CL, as Paragraph 1 states that “The Lease will include the terms set forth in Paragraphs 3-12 of this Contract to Lease and other mutually agreeable terms.”

What are the “other mutually agreeable terms”? The CL only covers the essential key terms, so the actual lease will typically have additional pages of language. Ideally, the parties can negotiate the remaining lease terms in good faith. If not, the CL does not explain how to resolve the dispute. The resolution will likely depend on the specific circumstances. If one party is making unreasonable demands to avoid signing the lease, they may lose their case under the CL. If it is a genuine disagreement that cannot be resolved, the tenant may get their deposit back without any penalties under the CL.

Is it possible for the final lease to have terms different from those in the CL? Yes. Once a lease is entered into, the CL’s purpose is fulfilled, and the parties must look solely to the lease for their rights and obligations. The CL explicitly states: “Once the parties enter into a Lease, Lease provisions that conflict with provisions of this Contract will control.”