Owning a rental property in Jacksonville can be a great source of cash flow and future equity appreciation.
In fact, data shows that the rental market is booming.
However, it’s one that comes with tons of responsibilities. Being a landlord is so much more than getting a check in the mail every month.
To have a successful rental business in Jacksonville, FL, you need to have a solid rental contract that covers the particulars of your operation.
A solid lease agreement will not only protect you and your assets but will also protect your tenants.
Even if all you want is a simple rental agreement between you and your tenant, there are some important terms that you shouldn’t leave out.
Important Terms to Include In Your Jacksonville Lease or Rental Agreement
1. All the Tenants’ Complete Names
Seems pretty obvious, right?
But you’d be surprised at the number of landlords that forget to include all their adult tenants’ names in their rental agreements.
Doing this helps make each tenant responsible for respecting all of the rental terms.
It gives you the right to ask rent from any of the tenants listed should it become late. It also gives you grounds to evict all the tenants should any violate the rental agreement.
When drafting this term, remember to include both members of a married or unmarried couple.
2. Occupancy Limits
Defining the occupancy limit of your rental unit is key. The last thing you want is an unqualified person (or persons) living in your property.
You don’t screen your prospective tenants for nothing.
You should clearly specify that the home is the residence of only the tenants that have signed a lease with you.
Ensure that you get the names of all the adult tenants as well as their children.
With this term, it means that you can evict anyone who sublets your rental property without your permission.
Good examples include relatives, friends or significant others who are there for extended periods of time.
3. The Term of the Tenancy
Defining the term of tenancy in your rental agreement is also very important.
Otherwise, you could find your agreement being defined by the common law of your state. And, oftentimes, those terms tend to be unfavorable.
Your term of a tenancy can either be fixed or run month-to-month:
A month-to-month tenancy is also called a rental agreement.
Rental agreements usually run from month-to-month and self-renew unless it’s terminated by either party.
A fixed term lease is also referred to as a lease agreement.
Leases, on the other hand, have a specific beginning and expiration date.
Leases typically last a year.
However, Florida law provides for early lease termination under specific circumstances. For instance, if the tenant is a serviceman and has received a change of station orders.
Your Jacksonville rental agreement also needs to be clear on all matters regarding rent.
Remember to cover details such as:
- The amount of rent due at the end of every month.
- When it’s due. This is usually on the first of every month.
- The amount of grace period, if applicable.
- How your tenants should pay the rent.
- Acceptable payment methods.
- The amount of late fee and when it comes into effect.
- Penalties for bounced checks.
5. Security Deposits
Security deposits are usually a point of friction between landlords and tenants.
A tenant may disagree with the landlord on what is to be deducted from their security deposit. Eventually, the case can even end up in a small claims court.
Being clear on all the details involving security deposits will help avoid confusion and legal hassles with tenants.
Here are some things to include:
- The amount of security deposit. Most states have a limit on the amount a landlord can ask as a security deposit. Florida, however, doesn’t have one.
- The use of the deposit. For instance, for what type of damage repair.
- Be specific about when and how you’ll return the deposit.
6. Entry to Rental Property
This means that your Jacksonville tenant is entitled to:
- Use of common areas for reasonable and lawful purposes
- Exclusive use of their rental unit (unless you are permitted to enter by law)
- Freedom from unreasonable disturbances
- Reasonable privacy
Doing any of the following things may constitute a breach of this fundamental right your tenant enjoys under the law:
- Forcing your tenant to sign an agreement that limits their rights.
- Refusing to make repairs that are needed for their safety.
- Preventing the tenant from having guests visit under reasonable circumstances.
- Refusing the tenant access to common areas of the residential premises.
- Entering the rental unit without permission or proper notice.
- Entering the rental unit too frequently.
- Intimidating or harassing your tenant.
- Unreasonable and ongoing noise or second-hand smoke.
Still, Florida law gives you a legal right to access the property, albeit for specific purposes.
Such purposes include to make repairs, to inspect the property, and/or to show the property to prospective tenants.
Before accessing the property, you need to give your tenant adequate notice.
Under Florida law, this needs to be at least 12 hours of your intended entry. It goes without saying that the timing should be reasonable, too.
7. Pet Policy
Will you allow the tenants to have pets?
If you do, ensure that you include any special restrictions you may have in your pet policy.
For example, the size, type, and the number of pets you’ll allow.
If you choose to have a “no pet” policy”, make sure that you include an explicit clause prohibiting it.
8. Maintenance and Repairs
Both you and your tenant have responsibilities to maintain the premises.
It’s important to spell everything out to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion.
There is no doubt that being a landlord in Jacksonville can be a rewarding and lucrative endeavor.
As long as your lease inlcudes all of these must-have lease terms, the process will go as smoothly as possible.