handing keys | questions about landlords

The Most Important Questions About Tenants And Landlords Answered

It’s important to know all the rules and legalities involved in renting out property. As much as possible, both tenants and landlords act to preserve their best interests. But if they do not see eye-to-eye on certain issues, they’re more likely to have conflicts along the way. If you want to have a good working relationship, keep in mind these answers to the most important questions about tenants and landlords.


Tenants and Landlords FAQs: All Your Questions Answered

Questions about rental properties typically revolve around the same topics. Regardless, landlords and tenants will have different perspectives on these matters. If you want to maintain a great landlord-tenant relationship, it’s important to know the answers to these questions. Here is our guide on the most important landlord-tenant questions.


Questions About Tenants

question | tenants and landlords FAQsAs a landlord, here are the most important questions about tenants:


1. Can Landlords Have Preferences for Potential Tenants?

As the landlord, you are free to decide who to rent your property to. While it’s acceptable to have some preferences — above all, the ability to pay rent — landlords must practice caution when listing their requirements. Avoid anything that is considered housing discrimination.

It is against the law to deny potential tenants based on their race, color, gender, age, religion, familial status, national origin, or disability. To protect yourself from liabilities, use a tenant criteria checklist every time you are interviewing potential renters. Make sure it complies with federal, state, and local laws.


2. Should Landlords Entertain Tenants Who Want to Move In Immediately?

If you have a unit that has been unoccupied for some time, it may be tempting to entertain a potential tenant who wants to move in immediately. However, the answer to this should be a firm no. Even if the tenant offers to pay rent upfront for x number of months, this does not guarantee that they can cover the remaining months in the lease. Apart from that, there are many other risks in accepting tenants without properly screening them.

Landlords want to rent their property to good tenants and the best way to find them is through a proper screening process. A background check will tell you a lot about their credit score, employment status, and rental history.

Meanwhile, the interview gives you a glimpse of their personality and behaviors. If you skip all that, you can end up with bad tenants who may not pay rent on time, destroy property, and cause tensions with other renters.


3. Should Landlords Allow Pets?

Even with a no-pets policy, potential tenants will always ask if they can have a pet. It is up to the landlord whether to allow pets or not. However, this decision must apply to everyone — except in the case of service animals. When deciding to allow pets or not, landlords should weigh the pros (e.g. extra income from pet fees) and cons (additional cleaning expenses and damage to property). Make sure that your pet policy is clearly stated in the lease agreement.


4. Can Landlords Increase the Rent?

In Florida, there is no law that restricts landlords from increasing rent as much as they want. However, if a tenant is on a fixed-term lease, you cannot increase their rent until the contract expires. If you are leasing on a month-to-month basis, you must give tenants a proper amount of notice.

When setting or raising rent, landlords must consider the value of their property and the typical rates in their local market. Setting the rent too low could lead to insufficient operating funds while increasing the rent too high could deter tenants from leasing your property.


5. How Should Landlords Deal with Late Rent Payments?

calendar | landlord-tenant questionsCollecting rent is one of the hardest parts of being a landlord. Even if tenants are legally obligated to pay rent each month, there are many reasons for not doing so.

Renters may have simply forgotten the due date or, they may have lost their job and cannot afford to pay rent anymore. Landlords must be firm though since late rent payments can also affect their own financial responsibilities.

Follow the lease agreement when dealing with delinquent tenants. Avoid giving extensions as this could further embolden tenants to not pay rent on time. However, it is still important to communicate with tenants and why they have not paid rent.

If a tenant has been responsible thus far and is currently experiencing financial hardship, the landlord may decide to make an exception. Have the new terms in writing and make sure to follow them.


6. When Can Landlords Keep a Tenant’s Security Deposit?

Landlords can keep the security deposit of tenants who did not follow their lease agreement. For instance, you can keep the security deposit if a tenant breaks their lease early, does not pay rent and utilities, or damages your property. If the tenant leaves trash or personal belongings upon moving out, you can also deduct cleaning expenses from the security deposit.

According to Florida’s landlord-tenant law, landlords must make a claim on the security deposit. Otherwise, they must return a tenant’s security deposit within 15 days. Within 30 days, landlords must also send a written notice via certified mail indicating how much deposit they are keeping and their reasons for doing so. If not, they forfeit their right to make a claim on the deposit.


7. Can Landlords Enter Tenant’s Rent Property Without Notice?

Tenants cannot prohibit their landlord from entering the leased property from time to time. Landlords should give reasonable notice to tenants when making repairs or inspecting the leased property. This means informing tenants at least 12 hours before their intended entry. Property inspections must also be conducted within office hours.

However. landlords may enter the unit without proper notice but only under the following circumstances:

  • the tenant has given consent
  • the tenant is withholding consent without good reason
  • there is an emergency
  • tenant is absent for a period of time (half one-half the time for periodic rental payments)


Questions About Landlords

As a tenant, here are the most important questions about landlords:


1. Can Tenants Make Changes to the Property?

Tenants must consult their lease agreement before making changes to the rental property. Typically, minor changes such as hanging picture hooks, repainting the walls, or putting up curtains do not need the content of the landlord. More extreme changes may not be allowed or require the written consent of the landlord.

Keep in mind that if a tenant attaches permanent fixtures to the property, it becomes the landlord’s property when you move out. Also, if you plan to make improvements but end up damaging the property, the landlord has the right to use your security deposit or charge you for the repair costs.


2. Do Tenants Have to Pay for Utilities? Which Utilities Are Included in the Rent?

Before moving in, landlords should discuss with tenants on which utilities are covered by the rent. In most cases, landlords pay for water, sewage, garbage, and snow removal. Meanwhile, tenants may be responsible for utilities such as electricity, gas, cable, and internet. All this should be clearly stated in the lease agreement.


3. What Should Tenants Do If There Is Something That Needs to Be Fixed?

maintenance | tenants and landlords FAQsLandlords have a responsibility to ensure that their rental property is in good working condition. As mandated by law, the property must be livable and up to code.

If there are maintenance issues like leaky pipes or foundation cracks, tenants must report it to the landlord as soon as possible. In turn, landlords must ensure that repairs are done in a timely manner.

Landlords may still repair damages caused by the tenant such as broken windows or holes in the wall. However, the landlord might charge tenants for the repairs.

If a landlord fails or refuses to make repairs — especially when dealing with maintenance issues that affect the livability of the rental property — tenants should provide a written notice to their landlord. They may also file a lawsuit to require the landlord to meet the implied warranty of habitability. Failure to make repairs could also be grounds for early termination of the lease.


4. What Happens When Tenants Do Not Pay Rent?

Upon signing the lease agreement, tenants are required to pay rent each month. Tenants who pay rent late may be required to pay an additional late fee. If a tenant fails to pay rent for consecutive months, the landlord can send a Notice to Pay or Quit. If the tenant still does pay rent, the landlord can then file for eviction.


5. When Can a Tenant Be Evicted?

If a tenant does not honor the terms of the lease agreement, a landlord must send a Notice to Cease. When the tenant refuses to correct the perceived non-compliance, the landlord can serve a Notice to Quit and begin the eviction process. If the noncompliance is something that cannot be corrected, tenants will have seven days to vacate the premises.

Landlords can also begin the eviction process on tenants who do not pay rent. They must send the tenant Notice to Quit or Vacate. The landlord can also file a case in court to recover unpaid rent or possession of the dwelling. Once there is a judgment and the sheriff delivers the Writ of Possession, a tenant will have 24 hours to vacate the premises.


6. Can Tenants Use Their Security Deposit As Last Month’s Rent?

Most landlords will not allow tenants to use their security deposit as their last month’s rent. The security deposit protects landlords from normal wear and tear or property damages that were caused by the tenant. It can also help soften the blow if a tenant fails to pay rent and vacates the property.


7. Can Tenants Refuse Entry to Landlords?

Landlords may own the property but once it is leased, they must respect a tenant’s right to privacy. Thus, they cannot simply enter tenants’ rental units without permission — except for certain situations such as an emergency or safety concerns. Tenants can refuse entry to landlords if they do not provide adequate notice. Landlords should also not abuse their right to enter a tenant’s unit. Also, keep in mind that tenants are not permitted to change their door locks without the permission of the landlord.


Understanding the Perspectives of Tenants and Landlords

Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, you will have some questions before the move-in date. These questions revolve around the same issues such as rent payments, maintenance procedures, or the eviction process. However, tenants and landlords are likely to approach each issue differently. That’s why you need to know the answers to these important questions about tenants and landlords. When you understand both perspectives, it will be easier to build a long-lasting professional relationship.

If you have other property-related concerns, feel free to search our online directory for property management companies, HOA management companies, and real estate agents.