Last Update: 1/20/17
According to the Miami Herald, renting a home is becoming more and more popular in South Florida. The idea of leasing a house, condo, or apartment seems smart in today’s real estate market for lots of people. Some may be dealing with a divorce and others may be renting homes after losing their home to a bank foreclosure. Others may feel that delaying a home purchase is wise, since existing home prices are elevated.
There are a lot of good reasons for leasing your home instead of buying it.
Consider this: the National Apartment Association released a research study last May 2010 that reported 76% of those answering its national survey believe that renting is a better option than buying real estate today — and over 3/4 of those giving this answer were home owners. That’s interesting!
Other benefits of renting a home, include having the freedom to move when the lease is up and not having to pay for major repairs or real estate taxes. Have a problem? Go to the phone and call the landlord — no trips to Home Depot and no unexpected bills from a plumber or electrician.
Knowing Your Rights Under Florida Landlord Tenant Law
Another story in the Miami Herald brings to mind the need for landlords and tenants to both understand the protections and the duties spelled out under state law. Not knowing the law can make you a victim of a scam. The Miami Herald’s example? Seems that an unscrupulous man pretended to be a landlord, and rented out apartments to unsuspecting tenants when he had no right to do so. Now, they’re looking for a new place to live.
Landlords need to know what they can expect from their tenants: tenants are legally required to maintain the property to some degree (ordinary wear and tear, etc.), to give advance notice before they vacate, etc.
Tenants need to know that landlords are legally required to make repairs promptly, to maintain and refund their security deposits under certain conditions, have access to the rental unit only under certain conditions (tenant privacy), etc.
Leases (Formal Rental Agreements) Provide Protection for Both Sides
The best protection for landlords and tenants is to have a written lease agreement, which is a legal document (contract) that documents the property interest (leasehold) that the tenant possesses for a set time period in exchange for an established monetary payment (spread over the term of the contract in periodic payments – monthly, weekly, etc.) and without that lease, the parties are controlled solely by state and federal laws applying to their situation.
A lease spells out the duties of both sides — and the consequences if they fail to meet their obligations. Tenants that don’t pay rent can be evicted. Landlords that don’t keep up the property can forfeit their rental income. It can all become quite complicated quite easily, and the use of an experienced real estate attorney can advantageous. This is particularly true when the popular bookstore form leases are used, since they are notoriously slanted in favor of the landlord, often at the expense of the tenant.
What Should You Do?
If you are dealing with an issue with an apartment, home or condo you rented, a good piece of advice is to speak with an experienced Florida real estate lawyer to learn about your rights. Most real estate lawyers, like Larry Tolchinsky, offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer) to answer your questions.
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