If you are a residential landlord in Florida, you know that a paying tenant is money in the bank. However, a detailed set of statutes applies to your relationship with your tenant and there are several sticky areas that often get landlords in trouble. Here are five laws applicable to landlords that cause the most problems. Read on for how to avoid them when leasing your own property.
1. If you obtain a security deposit or advance rent, you must keep the funds in an account separate from your own. The account can be non-interest or interest bearing, but speak with your attorney regarding this decision as there are different requirements for each account. Within 30 days of receiving the rent or security deposit, you must notify the tenant in writing with the details of how you are holding the money.
2. Return your tenant’s security deposit within 15 days of them vacating the premises. If you are going to make a claim on the security deposit, you have thirty days to give written notice to the tenant that you are imposing a claim and the reason. The tenant must object within 15 days of when they receive the notice; if they do not object, you can deduct the appropriate amount and return the balance to them.
3. If your tenant abandons the property, that does not mean you automatically get to keep the security deposit. The tenant may still make a claim against it, although you are relieved of the notice requirements explained in paragraph 2.
Every Friday, I ask my followers on Twitter to send me their legal questions anonymously. I choose one question to answer on the blog the following week. Here is last week’s question:
I was leasing a property from my uncle, but he lost it at foreclosure and now the new owner is threatening that he can kick me out. Is that true?
The short answer is: It depends. In 2009, the Federal government passed the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act. It is designed to protect existing tenants from eviction that have a valid lease. In most cases, tenants will have a minimum of 90 days from the date title is transferred to the new owner before they can be evicted. However, that new owner must comply with very specific notice requirements advising the tenant of the eviction. If your new owner has not done that, you may have a valid defense to any eviction.
Further, if you have a valid lease, you will generally be permitted to stay in the residence until the end of the lease unless the purchaser is going to move in to the property as their primary residence. So, if a bank has purchased the property it is more likely that you will be able to stay to the end of your lease. Either way, you must still receive the 90 days proper notice before you can be evicted.
This law only applies if you are a “bona fide” tenant — leases between children, spouses, or parents of the mortgager are not protected. You may need to prove that the lease with your uncle was an “arm-length’s transaction” — meaning that both parties were acting as they would in any normal marketplace and there was no “special deal” just because you were his niece. Your rent must also be fair market value for the lease to be considered “bona fide.” You should speak with an attorney who can advise you about the specifics of the law in this rapidly changing area.
The foregoing is to be used as a guideline only and is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship. You should consult with an attorney regarding the specific facts of your case.
© Junilla Sledziewski, 2012
As a condominium owner living in a community controlled by an association, you may sometimes feel frustration or even anger at the way the board of directors or management company treats you. Associations are powerful, often operate arbitrarily, and may act beyond their rights to harass and threaten residents. However, that does not mean you are helpless or do not have rights of your own. Read on for five of the most important statutory rights that many condo owners do not know they have. There are many more that are not part of this article. If you feel any of your rights have been violated, you should contact an attorney immediately.
- You have the right to at least 48 hours notice of board and committee meetings. The notice must be posted in an obvious place on the association’s property. However, if there is a valid emergency, the board or committee may meet without notice.
- You are permitted to attend all board and committee meetings. This includes the right to speak about items that are designated on the agenda and tape record or videotape the meeting. There is an exception for meetings with the association’s attorney in very specific circumstances.
- If the board is considering a special assessment or changes to rules affecting condominium use, notice must be given at least 14 days before the meeting. This is to ensure all residents have the opportunity to respond regarding any such proposed change. Notice must be by mail, electronically, or personal delivery, and must also be posted on the property. Continue Reading