There are many problems tenants can face if they are not fully aware of the laws or rules when renting. Prior to signing a lease, understanding what is expected of the tenant may help eliminate a problem later.
One of the most common mistakes tenants make is falsifying information on their rental application. This is a serious problem for a tenant if after moving into a rental unit it is found that they did not disclose a pet, or additional roommates, which most likely will result in an immediate eviction. Many of the questions on a rental application can be verified during the screening process, but if a tenant chooses to not disclose a pet or extra renters it is hard to catch until they take possession. A tenant should always review a property completely before submitting an application. Make sure there is room to park all of your vehicles and there are no covenants or restrictions that will restrict your use of the property.
Tenants often will paint interior walls or add shelving or modifications to their rental without permission from the owner or property manager. Although sometimes these items can be considered an improvement, if not pre-approved, they will have to be put back into original condition at the tenant's expense when they move. This is also true of damages caused by the tenant. There is often a misconception of what is considered normal wear and tear. Stains on the carpet, scratches on doors and cabinets, or dirty damaged walls are not normal wear and tear. As a tenant, it is imperative that you document any and all defects of the property with pictures and in writing and furnish this information to your landlord shortly after taking possession. Documentation will prevent disputes on the security deposit when you vacate.
Leases are legal binding agreements between an owner and the tenant. Tenants must understand that if it is written in the lease, it is enforceable. If the rent is late, late fees will be collected. If it says no pets, pets will not be allowed. Tenants sometimes feel they have a right to withhold rent if there is a maintenance issue or a conflict between the owner and themselves. These disputes are handled by the courts, however, rent is still due and should be paid to the court along with a written account of the dispute.
Another misconception tenants often have is the right of the owner or property manager to visit or inspect the property while they are in residence. A tenant with a lease has possession of the property and anyone wishing to visit must have the permission of the tenant to enter the property under most conditions. However, an owner or property manager has a right to access the unit with reasonable notice to the tenant or in the case of an emergency.
Whether a tenant or landlord, the Florida Landlord Tenant Act protects the rights of both and these laws are accessible online. Written agreements are generally enforceable between parties and disputes should be handled by an attorney or the courts. Honesty, documentation and a clear understanding of what is expected of a tenant when renting will eliminate problems and make leasing a property a pleasant experience for both the tenant and landlord.