Florida Tenant Screening
Last Updated: January 22, 2015
Florida has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, encompassing approximately 1,350 miles, and is the only state that borders both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the state is at or near sea level and is characterized by sedimentary soil.
How to Screen a Tenant in Florida
DISCLAIMER: We do our best to keep this information accurate and up-to-date, but we cannot guarantee either. The most recent law changes may not be reflected here. We do not intend this information to be legal advice, nor are we qualified to advise you regarding legal matters. We highly recommend consulting a lawyer qualified to discuss landlord-tenant law to advise you. We do not specifically endorse any of the websites linked from these pages, nor are we in any way affiliated with the agencies or individuals who have published them. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of information posted on these sites. If you find a problem on this page, please contact us so that we can get it fixed.
Step 1: Know Your Rights & Responsibilities
Landlords and property managers are subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF] (FCRA) during the tenant screening process. Additionally, Florida has laws that affect the tenant screening process. You can find the current Florida Housing Code on the Florida State Senate website. If you are finding the formalities of the state code daunting, you might want to check out these friendlier sites:
Recent Law Changes
On June 7, 2013, Governor Rick Scott signed into law House Bill 77, the most extensive change in over 20 years to the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act found in Florida Statutes, Section 83 Part II. The changes, additions and subtractions help to clarify some of the greyer areas of the law, and give guidance to property managers, attorneys and judges.Explanation Of The Changes
Step 2: Required Forms & Disclosures
Tip: before you rent for the first time, consider hiring a lawyer to review all of the documents you will use during the application and rental process to ensure that you are protected to the fullest extent of the law.
- Rental Application [PDF] (this must be completed in full by the applicant prior to screening)
- Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF]
- Consumer Report Disclosure [PDF]
If you are ACCEPTING an applicant:
- Move-In Checklist [PDF]
- Lease Agreement (written), containing or attaching the following information:
- Owner/Agent Identity – this should include name and address, and if the owner/agent is out-of-state it must include contact information for a resident of the COUNTY in which the rental is located that can act as an agent for the purposes of serving notices and process.
- Security Deposit – this must include the amount of the deposit and the conditions under which some or all of the deposit may be withheld. It must also include the name and banking institution holding the deposit.
- Non-refundable Fees – explicitly describe any non-refundable fees, and state clearly that they are non-refundable.
- Owner Or Agent Identity: In Florida, the landlord, or a person authorized to enter into a rental agreement on the landlord’s behalf, must disclose in writing to the tenant, at or before the commencement of the tenancy, the name and address of the landlord or a person authorized to receive notices and demands on the landlord’s behalf. (Fla. Stat. Ann. 83.50)
- Fire Protection: Florida landlords must tell new tenants about the availability of fire protection in a building over three stories high. (Fla. Stat. Ann. 83.50)
- Radon: In all Florida leases, the landlord must include this warning: RADON GAS: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that, when it has accumulated in a building in sufficient quantities, may present health risks to persons who are exposed to it over time. Levels of radon that exceed federal and state guidelines have been found in buildings in Florida. Additional information regarding radon and radon testing may be obtained from your county health department. (Fla. Stat. Ann. 404.056)
- Security Deposit: In Florida, within 30 days of receiving the security deposit, the landlord must disclose in writing whether it will be held in an interest- or non-interest-bearing account; the name of the account depository; and the rate and time of interest payments. Landlord who collects a deposit must include a copy of Florida Statutes 83.49(3) in the lease. (Fla. Stat. Ann. 83.49, 83.43 (12))
If you are DECLINING an applicant:
- Adverse Action Notice [PDF]
Step 3: Order a Tenant Screening Report
What You’ll Need
- A completed rental application signed by the applicant.
- Some details about your applicant:
- Email address
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Previous address
- Bank account number (optional)
- Bank routing number (optional)
What Will Be Covered
- Package Options
- Background Report Coverage for Florida:
- Criminal, OFAC/Patriot Act & Sex Offender Records – A nationwide search is always performed. These jurisdictions specifically are available in Florida: Alachua County Court, Baker Circuit And County Court, Bay Clerk Of Courts, Brevard Clerk Of Courts, Broward Circuit And County Court, Broward Clerk Of Courts, Broward Clerk Of Courts – Felony, Broward Traffic, Charlotte Clerk Of Courts, Citrus Circuit Court, Citrus Clerk Dispositions, Citrus Clerk Filing, Collier Clerk Criminal, Collier Clerk Traffic, Dade Clerk Of Courts, Desoto Circuit And County Court, Dixie Circuit And County Court, DOC Active Offenders, DOC Released Offenders, DOC Supervised Offenders, Duval Circuit Court, Duval Clerk Of Courts 2, Flagler Circuit Court, Franklin Circuit And County Court, Hernando Courts, Highland Courts, Hillsborough Courts, Indian River Courts, Lake Circuit And County Courts, Lee Circuit And County Court, Lee County Clerk Of Courts, Leon Courts, Leon Courts Traffic, Manatee Circuit And County Court, Marion Courts, Martin Court, Miami Dade County And Circuit Courts, Monroe Circuit Court, Nassau Circuit Court, Okaloosa Circuit Court, Orange County Circuit And County Court, Orange Courts, Osceola Courts, Osceola Circuit And County Court, Palm Beach Courts, Palm Beach Court Misdemeanor, Pasco Circuit And County Courts, Pasco County Courts, Pinellas Courts, Polk Circuit And County Courts, Putnam Circuit And County Court, Putnam County Traffic Court, Sarasota County Circuit Court, Seminole Circuit Court, Seminole County Circuit Court, FL Sex Offender Registry, St John Circuit Court, St Lucie Circuit Court – Felony, St Lucie Circuit Court – Misdemeanor and Criminal Traffic, Volusia Circuit And County Courts, Orange Traffic.
- Eviction Records – records are available from the following counties: Aluchua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Calhoun, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, Dade, Desoto, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Glades, Gulf, Hamilton, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Holmes, Indian River, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Monroe, Nassau, Okaloosa, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, St Johns, St Lucie, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Volusia, Wakulla, Walton, Washington.
- Bankruptcies, Liens & Judgments – records are available from the following counties: Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Calhoun, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, DeSoto, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Glades, Gulf, Hamilton, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Holmes, Indian River, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okaloosa, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Volusia, Wakulla, Walton, Washington.
- Social Security Number validation, Death Index, credit checks, previous addresses, alias names, and the Rent Check Advisor include all information available regardless of location.
Resources for Florida Landlords
- Florida State Bar Association Lawyer Search
- Florida Courts Directory
- Law Enforcement Agencies in Florida (Wikipedia)