The Honest Broker: Navigating a Lease
BY: Diane Lott, Broker/Paradise Found Realty
The law provides designations to each party of a lease as to their responsibilities during the time of the lease. Initially, for a lease to be enforceable in court, any lease for a period of more than a 1 year is to be in writing and witnessed by 2 persons. The landlord has the responsibility to maintain the property in compliance with applicable building, housing, and health codes. For example, the landlord is responsible to maintain appliances, heating/cooling, water and building maintenance.
Security deposits and advance rents:
The landlord is required to make clear provisions for the handling of deposit money and must notify the tenant in writing within 30 days of receiving the security deposit or advance rent as to the how the funds will be “held” and interest accrued, if any. There are 3 options available to the landlord according to law.
* Hold the total amount in a non-interest-bearing account in a Florida bank for the tenant’s benefit. The landlord cannot “commingle” the funds w/ any other funds of the landlord.
* Hold the total amount in an interest-bearing escrow account in a Florida bank. The tenant shall receive 75% of the interest earned or a 5% simple interest at the election of the landlord. Again, no commingling of funds w/ landlord accounts.
* Post a surety bond w/ the clerk of circuit court (rarely used).
Return of security deposit:
Upon tenant’s departure, the landlord has 15 days to return the security deposit including accrued interest, if any, if there is no intention of making a claim for damages against a deposit. If the landlord intends to make a claim for damages against the deposit, the landlord has 30 days in which to notify the tenant by certified mail. Unless the tenant objects within 15 days after receiving the landlord’s notice, the landlord can deduct the amount of the claim and return an balance remaining.
The tenant must maintain the dwelling in a clean and sanitary manner and not destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the premises or property belonging to the landlord. Also, use conduct in a manner that does not disturb neighbors. The landlord has the right to enter with reasonable notice. For a normal repair, notice must be 12 hours and be done between 7:30am-8:00pm, along with any other times w/ the permission of the tenant.
Termination of a lease:
If the landlord does not maintain the premises within 7 days after receiving written notice from the tenant, the tenant may terminate the lease without penalty. If the cause to fail to maintain the premises is beyond the control of the landlord, the lease can be terminated by either party. If the tenant violates the lease by non-compliance, the landlord can deliver written notice specifying the reason and intention to terminate the rental agreement. The tenant has 7 days from the date of the notice to vacate the premises.
Failure to pay rent:
If the tenant fails to pay rent when due, the landlord is required to deliver a written demand for payment of the rent or possession of the premises. If the default persists for 3 business days after delivery of the demand for payment, the landlord may terminate the agreement.
***To collect rent, no landlord can cause the termination or interruption of any utility service. The landlord cannot prevent a tenant from gaining reasonable access to the dwelling or remove outside doors, locks, or a tenant’s personal property from the dwelling unless the unit has been surrendered, abandoned or the tenant has been lawfully evicted.
Diane Lott, Broker
Owner: Paradise Found Realty
Paradise Found Realty, Inc. of Palm City
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