Being a landlord comes with a number of rights and responsibilities. Just what those rights and responsibilities are, however, varies based on where you live and is governed by federal, state and city codes. Here’s what you need to know about being a landlord in Florida.
As a landlord, you are expected to provide your tenants with a home that is deemed safe by state and federal regulations. This means that you are expected to make reasonable repairs when needed. These repairs can include broken pipes, broken windows or doors, and other things that impair the livability and safety of the home. If a something does break, it is the tenant’s job to inform you. You will have seven days to make the repair. If you don’t, the tenant may have the right to withhold rent.
You do not have the right to shut off utilities, lock tenants out, remove appliances, or perform any other action that may interfere with your tenant’s ability to live safely within the property. Doing so may result in you having to pay the tenant for damages. (we have obtained damages in excess of this amount, there are exceptions)
Additionally, you must also respect the rights of your tenant. By signing a lease agreement with the tenant, you are agreeing to give the tenant the right to peaceful possession. Meaning that although you are the landlord, you are not able to interfere with the tenants leased property without first consulting with the tenant and providing a reasonably timed notice. In Florida, a reasonable amount of time is defined of at least 12 hours notice. This right to peaceful possession is present throughout the duration of the tenancy. If your tenant is moving out and you would like to show the property to future potential tenants prior to the move-out date, you must first provide your tenant with a notice and you must receive the tenant’s agreement.
It is important to remember that you are not allowed to increase or decrease the rent based on sex, race, gender or religion. As a landlord, you are expected to provide the same quality of service to all of your tenants.
You are also required to provide your tenants with a list of disclosures. For example, if anyone is allowed to act on behalf of the landlord, the tenant must be informed. These disclosures are usually outlined in a written lease agreement, but may not be if a written agreement is not issued.
If you own numerous properties, it is also smart to maintain close supervision of those which are currently not under lease. In Florida, a trespasser may obtain legal possession of an uninhabited property through a process called adverse possession. If someone trespasses on an uninhabited property and does so publicly for seven years, the property legally becomes theirs. To avoid this, it is best to closely supervise your properties, and keep track of which are currently being leased as well as those that aren’t.
Although, as a landlord, you have many duties, you also have rights. In signing a lease agreement with a tenant, you and the tenant are agreeing that you both understand the rights and duties of both the tenant and the landlord. It is important to remember that a lease agreement is a legal contract, and that you can take action if your tenant disregards your rights.
Your main rights as a landlord include the right to collect rent and the right to receive your property in the same condition as it was prior to the tenant moving in.
These rights, however, are under the assumption that you maintain your duties. If you violate the tenant’s rights by failing to provide a safe residence, shutting off utilities, or discriminating against the tenant, then the tenant may be able to break the lease or withhold rent.
If the lease agreement is violated by the tenant, certain circumstances must be met before the tenant can be evicted. If the tenant violates part of a lease agreement, the tenant has three days to cure the violation (which means fix what he or she did wrong) or move. After those three days are up, the landlord can file for eviction. If the tenant does not pay rent by the due date, for example, and does not pay overdue rent within three days after receiving notice from the landlord, the landlord may file for the tenant’s eviction. An unconditional quit, gives the tenant only a short period of time to move out, and cannot be cured. In Florida, an unconditional quit can be issued by the landlord if the tenant intentionally destroys the property, produces numerous unreasonable disturbances, or violates a lease agreement twice within a 12-month period.
In addition to the rights and duties you have as a landlord in Florida, there are also rights and duties that are given to you by the federal government. These federal laws are just as important as those you have in Florida, and you must also be conscientious of these. An example of a federal law in place is that landlords may not use lead-based paint in their properties, as it is deemed unsafe in a home environment.
Your business relies on your knowledge as a landlord. So whether you are looking to become a landlord, or are just trying to brush up on your knowledge about being a landlord in Florida, knowing your rights and duties is crucial to your success. If you feel that you rights as a landlord have been compromised, an experienced attorney at Roy & Associates, P.A., can help you handle your case.