Stuart, Florida Rental Homes: FAQ’s

Stuart, Florida Rental Homes: FAQ’s

An Interview with a Landlord

While renting a home may be a lot less complicated than buying one, there are still a variety of complications that can arise. Make sure you head into renting with a clear understanding of the lease and the landlord. Below are 6 key questions to ask a prospective landlord. By the way, the landlord will probably have some questions for you, too.

What is the protocol for maintenance issues? Find out the best way to communicate with your landlord regarding maintenance requests and determine the time frame in which you should expect a response. If the landlord can’t clearly answer these questions, that could be a major red flag.

How many have come before me? It’s good to know if the landlord and/or other tenants have lived in the rental unit before you. If the property has had a few other tenants, that’s often a good sign; however, if it’s changed hands dozens of times, that could pose a variety of problems. If tenants move in and out quickly, this could signify an issue with the unit.

Can I make upgrades to the property? In an effort to secure a responsible tenant, some landlords will make upgrades to the rental unit or allow the tenant to make changes. Find out if you can add your own stamp with painting, flooring, landscaping, or appliances, and if so, what procedures are in place for pre-approval.

Is there a regular extermination schedule? Pests are often common problems in rental units. Ask the landlord if an exterminator services the property on a regular basis.

What will utilities cost? Utility expenses need to be factored into your decision-making process and subsequently, your budget. Ask the landlord to provide you with the previous six months of utility bills (water, gas, electric) to help you determine whether or not the rental is affordable.

What are the particular rules and regulations? It doesn’t matter how thoroughly you read your lease (and you should — before signing), because little things can get past you. This also helps you get to know your potential landlord a little better. You’ll learn about their personality and you’ll be able to gauge whether or not you will get along down the road.

Source: Yahoo! Real Estate

Demand Surges for Rental Housing

Freddie Mac: Demand surges for rental housing

Rentals

MCLEAN, Va. – Oct. 18, 2011 – Freddie Mac released its U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for October. It shows rental demand rising and calls the multifamily sector “a strong positive signal for the U.S. housing industry.”

Outlook highlights:

• Over the year ending mid-2011, the Census Bureau reported a net increase of 1.4 million households that moved into rental housing – a 4 percent rise in the number of tenant households in just one year.

• The U.S. homeownership rate fell about 1.5 percent over the past year (from 66.9 percent to 65.9 percent); homeownership rates fell about 4.4 percent for those under 25 years of age, and by 7 percent for those aged 25 to 29 years.

• Apartment rents, which had been flat to falling in many projects during the 2008-2009 recession, have started to rise, albeit slowly.

• New construction starts of apartments in buildings with at least 20 dwellings has picked up this year; in the second quarter, it reached its highest point since the end of 2008.

• Low Treasury yields suggest that mortgage rates fell to new lows for multifamily lending in recent weeks.

© 2011 Florida Realtors®

Reprinted with permission. Florida Realtors®. All rights reserved.

 

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Prior Foreclosure May Not be a Problem for Renters

Prior foreclosure not a problem for renters

 

LOS ANGELES – May 6, 2011 – More than three-quarters (82 percent) of independent landlords say they would rent to someone who lost a home in foreclosure, assuming the applicant traditionally had good credit, according to a survey released today by The National Association of Independent Landlords.

 

“Landlords typically won’t rent to applicants with poor credit – and a foreclosure will absolutely slam someone’s scores. The exception is when they see people who have paid their bills their whole life but lost their job, can’t meet their mortgage and must hand their keys back to the bank,” says Tracey Benson, president of The National Association of Independent Landlords.

 

Despite recent credit problems, Benson says applicants with a foreclosure can prove good risks, chiefly because they did once own their own home. “These people are used to taking pride in where they live.”

 

Increasingly, mortgage defaults stem more from lost jobs rather than borrowers who had a toxic mortgage they could not afford. A thorough background check usually indicates whether financial woes are part of a recent spate of bad luck or a life-long trend.

 

The National Association of Independent Landlords polled 563 members from March 21 through March 25, 2011.

 

© 2011 Florida Realtors®

 

Reprinted with permission. Florida Realtors®. All rights reserved.

 

Landlords :: Five Rules for Screening Tenants

As a landlord, selecting a qualified tenant is one of the most important steps in the process of getting your home rented. In choosing the right tenant you should expect to receive your rent in full, on time, and that your property will be well kept. On the other hand, a poor or uniformed decision on your part can result in a myriad of problems, including having to make your mortgage payment out of pocket while trying to collect the rent or evicting your tenant.

 

That said, here are five rules to consider in seeking a tenant (when applying these rules make sure you are working within your state’s rental laws):

 

1. Establish minimum criteria that every applicant must meet to be accepted including:

 

-Verifiable income that is at least three times the amount of the rent

-Credit score above 600

-Clean background check with no evictions

 

2. Require a formal application. This information will be provided to the tenant screening company who will charge you a fee for the report. This charge is passed onto the applicant as the application fee. Collecting the fee up front ensures you are covered for this expense and is your first red flag should they balk about paying it. Always obtain written consent to run a credit report and background check.

 

3. Get permission to contact current and past landlords as well as employer(s). Current or former landlords and employers may only confirm atenant’s residency or employment, but you can try sending a form asking direct questions that may provide information vital to making informed tenant decisions.

 

4. While not always practical, you may want to visit a prospective tenant in their current home. This can provide a window into what you may expect from this applicant.

 

5. Should you turn down an applicant always do it in writing and provide the source, if any, of the information you used to reach that decision. Better rental screening companies will provide a pre-written acceptance or rejection letter to make your job easier.

 

The key to success in procuring a tenant is your determination to say no when the screening results do not add up. By not letting your emotions affect your decisions and maintaining consistent rental policies you can avoid dealing with a tenant who could become your worst nightmare.

 

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Landlords: Getting Your Property Rent-Ready

If you are renting out your home, getting your property “rent-ready” as quickly as possible is essential to success in maximizing your rental Stuart Rental Homesincome and finding a quality tenant in the shortest time possible. When it comes to rental homes, you should consider the following:

 

* When leasing a property you only get one chance to make a good first impression. It is essential that the home look as good as possible before marketing of the rental begins.

* A rental in good physical condition will attract better quality tenants, who will pay higher rent and present fewer problems.

* Vacancies are expensive! Some maintenance costs can be recovered, but not vacancy – once it’s gone it’s gone. A lost month’s rent cannot be recovered.

 

Preparing Your Unit to Rent

 

It may seem obvious but having a bright and clean rental will result in a quicker sale and a better tenant! For seasonal rentals I recommend a thorough cleaning before we begin showing the unit. You should also plan on another cleaning before your tenant arrives, especially if it has been vacant for a while. Bathrooms need to be spotless and free of mold and grime. Carpets may also need shampooing. You may want to consider a cleaning service for scheduled visits – local cleaning companies charge about $100.00 for a typical 2/2 condo or villa (basic service).

Clutter and personal items should be removed or stored in a secure area. You should also try to address any maintenance needs before showings begin.

If upholstered furniture or bedding is showing its age, consider having it cleaned or replaced. Likewise, threadbare linens, pillows and sheets should be replaced as needed.

Also, consider a fresh paint job if the walls are dingy or showing wear and tear. This is very important for vacation rentals to help move them quickly.

You should provide your tenants a list of contact numbers (including yours) for service emergencies. Include information about anything that pertains to your unit, complex or community.

Curb appeal is as important in a rental as a sale, so make sure the lawn is cut, shrubs trimmed and outside repairs completed. Patios, sidewalks and driveways should be power washed and the roof inspected by a professional roofer.

If there is a homeowners association, make sure to complete any required forms and obtain an application along with a copy of the rules and regulations for the tenant. You will also want to make sure you have gate clickers, garage remotes, pool and mailbox keys ready to go. If you are working with a Realtor®, he or she will need these items with the signed rental listing agreement.

Getting your rental property “rent-ready” will ensure you procure the best tenant, for the most rent in the least amount of time!

 

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site at www.TreasureCoastHomeSales.com. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

 

Landlords: FAQs About Leases


Frequently Asked Questions


  • What reasons do I need to file an eviction?

    You can file an eviction if a tenant refuses to vacate the premises after the service of a proper notice to the tenant. Whether or not a notice is “proper” is determined by law and by the lease. Different types of notices are required depending on the reason for the termination. For example, a notice that terminates due to the nonpayment of rent is a different notice than a notice based on criminal activity.


  • How do I begin an eviction?

    All evictions begin with a proper notice that tells the tenant to vacate the premises. Once the notice expires, an eviction complaint is filed with the Clerk of the County Court.


  • Can I evict a tenant who has children?

    You can evict any tenant who fails to comply with the lease.


  • What notices do I need to give?

    It is critical that a proper notice be given. Different types of notices are required depending on the reason for the termination. For example, a notice that terminates due to the nonpayment of rent is a different notice than a notice based on criminal activity. The wording of the notice is important. You should get advice from an attorney before issuing a notice to the tenant.


  • How do I serve the notices?

    Your lease may tell you how to serve the notice. Check its language. If your lease does not give you specific direction on how to serve the notice, then you can do one of the following: a.) hand it to an adult who lives at the property; or b.) post it on the door to the property.


    The law permits you to mail the notice to the tenant. However, using the mail means special rules apply to the deadlines contained in the notice. Do not use the mail for the service of a notice without first getting legal advice.


    If you are posting the notice on the door, be sure to fasten it securely to the door so that it does not blow away.


  • What is a Three Day Notice?

    A three day notice is the most common type of notice. It is used only in situations where the tenant has failed to pay rent. The notice tells the tenant to either pay the rent within three days or vacate the premises within three days.


    The language on the three day notice must be very precise. Not all forms that one finds on the internet are valid under Florida law!


  • What amounts can I put on the Three Day Notice?

    The three day notice can demand only the rent that is due as of the date the notice is served. It cannot include amounts that are not rent. It cannot demand rent that will become due tomorrow or due any time in the future.


  • Suppose the tenant tries to pay me?

    The tenant has the absolute right to pay you the full amount of rent due within the time frame of the three day notice. You must accept the rent if it is offered to you within the three day time period. If the three day time period has expired, you can refuse the rent.


  • Suppose the tenant only has partial rent?

    You do not have to accept partial payment after you have served a three day notice. However, you do have to accept rent if the amount tendered is the full amount that was demanded on the notice.


  • Can I collect late fees?

    You can collect late fees only if the lease says you can. If there is no written lease, then you cannot collect late fees.


  • How long does an eviction take?

    It varies depending on the reason for the eviction, how busy the court is, and whether the tenant mounts a defense. Generally, an eviction for nonpayment of rent where the tenant does not file a defense to the case, takes about three weeks until judgment is entered. If a writ of possession must be issued and served to make the tenant move, then about another week is added to the time.


  • Can I refuse cash?

    Your lease may say how payment is to be made. If your lease says you can refuse cash, then you can refuse cash. Otherwise, you must accept it.


  • Do I need an attorney to file the eviction?

    The eviction is a lawsuit. It must be filed by an attorney or by the individual landlord who will then represent himself in court.

    A property manager can file some evictions. The property manager can file an eviction based on nonpayment of rent, provided the lawsuit does not seek a money judgment and provided that there is something in writing showing that the property manager has the owner’s permission to file the eviction. Also, the property manager is only entitled to file the eviction and then submit paperwork for a default judgment to be entered. The property manager cannot act as the “lawyer” at a hearing or file any other papers.


    If the landlord wishes to file his own eviction, the clerk of court may have forms available for a small fee.


    There are advantages to having an attorney handle the eviction. The attorney is most familiar with the eviction process and can most ably handle the filing of the required papers. The attorney is on the frontline, able to handle any defense asserted by the tenant and any problems that may arise.


  • Can I hold off on a repair if I do not receive rent?

    No. The obligation to repair and maintain property is totally independent of the tenant’s obligation to pay rent. If the tenant has not paid rent, then the remedy is to serve a three day notice.


  • Can the tenant fight the eviction?

    The tenant has the opportunity to file an answer to the eviction complaint. In that answer, the tenant can list the reasons why the eviction should not occur. These “defenses” are then heard by the judge. However, the tenant is only entitled to have the judge consider the defenses if the tenant has deposited the rent that is owed into the court registry.


  • Suppose the tenant retains an attorney?

    Just as the landlord is entitled to hire an attorney, so too is the tenant. If the landlord is representing himself in the eviction, and the tenant retains an attorney, then the landlord should seek the help of an attorney so that there would be an “even playing field” in court.


  • Do eviction cases go to court?

    All lawsuits are filed with the “Clerk of Court”. All judgments are signed by a judge. However, not all cases go through a hearing or trial. In fact, most evictions do not require a hearing or trial. If the tenant fails to file an answer or fails to deposit the rent that is owed, a “default” will be entered and, following that, a “default judgment”. For those cases where a default is entered, there is usually no hearing or trial.


  • What happens if the tenant pays the rent to the court?

    If the tenant deposits the rent that is owed into the Court Registry, then a “final hearing of eviction” or an “eviction trial” will be scheduled. At that final hearing, the judge will decide if the landlord is entitled to get back possession of the rental premises. The landlord must be prepared to prove his case at the final hearing with witnesses and exhibits. The tenant will have the chance at the final hearing to present proof why he should not be evicted.


  • Can the tenant file bankruptcy and stop the eviction?

    The tenant can file a bankruptcy case at the bankruptcy court. Once the bankruptcy case is filed, all collection efforts must stop. That means that the eviction must stop until the bankruptcy judge gives permission for it to proceed. Getting that type of permission is not difficult but generally requires the assistance of an attorney who is admitted to practice in that court.


  • Will the tenant have to pay my attorney’s fees?

    The Florida Landlord Tenant Act says that whoever wins a landlord tenant case can win attorney fees. Thus, if you are successful in evicting your tenant, you are entitled to a judgment that says the tenant must pay your attorney fees and court costs. Keep in mind that having a judgment for the attorney fees is not the same as having the money in your pocket! You would still need to collect the fees.


  • Can I file an eviction if I have no lease?

    Yes. However, you will need to show what the oral agreement was about the tenancy. How much is the rent and how often was it to be paid? On what day was rent due? Those facts have to be alleged in the eviction complaint and then proven to a judge.


  • How do I non renew a tenant?

    A notice of nonrenewal can be served to the tenant and will be valid if it gives the tenant a sufficient number of days “warning” that the lease will not renew and if it tells the tenant to vacate on the last day of a rental period.


    How many days must the notice give? Look first at your lease. It may tell you how much notice must be given for a nonrenewal. If your lease does not contain such language, or if there is no lease, then the following rules apply:

    — If the rent is paid on a monthly basis, then give not less than 15 days’ notice prior to the end of any monthly period

    — If the rent is paid on a weekly basis, then give not less than 7 days’ notice prior to the end of any weekly period.


  • Do I need a reason to non renew a tenant?

    No. You can nonrenew a tenant for any reason, as long as it is not retaliatory or discriminatory.


    This answer may be different if the rental property receives the benefit of a rental assistance program or other government benefit. Consult with an attorney if you are not sure.



Information courtesy of the Law Offices of Heist, Weisse & Davis

Phone: 1-800-253-8428 Fax: 1-800-367-9038

Serving Florida’s Property Managers with offices in Orlando, Clearwater, and Fort Myers Beach, Principal Office



Articles for Landlords


Learn about important issues affecting landlords and tenants including:



Click here for over 150 articles by the attorneys at the law offices of Heist, Weisse and Davis, P.A., eviction and property management law services providers for Florida residential property managers and landlords.



Information courtesy of the Law Offices of Heist, Weisse & Davis

Phone: 1-800-253-8428 Fax: 1-800-367-9038

Serving Florida’s Property Managers with offices in Orlando, Clearwater, and Fort Myers Beach, Principal Office



Renting Your Vacation or Second Home

RentalsRenting your property can be a great way to offset some of the ongoing expenses of owning a vacation or second home. If you are an out of town owner you will need to consider how you will manage the property long distance. Hiring a property management company or a real estate professional are two options that can ease the stress of going it alone.

A property management company will charge an ongoing fee, usually 10% of the monthly rent for their services (in addition to their fee for procuring a tenant) while a Realtor may offer some services as part of his listing agreement. The latter can save you an ongoing management fee but will require some “hands-on” participation from you.

As a Realtor who handles rentals as well as home sales, I provide many of the services offered by a property manager as a courtesy to my clients. This primarily consists of getting your home “rent ready” with the assistance of service professionals who provide various maintenance services directly to my clients for a fee while I help manage the process.

Some owners rely on a neighbor or nearby relative to perform these functions only to find the job does not get done or is done poorly. In the end you wind up with an unhappy tenant you need to deal with from miles away. Regardless of which approach you take, your home must be spotless and equipped to handle the demands of tenants seeking a stress free vacation rental and who may become repeat renters for years to come.


Preparing Your Unit to Rent

It may seem obvious but having a bright and clean rental will result in a quicker sale and a better tenant! For seasonal rentals I recommend a thorough cleaning before we begin showing the unit. You should also plan on another cleaning before your tenant arrives, especially if it has been vacant for a while. Bathrooms need to be spotless and free of mold and grime. Carpets may also need shampooing. You may want to consider a cleaning service for scheduled visits – local cleaning companies charge about $100.00 for a typical 2/2 condo or villa (basic service).

Clutter and personal items should be removed or stored in a secure area. You should also try to address any maintenance needs before showings begin.

If upholstered furniture or bedding is showing its age, consider having it cleaned or replaced. Likewise, threadbare linens, pillows and sheets should be replaced as needed.

Also, consider a fresh paint job if the walls are dingy or showing wear and tear. This is very important for vacation rentals to help move them quickly.

You should provide your tenants a list of contact numbers (including yours) for service emergencies. Include information about anything that pertains to your unit, complex or community.


This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.



Listing Your Rental: Frequently Asked Questions

RentalsQ: We are flexible in terms of short or long term rentals and would like to know your opinion on each market for the area and our property.


A: Right now there is a strong demand for annual unfurnished residential properties. I also get calls for short term rentals, which often are corporate relocations such as FPL and Martin Memorial Hospital employees, but demand is unpredictable.


Q: I am interested in finding out your fees for services. Also, we do not live in Florida at this time and would like to know your availability for seasonal rental in case this is the option we decide on. We are looking for services that can take care of the turn around for new tenants.


A: Here’s what we do when we list your rental:


Marketing

-Evaluate the rental potential of your property

-Create a Web page featuring the rental

-Exposure on multiple Web sites including CraigsList, Facebook, and TCPalm (the Stuart News’ Treasure Coast Web site).

-MLS and Realtor.com


Finding a Tenant

-Comprehensive tenant screening including credit and background check

-Collect advance deposits

-Lease preparation

-No fee until we rent your property


Fee Schedule:

10% commission for annual rentals

15% commission for rentals less than six months

Note: we share our fee with cooperating brokers who help procure a tenant.


Sales Tax

We collect sales tax on all rentals less than six months from the tenant. This fee is disbursed to you with other advance deposits. You must file and pay the tax to the state of Florida.


Property management:

We do not offer property management but I can recommend service people for repairs and maintenance. You would pay for these services directly but as an out of town landlord I can assist you with coordinating maintenance schedules in terms of getting the house “rent ready”.


Rent Collection

We collect advance rent, which is typically first, last and security. These funds are disbursed to you less our fee. The tenant then pays the ongoing monthly rent to you directly from the second month on. Seasonal rentals under four months are paid in full in advance. Note: Florida law requires you to keep the tenant’s security on deposit in a Florida bank.


This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.


Understanding Landlord Insurance

Turning your home into a rental or buying an investment property? Expect to pay up to 20% more for the right insurance policy to protect your property. Read more


Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

© Copyright 2010 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®