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Civil Litigation, Landlord & Tenant Law in Florida, Real Estate Law

Signing a New Lease Agreement

Are you a TENANT entering into a LEASE?

Most tenants are unaware that they have certain rights when they are involved in a entering into a lease with their Landlord.

Prior to signing any Lease Agreement:

Walk through the premises to identify any problems that should be fixed BEFORE you rent. Take pictures, video or make notes of any questionable conditions and include provisions for repairs in the rental agreement or in a separate written document signed by both parties.

A tenant is an equal party with the landlord. You never have to agree to any rental arrangement. Before renting a home, be sure the rental agreement covers ALL the issues addressed in this blog. Before you sign, make sure you thoroughly understand the terms of the agreement. If you do not understand, do not sign the rental agreement – it may be time to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. There is no grace period allowed for canceling rental agreements, so if you sign, you are bound to the agreement.

A rental agreement is an agreement to rent property referred to as lease. Rental agreements may be either written or oral. Most rental agreements are written because oral agreements can be subject to misunderstandings and are difficult to prove. A written rental agreement can be a formal contract, or simply a copy of a letter stating the rights and obligations of both the landlord and tenant.

Florida law requires that notices to and from a landlord must be in writing, even if the rental agreement is oral. You should always retain a copy of any correspondence to and from your landlord. If the rental agreement contains no provision as to duration of the tenancy, the duration is determined by the periods for which rent is payable (week-to-week, month-to-month, etc.). All other terms are either those specifically addressed by law or those that are part of the agreement between you and your landlord.

A landlord has the discretion to collect various deposits as well as some rent in advance. These advance payments generally vary in range. You should be careful about making any deposit unless a definite decision has been made to move into the unit. A tenant who puts down a deposit but then decides not to occupy the unit, MAY NOT be entitled to a refund. If a deposit is non-refundable it should be stated in the rental agreement.

A damage deposit is the most common requirement of landlords. At the time of the pre-rental walk-through with the landlord, you should make note of damaged items or areas, worn rugs, broken fixtures, etc. and give a copy to the landlord. Keep a copy for your files, which may help eliminate or minimize disputes later.

When you move out, the landlord must either return your deposit within 15 days of termination of the rental agreement, if the landlord does not intend to impose a claim upon the security deposit; or justify in writing by certified mail, to the tenant’s last known mailing address within 30-days upon termination of a rental agreement, as to why they are keeping a portion of or all of the deposit. If the notice is not sent as required within the 30-day period, the landlord forfeits his/her right to impose a claim upon the deposit, unless you fail to give proper notice prior to vacating. Unless you object to the imposition of the landlord’s claim or the amount thereof within 15 days after receipt of the landlord’s notice of intention to impose a claim, the landlord may then deduct the amount of his or her claim and shall remit the balance of the deposit to you within 30 days after the date of the notice of intention to impose a claim for damages. If you object to the landlord’s claim you may file a complaint with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services or institute an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to adjudicate the landlord’s right to the security deposit.

You and the landlord share many of the responsibilities. Maintenance of the premises is a good example. Your landlord must provide a healthy, properly maintained place for you to live. You are required to keep the premises in good condition and to occupy them as a peaceful neighbor.

If you have any question regarding this or any other legal matter our firm may be able to help you. Please contact Jupiter Legal Advocates at (561) 748-8000 or email us at info@jla.legal for further information and assistance. We try our very best to respond immediately.

If you require the immediate services of a highly experienced and aggressive attorney, please call for a FREE consultation

JUPITER LEGAL ADVOCATES

561 748-8000
email us at: info@jla.legal

Attorney William A. Fleck