Key Items to Include in Your Florida Lease Agreement

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By creating a properly detailed lease agreement you can rest assured that your tenancy will run as smoothly as possible.

A lease agreement stipulates the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and the tenants. Accordingly, it helps minimize the risk of confusion or misunderstanding that either party might have.

Your Jacksonville, Florida lease or rental agreement is thus vital to the success of your rental business.

In addition, a lease or rental agreement is legally binding; meaning, its terms are legally enforceable.

So, what exactly should you include in your Jacksonville, Florida lease or rental agreement? Well, continue reading to find out.

Terms to Include in Florida Lease/Rental Agreement

1. Lease Term

First things first, what is a lease term? Well, a lease term is a set period of time in which the lease agreement is enforceable.

Every Florida rental contract should specify whether it is a rental agreement or a lease agreement.

Rental agreements, also known as month-to-month tenancies, are short-term agreements that usually run anywhere from a day to up to six months. This type of agreement expires and renews every month, if both parties are in accord.

A lease agreement or long-term lease, on the other hand, covers the renting of your property for a long period of time, usually a year. Florida rental laws allow tenants to break a lease for specific reasons only – such as entering active military service. 

Your choice of a rental or lease agreement typically depends on the type of property you wish to run. Do you want long-term tenants or are you looking for more flexibility?

Whichever your option, making sure it’s properly defined is key. The last thing you want is having to deal with a “holdover” tenant.

2. Tenants’ Names

The second thing that your residential Florida lease or rental agreement should state, is the names of all adult tenants living in your property. That includes the names of married and unmarried couples as well.

By having all adult occupants sign the lease, you make them responsible for all the lease terms. This gives you the ability to ask rent from any of the tenants should their cotenants be unable to pay.

Moreover, it gives you the power to evict them from the property should one of them violate the terms of the Florida lease.  

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3. Occupancy Limits

Including this item in your Florida agreement is important for governing who lives in your property. Your agreement should specify that only those who have been qualified to live in your property are allowed to do so.

So, make sure to include a “limit on use and occupancy” clause in your agreement so your lessees know they cannot allow anyone else to live in your unit without your consent. If they violate this clause, you have the right to terminate their tenancy.  

4. Pet Policy

Americans love pets: up to 68% of American households own a pet, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Pet Owners Association.

With such a huge population of pet owners, your prospective tenant pool will surely be larger if you own a pet-friendly property. However, allowing pets into your property isn’t without its share of shortcomings. Perhaps the most obvious one is property damage.

Be that as it may, most of these shortcomings can easily be remedied with a detailed pet policy.

Your pet policy should define things like the breed, type and size of pets allowed. You could also decide to charge an extra security deposit to cater for the potential damage.

Should you choose to not allow pets in your rental property, then make sure your tenant understands that.

5. Early Lease Termination

Sometimes a renter’s circumstance may require them to break a lease early. Florida rental laws allow landlords to offer their renters a lease-breaking fee when signing the agreement. By singing this provision, renters have the option to pay the termination fee if they break the lease early. If they choose not to sign, they are left with having to pay rent until you find a new renter.

If you choose to include this in your agreement, you can charge the tenant a termination fee of up to two months’ rent. You must also require that the tenant gives you 60 days’ notice prior to breaking the Florida lease agreement.

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6. Landlord Entry

Your Jacksonville tenants have a right to the quiet enjoyment of the property. You cannot barge in on them as you like. To access the property, you’ll need to provide adequate notice and have a legitimate reason.

The reason, for example, could be to inspect the property, to respond to a repair and maintenance request, or to show the property to prospective tenants.

The timing, needless to say, also needs to be reasonable. For instance, from 8.00AM to 5.00PM during weekdays, and from 9.00AM to 3.00PM during weekends.

7. Security Deposits & Rent Rates

Security deposits and rent rates are a usually sources of conflicts between landlords and tenants in Jacksonville, Florida. To avoid any conflict, try to include as much detail as possible when outlining these subjects on the Florida agreement.

When it comes to the rent, you want to be clear on things like:

  • Amount of rent
  • When and where rent is due
  • How rent is to be paid
  • The grace period, if applicable
  • The amount of late fees, if applicable
  • What happens when the rent check bounces

By the same token, be clear when it comes to the security deposit on issues like their use, limit and return.

8. Repairs & Maintenance

Clearly setting out both party’s responsibilities on repair and maintenance is the best defense against tenant’s withholding rent.

You should, for instance, state your tenant’s responsibilities in regard to cleanliness and sanitation. You should probably also set out the tenant’s responsibility to pay for any damage resulting from their negligence or carelessness.

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Whether the agreement is longer than five pages or as short as one, handwritten or typed, it needs to cover at least these 8 basic items. If you find the drafting process to be daunting, please consider hiring professional help.