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What are some tips for renters before signing a lease?

Asked by Trulia, San Francisco, CA Tue Mar 6, 2012

What are some things to be aware of? What are some tips when negotiating a lease?

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Agree with Lisa, and also reading the FL Tenant/Landlord Act.

Irina Karan
CDPE - Certified Distressed Property Expert
Beachfront Realty, Inc.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 18, 2012
Get an option too! Why just lease when you have an opportunity to capture some equity. It can be done without adding a penny to what you would pay anyway.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
The biggest advice when signing a lease in todays market is to make sure the owner is in current good standing. Make sure to read the lease in its entirety and look at any landlord/tenant website for information about specific items that matter to you like maintenance, pets, having to show property, repairs. If the property could potentially be marketed due to the status of the landlord - be very specific in the beginning about showings and what you are expecting by the landlord and their agent. Always renew your lease if you want to stay in writing - this will protect you even if the property goes back to the bank.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
You might be able to just look in the tax records if any foreclosure procedures have been filed. Google Hillsborough Tax Appraisers, and there you can do a search for the home you want to rent. Also, if you are military, make sure the lease allows for early terminations if you get assigned somewhere else. Also take pictures of the home prior to occupancy and make a list of the condition of the home.Have the landlord sign it. This will cover you both once you move out and it will protect your deposit.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
That's a very good question. As with any contract, make sure you review it thoroughly and ask questions. Many homeowners go into foreclosure and try to rent out the property while they are not paying the mortgage. Check county records to see if they have been served with a foreclosure notice. A "Lis Pendens" is the formal name for the foreclosure once it has been filed with the court. Use a reputable property management company such as Prudential Tropical Realty. If you choose to work directly with an owner, ask the owner to see their last bank statement to see that they are current on their mortgage. If they don’t want to do that, be suspicious. Explain to them that you have heard about owners renting their property and not paying the mortgage. In today's market they should understand and have no problem showing you. We do that all of the time when we list rental properties as well as properties being sold. Do your homework and you should be fine.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
In Tampa Bay we have many preforeclosure properties so it's crucial for a tenant to verify the Seller is current on his mortgage or the tenant could end up having to allow "showings" to prospective buyers on a short sale. Also if the landlord is insolvent it may be difficult if repairs are needed, too. Also the deposit is supposed to be held in a separate account but some landlords may not and it could be difficult to get the deposit back.

We have a shortage of rentals in Tampa Bay so the best properties get grabbed up within days of being listed so you need to act quickly. There is not much room for negotiation, unless the property is overpriced. To capture a good price, you also need to start the lease as soon as it becomes available so don't waste time looking sooner than about 30 days before you will sign the lease.

All the best,
Alma Kee
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
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