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



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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®

Buying Investment Homes in Stuart Florida


InvestorsEnhancing Your Acquisition Team


As an investor your needs are different than the typical home buyer. You need someone who can identify and show you multiple properties that meet your investment goals and make sure the paperwork happens right and on time. Eric Slifkin and his team serves our investor clients with a full compliment of professional real estate services. We can help you, the individual real estate investor locate and build a solid portfolio of real estate investments, managing your transactions from negotiation to settlement.


Ten reasons to work with Eric Slifkin and his support team:


-We handle transactions ranging from single family homes and condos to multifamily units.
-We are experts in Stuart area real estate and understand the investor mindset, wants and needs.
-We help you identify suitable investment properties that match your criteria.
-We provide objective opinions on your selections based on local knowledge, construction expertise and comparative market analyses reports (CMAs).
-We have direct access to both Florida Regional MLS and Martin County MLS systems, which jointly serve South Florida’s Treasure Coast.
-We work with REO banks and brokers, short sale properties and FSBO sellers.
-We offer In-house title services as well as lender and insurance resources.
-We will manage your transaction from property search through settlement, acting on your behalf to spot problems before they grow too big.
-We can find qualified and screened tenants for your rental properties.
-We are affiliated with Keller Williams Realty, one of the most progressive and highly ranked brands in Real Estate.


If you are serious about investing in real estate please contact us to discuss your needs and experience our personalized real estate services for investors.


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.

Stuart, FL Rental Homes | For Landlords Seeking Tenants

When it comes to finding a tenant in the competitive Stuart, Florida rental market, flexibility in what you allow can expand your pool of prospective tenants and minimize vacancies. Here are some things to consider when seeking a tenant for your rental property:

RentalsLease Terms

You may want to allow a shorter lease term or offer an early termination clause (you can charge a higher rent or require a cancellation fee). This works well for corporate transferees and relocating families who plan on purchasing a home. They also can be good tenants as their move is often subsidized or they have cash from the sale of their home.


Getting Creative

Offer a step-up lease for a desirable tenant who is unsure of the rent. A step-up lease starts at a lower rent and increases after a six month period. You may want to include verbiage that the tenant can cancel the lease without penalty at the end of six-months if he is unwilling to pay the rent increase.

-Be flexible about allowing small pets (with an additional pet fee or deposit).

-Allow the tenant to pay the security deposit over a period of several months.


About Credit Challenged Prospects

Due to the loss of a home and other issues arising from this economy, many prospective tenants will have damaged credit. You may want to be flexible on credit standards as many of these people have money and will need a home; it makes sense to try and find a way to work with them.


-Do not let a tenant with a poor credit history spread out his security deposit over several months.

-Be sure to perform a detailed background check.

-Set the ground rules going in. For example:

* The rent is due in full at the first of the month.
* The late fee goes into effect on the 4th.
* The eviction process starts on the 8th.
* If they vacate by the 15th, leaving the unit undamaged and broom-clean, their security will be returned, otherwise you will file suit.


I have been listing rental properties here in the Stuart area since 2003 with few problems. But I have had several evictions over the past year, largely due to the recession. That said, as a landlord it is important that you perform your due diligence and enforce tenant rules.