There are a number of issues that can result in serious problems for tenants if they are not aware of them when renting. Never sign your leasing paperwork without reading or understanding what you are signing. A leasing agent should go over the requirements and answer any questions to insure your understanding of the lease. Assuming is a common mistake and reading and questions up front will remove the guess work later.
Never lie or falsify information on the rental application which can result in future lease violation and eviction. Not including all of those who will be living in the rental or disclosing pets on the application will almost always result in an eviction if it is later discovered by the landlord. Hiding criminal convictions or falsifying employment and rental history can be reasons for an application to be rejected when screened. There is usually a fee required with the application and it will not be returned if false information is given and you are denied.
Don’t smoke in a non-smoking property. If you move into a community with restrictive covenants, don’t park a boat or RV in the driveway if it is not permitted. Some subdivisions even have rules about mowing the yard and parking on the street. Finding out after the move can cause problems and extra expense if you have to rent additional storage space or move.
Never assume the landlord knows all of the issues and conditions or damages to the rental property and has it documented. Always take pictures yourself and document in writing any damage seen when moving into a rental. Let your landlord be aware of any maintenance issues or repairs. Using E-mail is a good method of establishing a documented trail of communication. Any damages caused by a tenant, not initially documented, will be the responsibility of the tenant at move out.
Sometimes tenants think because a rent due date falls on a weekend or holiday that the rent can be paid late. Rents are due as stated in the lease and late fees are enforceable leading to eviction if not paid. Many tenants hear stories of the eviction process taking months. The truth is, if done properly, only 20 days before a Sheriff will show up with the landlord and physically move the tenant out.
As a tenant with a legal lease, you have legal possession of the property subject to rules and conditions of the lease. The Florida Statutes protect your rights as a tenant and restrict certain actions of the landlord. Questions regarding these statutes can be found on the internet or by consulting an attorney. Tenants often question an owner’s right to enter their home resulting in conflict. The law, with the exception of an emergency, requires the landlord to notify the tenant prior to coming to the property. A tenant is obligated to give a landlord reasonable access, however, reasonable is not interpreted as being a pest.
Don’t assume, be honest, keep communications open between tenant and landlord, document conditions and read your lease to ensure a pleasurable rental experience.
-J. Matthew Scheel | Owner of Sundance Rental Management, Inc.