Legal Responsibilities of Florida Landlords
In exchange for financial savings, some homeowners would choose to run their rental home without the help of a capable Property Manager. However, running a long-term rental property in the state of Florida comes with multiple responsibilities for Landlords. Let’s outline some of the most important. While considering these responsibilities, think about why you need the help of a capable and experienced property manager as opposed to being the landlord and the property manager:
1.- Landlords cannot discriminate. There are anti-discrimination laws that landlords require to comply. Lack of attention to these lead to costly legal suits. You are not free to discriminate against prospective tenants based on their race, religion, national origin, sex, familial status (such as having children under age 18) or physical or mental disability. These are “protected categories” under the federal Fair Housing Act.
2.- Provide Habitable Housing. You are legally required to keep rental premises livable in Florida, under a legal doctrine called the “implied warranty of habitability.” If you don’t take care of necessary repairs, such as a broken heater, tenants in Florida may have several options, including the right to withhold rent.
3.- Use a legal written agreement. Without one, you may end with big headaches such as having tenants-at-will and create a situation hard to manage. The rental agreement or lease that you and your tenant sign set out the contractual basis of your relationship with the tenant, and it establishes basic guidelines, such as how long the tenant can occupy the rental and the amount of the rent. Taken together with federal, state, and local landlord-tenant laws, your lease or rental agreement sets out all the legal rules you and your tenant need to meet.
4.- Manage Security Deposits. What if your tenants cause damages to the house? One way to cope with this possibility is to hold a security deposit. When the tenant leaves at the end of the agreement, it will be crucial to manage this deposit in line with the law. If not, a dispute may be filed by either party.
5.- Follow the Landlord-Tenant act. This document is the law that rules the rental activity in the state of Florida. You need to make sure that the written agreement harmonizes with this legal code. This is because the act regulates several situations between landlords and tenants, such as the number of days the tenant has to pay after the contract’s due date.
6.- Don’t forget the legal disclosures. Under Florida law, landlords must make certain disclosures to tenants. Some deal with the security deposit, whether or not it will be held in an interest-bearing account. Landlords must also comply with required federal disclosures or face high penalties.
7.- Privacy of the tenants. Landlords can’t access their properties at will. Tenants have rights. For example, Florida landlords need to provide 12 hours’ notice before entering the rental property, to make repairs or show the property to prospective tenants. It is highly recommended to keep records every time a landlord comes to their property.
8.- Avoid retaliation against your tenant. Do not fall into the trap or increasing the rent or reduce provided services when a tenant makes a claim that is of a legal nature. It is a good practice to keep a paper trail of how you handle repairs.
You may be wondering about the complications of handling rental properties by yourself. Navigating the rental maze is a risky and challenging business. Certified Real Estate Investments is your local expert in the Central Florida area. Contact the experts and let us handle the complexities of the Floridian rental market.