Renting your home can be a great investment, but there are some things that you need to know before you commence such an undertaking. Prior to renting, be aware of the following:
1. Are you renting a mobile home, a condo or a house?
Why is this important? The Florida Statutes have specific requirements for each type of housing. Familiarize yourself and understand what obligations you are mandated to do under Florida Law. The statute defines important information as to what a Landlord is required to provide a tenant, information regarding the security deposit, inspections of property and the eviction process, if necessary.
· Attached Mobile Homes - Florida Statute 723
· Recreational Vehicle Parks (non-attached mobile homes) - Florida Statute 513
· Apartments, townhouses or houses - Florida Statute 83
2. Are you planning to write a lease and how long do you want a lease to run?
It is always recommended that all lease agreements should be in writing. All parties benefit from a written lease agreement, which sets out lease terms regarding pets, landscaping, fees, utilities, early termination, etc. When drafting a lease, it is important to get your lawyer involved. Its best to have your lawyer review the lease agreement in the beginning so they can make sure that your home and rights are protected and safeguarded from potential litigation. You also want to make sure the terms are legal and current under Florida law. Invest in the beginning, so you can avoid high legal fees in the end.
3. Thinking of hiring a property manager?
Property managers are a great asset when renting out property. They are the main contact with the tenant(s) and handle most of the tenant issues and questions. However, you need to read the contract carefully when entering an agreement with a property manager. Make sure you read and understand the terms of the agreement. What are the property manager’s duties? When can they act on your behalf? When do they need your consent? What are their fees? How do I terminate the relationship if needed? What are their duties and expectations if there is ever an eviction? Etc., Etc. REMEMBER, a property manager is your agent when handling the rental property, meaning that anything they do or don’t do will always remain your responsibility/liability. For example, some bad eggs have been known to rent the property, “hold the security deposit” and vanish without a trace. Even if this happens, the Landlord is still obligated to comply with Florida law in regard to the security deposit. Simply stating that you don’t have the money to give back the Tenant’s security deposit is not going to be much of a defense in court. Make sure to get recommendations.
4. What are your expectations with a rental property?
Renting property is typically left to investors, so you need to be realistic. When renting your home, you will have to realize it is no longer “your home” and is now a rental business. Research the terms “normal wear and tear” because your definition is likely very different than the court’s definition and case law. Do not expect renters to maintain the home in immaculate condition. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a great renter, however there are more bad than good. Create a financial cushion for repairs and cleaning in-between each rental agreement. When a renter is behaving badly, make sure you provide them with written notice and give them an opportunity to cure. If they fail to do so, this will only help you should you ever need to go to court.
The decision to rent can be a good one, but far too often individuals are overly excited to become landlords or desperate to rent out their properties due to a variety of financial circumstances. Please do not let excitement or desperation cause you to make mistakes that lead to more problems. Be smart, do your research and consult with an attorney that is familiar with Landlord Tenant Laws. If you would like to consult with an attorney from the Law Office of Pamela J. Helton, please call the office today at (352) 243-9991.