Whether you’re a seasoned landlord or someone who’s considering renting out a house, there’s no better time than now to earn money as a landlord in Florida.
With more people flocking to the Sunshine State, the housing market is bustling and booming, and it shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, 33.75% of Florida households are renters (as of 2019), and where there are renters, there are landlords making sure their tenants’ needs are being met.
Plus, Florida is one of the best places – if not the best place – in the US to make money from rental properties.
The average rent in Florida is around $800, but you can expect to make as much as $2,500 per month in big cities like Orlando or Miami Beach.
That said, if you’re interested in becoming a landlord in Florida, there are some things you need to bear in mind so you don’t get yourself (or your tenants) in a precarious situation. Here’s a list of 5 things you shouldn’t do as a landlord in Florida:
- Get tenants without doing your due diligence
Otherwise, you might end up with a bad tenant, which can turn into an utter nightmare. If you get a less-than-ideal tenant, you’ll probably have to deal with a host of problems, such as severe damage to your property, your tenant’s refusal to maintain utilities, their failure to pay rent, and people who aren’t on the lease but are living in the unit.
No landlord in their right mind would want a difficult tenant, but, thankfully, there are steps you can take to find the perfect tenant. For example, you can benefit from tenant screening services, which can make finding the right tenant easy and hassle-free. With these services, you can check information, like whether or not the renter has a history of paying on time or whether they’ve ever been evicted.
Having this knowledge will ensure your property is well maintained and your renters pay you every month.
- Enter without any proper notice
Even though the property belongs to them, landlords can’t just enter a rented place whenever they want to.
Under Florida law, landlords are supposed to provide at least 12-hour notice if they want to enter a rented home, and they can only enter the occupied property during “reasonable” hours, which are between the hours of 7:30 am and 8:00 pm.
Besides giving ample notice, landlords have to outline their reason in writing for accessing the property, e.g., making repairs, conducting a routine inspection, showing the unit to prospective tenants, or carrying out a tenant’s request.
Although a tenant cannot refuse to give their landlord access to the unit when the landlord gives proper notice, they can request a date change or add a clause in the lease agreement to limit how many times the landlord can enter the property.
If you want a lawyer-written lease agreement form specifically made for Florida landlords, EZlandlordforms.com, which consists of a team of landlords aimed at helping other landlords, can help you.
- Delay repairs/maintenance
Landlords are required by Florida law to make repairs requested by the tenant within 20 days of the request being made. These repairs can be anything from replacing broken windows to cleaning and fixing gutters to replacing a plumbing fixture to painting the exterior of a building. Failure to address the issue in a timely manner may allow the tenant to withhold payment of rent until the repair has been completed.
However, you should watch out for bogus maintenance requests. This is actually a fairly common tactic that bad tenants might pull. Usually, the situation looks like this–everything on the property suddenly starts “falling apart” and then the tenant stops paying rent. In many of these cases, the tenant is simply searching for reasons to blame their landlord for their failure to make their rental payments.
Fortunately, if you did your research before getting your tenant, chances are you have a good tenant who wouldn’t pull this kind of trick on you. If this is the case and your tenant makes a repair or maintenance request, you should deal with it as soon as possible.
- Raise rent unjustifiably
In Florida, there’s no limit on how much landlords can increase the rent on a Florida property. This means that a landlord can raise the rent by any amount they choose.
But when increasing the price of rent, landlords have to provide their tenants with written notice well in advance, and it has to state the following:
- How much the rent will increase by
- When the new rent will be effective
- How the tenants can make their payments
It should also be noted that landlords cannot raise the price of rent until after the lease agreement has expired. If their tenants are renting on a month-to-month basis, the landlord will have to provide 15-day notice for the next payment due date.
- Evict tenants unlawfully
There are a variety of reasons a landlord might evict a tenant, but they still have to provide the tenant with enough notice and go through the eviction process legally. The length of notice varies by state, and in Florida, renters have 3 days (excluding weekends, holidays, and the day the notice was issued) to pay their rent or leave.
A landlord who doesn’t go through the proper legal channels might get sued if they end the tenant’s occupancy or the rental agreement before the lease’s expiration.
Abruptly locking a tenant out of the unit, shutting off the utilities, or removing exterior elements or the personal property might fall under Florida’s definition of retaliatory eviction.
If a landlord violates the law, they run the risk of facing a legal uphill battle and their tenant may be entitled to monetary damages.