IMPORTANT: If you do not understand something in the lease or the lease does not include something the landlord agreed to provide, don’t sign it!!! The lease is legally binding and most judges will not accept the following statement, “Your Honor, I did not understand what that clause meant.”
Move-in Condition and Services:
The lease is negotiable. The parties to the lease can negotiate almost anything. Whether the landlord will agree to change carpets, paint the house, provide cable, etc. is all dependent on how badly the landlord wants to rent the property to you. It is reasonable to expect the property to be in good and clean condition with all items working at the time of move in. If you are getting ready to move in and there are items that are not working or there are other problems, the tenant should take pictures before moving in and providing notice to the landlord that the items need to be repaired or you will terminate the lease and return possession.
The parties can agree that the tenant will be responsible for all maintenance in the unit. They can also split responsibility for various items. Sometimes the landlord agrees to maintain the exterior of the property so that they can avoid problems with the home-owners association by paying a service to cut the lawn. Most maintenance problems that are material to the lease terms can be addressed by providing the landlord with seven days written notice that the item must be repaired or you will, choose one: 1) withhold rent until repaired; 2) terminate the lease and move out; or 3) make repairs and deduct repair cost from the rent.
A residential lease is generally for one-year or less. The parties can agree to a lease term greater than one year but the lease must then comply with the real property conveyance statute, which requires, among other things, the owners signature and the signatures of two witnesses to the transaction. Quite often the landlord does not comply with the necessary terms for a lease greater than one year and the lease is unenforceable. It is better practice for the landlord to provide a one year lease with an automatic renewal clause.
About the Author
This blog is the creation of Central Florida attorney Dennis Chen. He has been practicing law in Florida for over ten years and is also admitted to practice law in Texas. He has handled evictions for both commercial & residential landlords and also has extensive experience representing tenants. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or in his Office - Orlando, FL