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Know the Law/Users/adamp/Desktop/MAR_IMGS/KnowTheLaw

Property Management Matters
There’s more to property management than finding tenants, collecting rent and serving as a liaison between the landlord and the tenant. Here, in part one of a two-part series, are some facts that every property manager needs to know.

License Requirements
Whether a property manager requires a real estate license depends on his or her activities in that role. Section 475.01, Florida Statutes, defines broker as “…someone who for another, and for valuable compensation...rents, or offers, attempts or agrees to ... negotiate the … rental of… any real property… or who advertises or holds out to the public … that she or he is in engaged in the business of … leasing, or renting … real property … or who takes any part in the procuring of … lessors, or lessees… .”

Based on this definition, anyone who wants to advertise or offer for lease, negotiate the lease, and engage in the business of leasing must have a real estate license. If the property manager, for another and for valuable consideration, is going to procure the buyer, advertise the property for rental, or negotiate the rental, then a real estate license is required. All real estate activity is to be handled through the real estate company and broker.

Managing Money
While security deposits and advanced rents must be kept according to Florida Statute 83.49, they don’t need to be kept by the property manager. The property manager may ask that the security deposit and advanced rents be paid directly to the landlord, who may then hold them in accordance with Florida Statute 83.49. 

Lease Preparation
Log on to the Florida Association of Realtor®’s (FAR) Web site, and use the leases posted there. They are the only leases approved by the Supreme Court of Florida for use by real estate licensees, and the court has determined that licensees may only fill in the blanks on these leases and may not amend, make changes to, or have addendums to the approved leases. Use of any other lease or any changes or addendums to said lease are considered by the Supreme Court as the unlicensed practice of law, which is a third degree felony. The parties may use whatever lease they see fit provided that they enter into it without the assistance of a licensed real estate professional. However, an attorney may prepare it.

Verbal Leases are OK
Verbal leases that don’t exceed a year are also enforceable in Florida. But, of course, it’s advisable to have leases in writing to prove the terms of the lease.

No Automatic Renewals
If a lease expires but the tenant stays and continues to pay rent and the landlord continues to accept the rent, that doesn’t necessarily mean the lease has been automatically renewed. A lease isn’t automatically renewed unless automatic renewal is a provision of the original lease. Moreover, if a lease expires, the tenant remains in place and the landlord continues to accept rent, a periodic rental is created.  Section 83.46(2), Florida Statutes, states that the duration of a tenancy is determined by the periods for which the rent is payable. For example, if a tenant pays weekly, then a week-to-week tenancy is created, if the tenant pays monthly, a month-to-month tenancy is created.

Terminating Tenancies
If there is a month-to-month tenancy and either the landlord or the tenant wants to terminate the tenancy, either party may terminate the tenancy by providing the other with written notification of their intention to do so at least 15 days prior to the end of a rental period.  For termination of tenancies without a specific duration other than month-to-month tenancies, see Section 83.57, Florida Statutes, for the length of time required for notification of termination.   

Have questions? Call FAR’s Legal Hotline at (407) 438-1409, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to speak with attorneys. Please have your real estate license number available when you call.