Congratulations on becoming a landlord! Now that you have overcome the first part of the hurdle, what next?
Well, what is left now is arguably the most important part of your landlord career. How you manage your Broward County property from here on can make or break your investment.
Before even thinking about advertising your rental property, you should first draft a lease or rental agreement. A lease/rental agreement stipulates the rights and responsibilities of each party to the lease.
When drafted properly, a rental agreement has the ability to reduce conflicts and misunderstanding between landlords and tenants.
So, what exactly should you include in your Broward County, Florida lease or rental agreement? Well, continue reading to find out.
Items to Include in a Florida Lease/Rental Agreement
1. Names of Tenants
It’s important to list the names of all adult tenants living in your property. Whether married or unmarried, friends or family they must all sign the lease or rental agreement.
In doing this, you make each one of them accountable for all lease terms. This means you can request the rent from any tenant if the others are unable to pay. It also means that if the Florida agreement was breached, you can terminate the tenancy of all tenants who signed.
2. The Lease Term
No Florida agreement runs indefinitely. A tenancy can take either of two forms, short-term or long-term. As such, make sure to indicate whether you are offering a rental agreement or lease agreement.
A rental agreement is a short-term lease that usually runs month-to-month. On the other hand, a lease agreement or a fixed-term lease is an agreement that runs for a longer period of time, usually a year.
If you want some level of security, then a fixed-term lease would be ideal. Although, if you are after some flexibility, then opt for a rental agreement.
Rent is, without a doubt, one area that attracts conflicts between landlords and tenants. It’s not enough to just tell your tenant what the rent rate is – put it in writing. You may have a hard time in court proving your case when it’s only your word against theirs.
When drafting your Florida lease agreement, make sure you state:
- The amount of rent
- When rent is due. This is usually the first day of the month.
- How rent is paid, by mail or in office
- The payment methods accepted. Good examples include cash, check, credit, online rent payment.
- The late rent fee, if applicable. You should also remember to state the fee as well as when it comes into effect.
- The amount of grace period, if applicable.
4. Limits of Occupancy
Clearly state in your Florida lease, that only renters (and their children) who have signed the agreement are allowed to live in the property. In doing so, you can avoid un-qualified tenants and ensure that only renters who have been screened and approved live in your rental premises. With this item in place, you’ll have legal right to evict a tenant who keeps unauthorized guests.
5. Maintenance & Repairs
Florida landlord-tenant laws require that landlords provide habitable living conditions. Among other things, it means that you must ensure that your property is always in a good state of repair.
If you don’t, your Broward County, Florida renter has the right to withhold their rent.
To avoid these problems, clarify who is responsible for what in regards to repairs and maintenance. You could, for instance, state that your tenant is responsible for:
- Maintaining the property’s cleanliness and sanitation.
- Alerting you to any repairs that may be required.
6. Deposits & Fees
The use and return of security deposits is also another area that attracts quarrels.
A renter may think that upon moving out they have left the property in perfect condition. While, as the landlord, you might see otherwise and request they pay for the needed repairs. To avoid such a scenario, make sure your rental agreement is clear on all details pertaining to security deposits.
- The security deposit amount. Florida does not have a specific limit, although more than two months’ rent is uncalled-for.
- How the security deposit is stored. In Florida, you can store a renter’s deposit in any of three ways: in an interest-bearing account; posted as a surety bond; or in a non-interest-bearing account.
- How you may or may not use the deposit. For example, the deposit can be used to cater for excessive property damage. However, a renter cannot use it to pay for the last month’s rent.
7. Pet Policy
With so many people owning pets, it only makes sense to have a pet policy. Now, some landlords allow pets while others do not.
If you do allow pets, then make sure that your lessees understand your pet policy. Your pet policy should define things like the size, number, and breed of pet allowed.
If you don’t allow pets, then make sure to state it plainly in your Florida lease or rental agreement.
8. Landlord Entry
Your Broward County, FL tenant has a right to the quiet enjoyment of their home. This means that you do not have the right to enter their rental as you please. To enter a rental unit, you are required to notify your tenant first.
According to the statewide landlord-tenant law, you’ll need to give your renter at least 12 hours’ notice before you intend to visit for repairs. For all other situations, the law simply states that the notice period must be “reasonable”.
It also goes without saying that the entry times must be reasonable as well. For example, between 8 AM and 5 PM during weekdays and between 9 AM and 3 PM during weekends.
These are the 8 key items that you should remember to include in your Broward County, Florida lease or rental agreement. If you find the drafting process a bit intimidating, then please consider hiring some professional help.