Rentals have become more commonplace in Florida. Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, it is important to familiarize yourself with the components of a Florida rental agreement. This way, you can save yourself the legal trouble.
Your Guide to Creating a Florida Rental Agreement
There are many appealing places to reside in Florida. This is why many individuals attempt to relocate to Florida each year. That said, a lot of them are unable to purchase real estate right away. This is where renting comes in.
In 2019 alone, renters occupied an estimated 43 million housing units in the United States. Renting is a great option for those who want to enjoy living in Florida but lack the capital to purchase a property just yet. For landlords, though, renting out a property involves a lot of moving parts.
For instance, you must create Florida tenant forms for potential or interested renters to fill out. You must also draft a Florida rental agreement for tenants to sign. This agreement will protect both parties in case of disputes and lays down what each party expects from the other.
Here are all the important components of a Florida rental agreement form:
1. Parties to the Lease
A Florida lease agreement should, first and foremost, contain the names of the parties involved. Make sure to include the names of all the tenants of legal age regardless of their civil status.
Listing down only one of the names will allow other unlisted tenants to get away with breaches of contract. By including all of their names, you can make every tenant accountable.
The same logic applies to your name as a landlord. Writing down your name on the Florida rental contract allows you to perform the actions stipulated like collecting rent.
2. Lease Duration Dates
There are two main types of tenancy durations: short-term and long-term. A short-term tenancy requires a rental agreement and typically runs on a month-to-month basis. On the other hand, a long-term tenancy calls for a lease agreement, otherwise known as a fixed-term lease. This type of agreement covers a longer duration, typically a year.
Make sure your contract includes which type of tenancy term you will be using. Short-term rentals offer more flexibility, but long-term leases provide more security. Indicate what date the agreement will take effect as well as the termination date. Having clear duration dates will ensure the final inspection and move-out date runs smoothly.
3. Rent Details
Among all the stipulations in a Florida rental agreement, rent takes the number one spot in terms of sources of disagreements. Like any good contract, your rental or lease agreement should clearly show, in writing, how much the rent is. This way, neither party needs to rely on a “he said, she said” argument, and you can prove your case in court if the situation comes to that.
Apart from the rent amount, make sure your agreement includes when rent is due, the mode of payment (cash, check, credit, etc.), and how the tenant/s must pay (by mail, deposit, in office). This is also the section where you would state a grace period if you are willing to impose one.
Ideally, you would have tenants who always pay on time and in full. However, the reality is much harsher. Not all tenants pay when rent is due. As such, if you have any late fees, make sure to outline the terms, including the amount, in the contract, as well.
4. Security Deposit
Rental properties have many different security deposit arrangements. It is important to stay aware of what security deposits are required and how the inspection occurs when the lease terminates.
Tenants need to be aware of what damages can be reduced from the deposit so that they have realistic expectations. It will also help if the tenant is well-aware of the existing Florida laws affecting security deposit. According to Florida law, the landlord must return the security deposit within 15 days after the tenant moves out.
5. Occupancy Limits
Your Florida rental agreement must clearly express that only the tenants (names indicated and signed) and their children can reside in the property. This way, you can prevent visitors from outstaying their welcome. This also discourages qualified tenants from allowing their friends or family (who are not their children) from staying too long. If a tenant goes against this stipulation, you, as a landlord, have a legal right to evict them from the property.
6. Right of Entry
It is important to establish the right of entry so that the tenant is aware when the landlord has the right to enter the property when they are out of the house. Landlords cannot just go in and out of their tenants’ homes as they please.
In fact, according to the landlord-tenant law, if you need to make any repairs, you must give your tenant at least 12 hours’ notice of your intention to enter. For all other situations, you must give your tenant notice within a reasonable period prior to entering.
7. Alterations to the Property & Damages
Leases need to cover property alterations and damages clearly so that residents can know what is allowed and what is not. This is to avoid fees deducted from the security deposit due to damages.
Stating this in your Florida lease agreement can also prevent disputes between you and your tenant in the future.
8. Clauses Involving Florida’s Lease Termination and Eviction Rules
It is wise to understand Florida’s rules about lease termination. Florida rental laws indicate that a lease can be terminated when:
- It runs its entire duration
- Either of the party breaches the lease agreement in material noncompliance
As a landlord, you are obligated to give your tenant advanced notice when the lease is ending, including 7 days for a weekly lease’s termination, 15 days for a monthly one, 30 days for quarterly, and 60 days for a yearly lease. If the tenant has failed to pay rent, you must give an eviction notice to either leave the property or pay the rent that is due. Both landlords and tenants need to understand their rights when the agreement is not being honored or is coming to the end of its terms.
9. Landlord & Tenant Responsibilities
Each lease should have a clear list of what the different responsibilities of each party are. As a landlord, by law, you must provide a habitable living condition for your tenant. Some of your responsibilities include but are not limited to providing the following:
- Functioning facilities for hot water, running water, and heat during the winter
- Garbage disposal facilities and outside receptacles
- Locks and keys
- Clean and safe common areas
- Reasonable provisions for exterminating pests including rats, termites, ants, and other bugs
Tenants also have certain responsibilities they must uphold, such as:
- Operate all facilities and appliances on the property in a reasonable manner
- Avoid excessive noise
- Avoid destroying or removing any property belonging to the landlord on the premises
- Keep the plumbing in good condition
- Remove garbage regularly
- Maintain cleanliness to keep the dwelling sanitary
Landlord and tenant regulations in Florida are strictly enforced. However, it is wise for each lease agreement to have additional terms written in that are relevant to the particular property that is being leased. This way, you can avoid confusion and disputes in the future.
10. Pet Policies
Many Americans own pets, but not all landlords allow them on the premises. If you have a no-pets policy, your Florida rental agreement should clearly state that.
On the other hand, if you do allow pets but have certain restrictions, it is important to make them known. Include these restrictions, such as the size or number of pets allowed, in your Florida rental contract. Your tenant must also pick up after their pets and take responsibility for any damages their pets cause.
Florida Rental Agreement Template
Not all landlords have the necessary knowledge or experience to create their own contracts. If you find yourself in the same boat, consider consulting with a law firm or have a lawyer draft one up for you. In doing so, you can ensure you have an ironclad rental agreement that does not come into conflict with any federal, state, or local laws. Alternatively, you can also create your own Florida rental agreement by answering a few questions and filling out a few fields here.
The Importance of a Rental Agreement
Having a Florida rental agreement can help both landlords and tenants alike. With the number of renters in Florida increasing with each passing year, landlords must stay prepared and protected. One of the best ways to do this is to come equipped with a rental agreement that covers all necessary and relevant information.
If you are interested in renting a property in Florida, Florida Property Management can be of great assistance to you. Simply search by zip code for real estate companies, property management companies, or community association management providers that are close to where you are looking to lease your next property.