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

This week we will conclude our discussion on the necessity of having a thorough rental agreement in place when renting residential real estate. Whether you are a homeowner considering renting your home for the first time or an experienced landlord, it is imperative that you protect yourself, your family, and your investment.

Repairs & Maintenance– An important consideration in drafting your rental agreement is whether or not there should be a clause that dictates that any repairs under a certain threshold dollar amount are required to be paid by the tenant. This is a good clause to include, especially if you don’t live in the same area as your rental property. This limits the number of trips you would have to take to your rental property to replace a burnt out light bulb at midnight. However, if you do decide to add this clause, you would also need to specify how the dollar amount would be calculated. As an example, the tenant and landlord could both choose a company to quote a price on the repairs, with the final say on which estimate to be relied upon would be with the landlord. If the cost of repairs is less than the agreed upon threshold, then it is the tenants responsibility to fix.

Another issue that coincides with repairs & maintenance is that of habitability. Florida law requires that the landlord complies with the requirements of applicable building, housing, and health codes: if there are no applicable building, housing, or health codes, the landlord is required to maintain the roofs, windows, screens, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, foundations, and all other structural components in good repair and capable of resisting normal forces and loads and the plumbing in reasonable working condition. This statute is necessary as it protects tenants from slum lords who are only concerned with receiving their monthly rent. However, in some instances, the home being rented may have a fairly low FMV, and as such, it would likely be in a lower income community where the rent would be substantially less than normal. It is not uncommon for a tenant to actually request that the landlord not spend as much money and effort fixing every little thing, in exchange for a further reduction in the amount of rent to be charged. If this is indeed the case, it is imperative that there is a clause in the lease that waives the above requirements. I would also add that it is a good idea to itemize the issues with the home that the tenant is consenting to. This would protect against the tenant making claims that the home is uninhabitable under FL law during future eviction proceedings.

Hold-Over Tenant- Florida law has a provision that allows a landlord to seek double the rental amount from a tenant who holds over after the termination of their rental term. The reasoning is to incentivize tenants to move out on their own when their lease has expired without having to have a hold over tenant evicted. In practice however, the courts are often reluctant to impose these types of damages upon tenants. However, the courts are much more likely to impose these damages when the tenant has expressly agreed to this in the rental agreement.

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

Posted on May 30, 2012, in Legal and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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