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Top 10 Common Landlord Mistakes and Blunders

By Maria Aguila, Esq.
When I was working as an attorney representing tenants, I noticed landlords making the same mistakes again and again. These mistakes usually, if not always, had costly and negative effects on their business of renting as well as causing undue stress and inconvenience for the tenants.   In addition, such mistakes often gave rise to private claims against the landlord or valid defenses in the eviction process.

The following list below is simply based on personal observations as an attorney in the housing industry and is not meant to be an exhaustive list. I certainly hope it will inspire all landlords to learn the applicable laws and comply with them as well as encourage landlords to treat the business of renting housing as a serious business requiring extensive preparation, education, and the utmost professionalism.

 1. Failure to comply with the Florida Landlord Tenant Act, Chapter 83 Part II of Florida Statutes;

2. Entering the rental property without permission or notice from tenants ;

3. Failing to impose a claim on the security deposit once a tenant vacates the unit and then keeping the security deposit;

4. Giving tenants improper notices regarding collection of rent or regarding curable or non-curable violation of the lease;

5. Not having a written lease agreement or using lease agreements that fail to outline the basic terms of the lease, such as the amount of rent, date rental payments are due or length of the lease;

6. Not treating the rental of the property as a business;

7. Having the wrong attitude regarding or excessive pride of the property, i.e. "It's my property, I can do whatever the hell I want with my property!";

8. Failing to make repairs and conduct simple maintenance until either a code enforcement complaint is filed against you or tenant starts the rent withholding process;

9. Sending tenants notices without opportunity to cure non-material violations, such as cleanliness, parking issues, noise, etcetera; and

10. Filing an eviction action prematurely such as filing the action before the requisite time has passed under the law.

If you find yourself guilty of any of the above, you could find yourself with a code enforcement report against you, subject to a costly lawsuit, or wasting funds on a prematurely filed eviction action. It is highly recommended that you educate yourself by consulti ng an attorney, finding excellent publications regarding the rental of housing as a business and seeking out any educational trainings or seminars about the rental industry.

1  This is the "mother" of mistakes and most behavior described above violates this Act.
2  Unless expressly provided in the lease agreement. For example, your lease may state that landlords, property managers or repair or maintenance staff may enter the unit without written notice for scheduled dates and times or timeframes provided tenants are given a schedule of the dates and times or timeframes and the entry is for reasonable purposes, such as scheduled pest control, maintenance, etcetera. Absent any said provision in the lease agreement, however, Florida Landlord Tenant Act requires notices be provided to tenants. Consult an attorney for more information or review Chapter 83, Florida Statutes.
3  Although landlords and tenants may enter into an oral agreement to rent your property, it is highly recommended that both parties sign a written lease agreement outlining all relevant terms and conditions of the lease.
4  For instance, any one of the described actions above could fall under this category but it is a recurrent theme. Other examples include failing to have operating capital, adequate insurance, or mismanaging rental payments.
5  Assuming, of course, that the landlord did not send out a notice addressing these issues initially or landlord did send a notice that failed to comply with the Florida Landlord Tenant Act. Examples of non-material violations are provided in the Act.

[Note: As for the tenants, tenants need to also understand that renting someone else's property obligates them to comply with the lease agreement and applicable law. Tenants should not rent housing unless and until they fully understand the consequences should they fail to comply with the lease and/or applicable law.]

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