You want to rent your home out to bring in a little extra cash.
The “For Rent” sign is out, and you’ve fielded calls from possible tenants. You’ve talked to all of them, shown the house, and feel like you’ve selected a good tenant.
After they pay their security deposit and first month’s rent, you’re done, right? Not quite.
As a landlord, you are subject to both Florida and federal laws regarding the rental property, how you treat tenants, and what to do if there are problems. Before you rent your home out, make sure you understand all of your responsibilities.
- While a written lease agreement is not required, it is recommended. This makes sure everyone understands what the rules and requirements are while the property is rented.
- The property must be fit to live in with working plumbing, hot water, and heating.
- The property must be free from pests and structurally sound.
- You must make that sure the home is relatively secure with windows and doors that work and lock.
- If a repair needs to be made, you must schedule it at a time that’s convenient for the tenants.
- You may only enter the property to inspect it or to make necessary or agreed upon repairs.
- At least 12 hours notice must be given before you arrive at the property. You cannot just “drop by.”
- If your tenant violates the lease agreement, you must give them very specific legal written notices regarding the problem and how much time, if any, they have to correct the problem.
- You are not allowed to remove the tenant’s property or lock them out, even for non-payment. Only the sheriff’s department can do this and only if they have a Court Order and a Writ of Possession.
- Before renting, you must disclose if the property has ever been painted with lead-based paints or other hazards. Typically this is necessary for homes built before 1978.
- You must also disclose in the rental agreement if the security deposit will be put into an interest-bearing account.
- When your tenant moves out, you have 15 days to return their security deposit in full or 30 days to explain in writing why you will keep all or part of the deposit.
- You cannot discriminate against potential tenants based on age, race, religion, familial status, gender, mental or physical disability, or national origin. Reasons you can reject a tenant include employment history, credit report, income, and previous rental history.
When you rent out your property, it becomes the tenant’s home. They have the right to use it, within the confines of the rental agreement, without interference from you. Before you become a landlord, learn what your rights and responsibilities are. If it all sounds like too much to remember, work with a property management team trained to keep up with all of the details – including your legal responsibilities.
For more information about your legal responsibilities as a landlord:
Rights and Duties of Tenants and Landlords, The Florida Bar