Top five headache causing mistakes made by landlords

by John Morey | Jun 03, 2015

1.         Not acting quickly when a tenant breaches the lease. Our landlord-tenant attorneys receive countless calls in which a tenant has defaulted, but the landlord has not acted on the default for several months, or sometimes even years. It is important to act quickly once your tenant defaults, regardless of whether the default consists of non-payment of rent, a breach of the lease agreement, or some other type of default. All too often landlords are duped by tenants who promise they will pay “next week” or that they “have money coming in”, even though those tenants never have an actual expectation of paying rent. If you tenant fails to pay rent or otherwise breaches the lease it is important to act quickly and speak with a landlord tenant lawyer if necessary.

2.         Not having a properly drafted lease. The lease agreement should be the foundation of every landlord-tenant relationship. A properly drafted lease should provide for how rent will be paid, when it will be paid, what each party’s responsibilities are, and what happens in the event of a default. A poorly drafted lease can lead to unexpected headaches and unnecessary delays when trying to enforce the agreement against a tenant. For example, Florida law requires that a landlord provide a tenant with a minimum of 3-days’ notice when a tenant defaults in the payment of rent. However, many times a landlord will simply pull a generic lease off the internet without realizing that the lease agreement they are using requires that they provide the tenant with 30 or more days’ notice of a default. In this example a landlord must now provide the tenant with 30-days’ notice before they can even begin the eviction process to remove the non-paying tenant. Our experienced landlord-tenant lawyers can help you draft a lease that is specific to each landlord’s needs as it relates to their rental property.

3.         Not performing a background check. More often than not landlords do not see the need to perform background checks on the people to whom they are renting. This can be particularly troublesome when they end up renting to a tenant who has multiple past evictions. Even more concerning is that fact that often times troublesome tenants are so familiar with the eviction process that they can delay the eviction case for several weeks if not months. At a minimum, it would be wise to look into your local public records to see if your prospective tenant has any past eviction judgments against them.

4.         Not performing a thorough pre-occupancy inspection. It is very important that both the landlord and tenant are involved in the initial walk-through of the rental property. A thorough inspection is of great benefit to both the landlord and the tenant. Having details records of the condition of the property prior to the tenant’s move-in can save a landlord many headaches in the long run when a tenant disputes having caused damaged that was not present when they took possession of the property. When conducting the inspection it may also be helpful to take time-stamped pictures or video of the property’s condition and have the tenant sign off on the inspection report.

5.         Not providing adequate notice of imposing a claim of the deposit. Florida law is very specific when it comes to what a landlord’s obligations are with regard to security deposits. Many times a landlord’s failure to comply with these requirements may result in them having to forfeit the deposit, and later sue in order to recoup money for past rent and/or damages. Providing proper notice of your intent to impose a claim on the security deposit can save a landlord time and unnecessary headaches.