Florida is considered to be one of the best places to live in. As a result, the real estate industry in Tampa, Florida is thriving. This translates to there being a lot of landlords and tenants as well as homeowners in the state.
Florida’s government makes it easy for both landlords and tenants to know what to expect from one another with the laws they’ve put into place.
Here are some of the laws to update your legal knowledge and to protect yourself from making a costly mistake and putting yourself on the wrong side of the law.
Fair Housing Act
To protect tenants living in Tampa, Florida, the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968. It prohibits discrimination of tenants based on seven protected classes:
• Race – a landlord cannot ban a tenant from renting due to ethnicity or facial characteristics.
• Color – a landlord cannot judge a prospective tenant based on his or her skin tone.
• National Origin – a landlord is not permitted to limit tenants according to where they come from or where their families originated from. This covers the tenant’s ethnic background.
• Religion – a landlord is not permitted to solely accept tenants who practice the same religion as he or she does. Landlords must be fair to all and respect all kinds of religious and moral beliefs.
• Sex – a landlord cannot disallow people from renting in regard to their masculinity, femininity, or sexual orientation.
• Disability – a landlord is not permitted to turn away a potential renter due to them having a disability.
• Familial Status – a landlord cannot discriminate against tenants who have a child under the age of 18 years old. This law also protects pregnant tenants or those who are still in the process of child adoption.
Barring these seven classes, Tampa, Florida does not include any other classes unlike some other places in the world.
A lease agreement is a binding contract between two parties, the landlord and the tenant. It’s the cornerstone to forge a good relationship between them. In Tampa, the lease agreement can be either written or oral. Suffice to say, most leases are usually written since oral agreements can be subject to misunderstandings. It also makes it difficult to prove in court if there are future conflicts.
A lease should contain the following legal details:
• Name of the landlord and the tenants
• Property description including the full mailing address
• Rental terms containing exact dates
• Rent price and the due date
• Security deposit terms
• Improvements to the property
• Tenant responsibilities
• Signatures of the landlord and the tenants
Florida rental laws are very specific when it comes to terminating a lease and when it can be done. Termination of a lease happens when:
• The landlord or tenant breaks an agreement in the lease. This can refer to negligence by any of the parties involved or not complying with certain policies and responsibilities.
• Under the landlord-tenant laws in Florida, whichever party decides to end the lease, he must hand out a notice to the other. If for some reason, the tenant claims the unit is not fit for inhabiting, he must write the conditions of the matter. The notice should contain the tenant’s decision whether to move out if the problem is not rectified. The landlord is given seven days to comply and address the issue. If there’s no action from the landlord, the tenant has the choice of ending the rental agreement early.
In Tampa, landlords have the right to evict tenants on the following grounds:
• Failure to pay the property rent
• Damage/misuse of the landlord’s or tenant’s property
• Regular, excessive, and unwarranted disturbance
The landlord must serve a written eviction notice to the tenant. A landlord can specify the options of the tenant to pay the rent or move out of their unit. The tenant is then given seven days to comply with whether to leave or fix the matter.
A landlord must never attempt to evict a tenant through sheer force. Only the police authorities can carry out the procedure of removing a tenant from a landlord’s premises. Further, the removal can only be done if the landlord won an eviction case.
According to Tampa, Florida laws, the landlord is responsible for maintaining their premises. He or she is tasked to:
• Meet the requirements of the housing, building, and health codes.
• Ensure that plumbing is in good working condition.
• Provide locks and keys to tenants.
• Make reasonable provisions for the extermination of rats, roaches, ants, wood-destroying organisms, and bedbugs.
• Keep the common areas safe and clean.
• Provide proper garbage disposal or outdoor receptacles.
According to Florida laws, the tenant is responsible for maintaining his premises in Tampa, Florida. He is tasked to:
• Meet the requirements of the housing, building and health codes required from tenants.
• Keep the space he’s renting clean and sanitary.
• Take out garbage from his rented unit in a clean and sanitary procedure.
• Maintain the plumbing fixtures tidy and in good condition.
• Properly use and operate all electrical, heating, air conditioning, and other facilities. This also includes appliances and elevators.
• Avoid destruction, damage or removal of any part of the premises or the property of the landlord. If he has a guest, he’s also responsible for the prevention of his guest from defacing or impairing said parts and property.
• Be responsible for keeping the peace in the neighborhood and must refrain from disturbing other dwellers. If he has a guest, he must likewise encourage the same peaceful conduct.
Security Deposit Laws
In Florida, the requirement of asking for security deposits is widespread. Most of the time, it’s equivalent to a month’s rent. Here are things to keep in mind when handling security deposits.
• Landlords must notify the tenants upon receipt of the security deposit. This must be done in writing within 30 days.
• There’s no limit stated in the Florida landlord-tenant laws regarding the amount a landlord can charge for a tenant’s security deposit.
• Landlords are required to return a tenant’s security deposit when they move out. They have 15 days to do so provided the landlord has no plans to impose a claim on it. Otherwise, they have 30 days to provide a tenant a written notice detailing the reasons for the claim. It must contain a list of the damages and charges.
The Bottom Line
The landlord-tenant laws stated herein are just an overview to start with. It’s best to read more about the topics or to hire a professional property management company to ensure that all legalities of operating a rental property business are covered.