Rental Agreements: Lease’s to protect the Landlord (Part 1 of 3)

Whether or not to rent your home is an important decision that should be made only after careful thought, deliberation, and planning. This decision could lead to be a very profitable one, or one that could potentially cost you tens of thousands of dollars. A thorough rental agreement can make all the difference in the world.  This week I will begin discussing rental/lease agreements, and certain clauses that every homeowner should include in such an agreement. While reading this and upcoming blogs, keep in mind that what I am discussing is for the benefit and protection of the landlord, not necessarily the tenant.

As an attorney, and landlord for over 10 years, I have found that there are certain clauses that a landlord should always included in a rental agreement. Let me start by saying that the boilerplate lease agreements that you can download online or purchase at your local office supply store offer laughably inadequate protection for the homeowner who is renting out their home, investment, and in many cases their nest egg.

Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes provides certain “defaults” to dictate the relationship, duties, and obligations of the parties in a residential tenancy. Generally speaking, Florida law fills in the “gaps” in these relationships and if done properly, your rental agreement will be the “law” that will govern the relationship between you and your tenant.

Credit and Rental History Search– When individuals have good credit, it typically means that these individuals are responsible adults who care about their reputation, at least financially. I would urge every landlord to charge a fee for a background search; the typical charge is anywhere from $35-$100.  By doing so, it weans out individuals who are not serious about renting or those who know that they have issues that would likely cause concern. On the same note, informing potential renters that you will have “your attorney” conduct the search and draft the agreement further bolsters your objective of getting honest and trustworthy tenants.

Grace Period– No good deed goes unpunished! As you may have guessed, I am not a proponent of giving tenants a grace period. Not because I’m cold and heartless, but because they often cause delays in the eviction process, and in some cases, they can actually limit the landlord’s right to even evict tenants for not paying their rent in a timely fashion. Once you start allowing and accepting late payments, the court can interpret it as the landlord actually waiving the requirement that the tenant pays their rent on time. If your tenant insists on including a grace period in the lease, then make sure you have an additional clause that protects the landlord from a possible waiver of demanding timely payments, should they be accepted.

Join me for the next two weeks as I continue to discuss additional clauses that every landlord should incorporate in their rental agreements.

This is a generalized discussion on rental agreements in Florida and is not intended for any particular set of facts. By no means does this blog create an attorney-client relationship or privilege between the Attorney and the readers. If you are facing foreclosure or considering buying, selling, or leasing real estate in Southwest Florida, you should speak to a licensed Florida Attorney. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions on upcoming topics, please comment below or email GuirguisLaw@gmail.com.

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Posted on May 16, 2012, in Legal and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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