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Can renter walk away from recently signed 2-year lease?

By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law | Nov 12, 2020

Eric Feichthaler

Dear Mr. Feichthaler:

I recently signed a 2-year lease to rent a property, and I think I made a mistake. The house I am renting is fine, but I found something better nearby that is a little cheaper. The lease had no witnesses, and someone told me that leases require two witnesses to be valid. Can I walk from this?

— Emory T.

Dear Emory:

Florida law for decades required two witnesses of all signing parties for leases over 12 months in duration. However, F.S. 689.01 was amended re-cently, which has eliminated the witness requirement for leases. The legislature viewed the witness requirement as an unneeded burden to commerce, wasting the time of both landlord and tenant when many other methods can be used to confirm the parties agreed to the lease.

Even though this potential option is not available to you, you should review the lease to determine whether there are other ways to break the lease, and the relative costs of those options. If the lease is clear that you cannot break it, there could still be an opportunity to negotiate an exit with the landlord, and there may be other ways to minimize your economic exposure as well. If you are not able to reach a good solution with the owner, you may wish to seek professional review and advice.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for over 33 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continues his service to the community through the Cape Coral Caring Center, Cape Coral Historical Museum, and Cape Coral Kiwanis. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for over 20 years, and they have four children together. He earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell for professional ethics and legal ability, and is a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

Mr. Feichthaler can be reached at eric@capecoralattorney.com, or (239) 542-4733.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.