When landlords make mistakes, it’s often because they don’t know or understand what’s required of them and their rental properties. There are five specific things that landlords often don’t know about managing rental property in central Florida.
Fair Housing Laws
Fair housing issues are complex. You cannot discriminate against any protected class, including race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap and familial status. Additionally, you cannot put special stipulations in your lease that might violate fair housing laws. For example, imposing excessive inspections on a property where a tenant in a wheelchair lives can be a violation. Restricting the hours for which children can use the pool is also contrary to fair housing protections.
Many landlords are not aware that service animals are not pets. They are considered a prescription or a medical device. You cannot ask questions or restrict the type of animals that tenants use as service animals. This is a big controversy, but you must be aware of it.
Use licensed and insured vendors to make all of the repairs at your rental property. If you’re doing the work yourself, you are opening yourself up to lots of liability. If you do something wrong that causes harm to your tenant, you’ll find yourself in trouble. Your lease should reflect all of the tenant’s and landlord’s responsibilities when it comes to maintenance. The tenant has rights and can serve you a notice giving you seven days to solve a maintenance problem. If you don’t, they will have the right to cancel the lease. This can be very expensive for you.
The security deposit can often be a problem for landlords if they don’t understand the law. If you live out of state or out of the country, the security deposit you collect has to be kept in a Florida financial institution. You are not legally permitted to change the locks or turn off the water when a tenant doesn’t pay rent. Make sure you know what to do in cases that the tenant does not comply with the lease. Sometimes, you have a tenant who gets divorced and you release one of the parties from the lease. At the end of the lease, that spouse could come back and wants the security deposit. What will you do if you already returned it to the other person?
Landlords need to know how to screen tenants properly. You’ll need to look at credit and criminal reports and search for past evictions. Verify employment and talk to former landlords so you know how they paid rent in the past and whether they maintained the property. Investigate all prospective tenants thoroughly. Look at social media, the FBI’s most wanted list and the sexual predator registry.
Earn your peace of mind and make sure you are prepared and knowledgeable as a landlord. If you need any help managing your property, please contact us at RentCare Property Management.