William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice
Tenant-Victims, Abusers, and No Way to Escape: The Need for an Amendment to the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
Under the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, there is no right to early lease termination for tenants who must move to escape domestic, stalking, sexual, or dating violence. Florida’s failure to grant a right to early lease termination compounds the physical and psychological harm that victims face; abusers often live with the victim or know where the victim lives. In turn, abusers can return to the victim’s home and harm the victim; often, this results in serious physical harm or death. This Article explains why existing criminal and civil law does not adequately protect victims from their abusers. The Article also suggests a solution to the problem; it argues that the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act should be amended to authorize early lease termination rights for victims. This Article, based on an analysis of other states’ early lease termination statutes, proposes a model amendment to the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. The amendment grants victims early lease termination rights. Finally, the Article then explains how the proposed amendment works in tandem with existing law to limit the harm against victims of domestic, stalking, sexual, and dating violence.