Is the Security Deposit OK for the Final Month’s Rent?

By Juliana Torres-Mason

Renters transitioning to a new home have a lot on their minds when it comes to closing accounts, changing their addresses and paying new bills. As the costs of the move pile up, they may be tempted to skip paying the last month of rent. After all, can’t the security deposit cover what is owed?

The short answer is a resounding “no,” said real estate attorney Evan Rosenberg with the Florida firm Ritter Chasid

While renters may have paid the cost of a full month’s rent as a security deposit, the purpose of those funds is to cover any damages the renters left behind. The security deposit was rarely if ever intended to be applied to the last rental payment.

(more…)

Renegotiating the Rent Rate

By Nikki Davidson

When tenants prepare to sign a new lease, they may assume the price quoted by a landlord isn’t up for debate. In reality, rent can be just as negotiable as the salary or benefits package that comes with a job offer. A reduction of hundreds of dollars off the monthly payment could be warranted. 

There are several actions potential tenants can take to increase their odds of getting a better deal. However, persuading a landlord to drop the price can be tricky. 

This article will discuss why landlords sometimes grant rent reductions and the best way to ask for a price cut without jeopardizing a potential dream home.

(more…)

Do Tenants Have the Right To Have New Homes Rekeyed?

By Linda Mullins

The excitement and expectation of moving into a new home can sometimes overshadow the many details involved with the process itself. Whether moving into a single-family home or condo rental, a large part of a tenant’s comfort and peace in their new place is resting assured that no previous tenants have access to the home.

Providing this peaceful enjoyment is foundational to landlord responsibilities and includes some safety measures. A chief concern is rekeying the unit when a tenant begins a new lease. While the expectation is for landlords to be diligent about this, situations arise when some may refuse to rekey. This article will provide step-by-step instructions on how to request to have the landlord rekey a rental home, within the law and hopefully without the need for legal action.

Though the laws vary from state to state, tenants will see mention of “locks and keys” within the law code of every state. For instance, the tenant law in Florida says that landlords must make “reasonable provision for locks and keys.” 

(more…)

Avoid Penalties By Ending the Lease the Right Way

By Amanda Razani

When tenants enter into a signed rental contract with a landlord, they’re agreeing to a set of terms that include the rental rate, residential rules and the date when the lease ends. But life happens, and sometimes renters may need to break the lease.

Whether it’s to get married and move in with a spouse, caregiving for a family member or a job relocation, ending a lease early may be the easiest way for a tenant to avoid shelling out money that can be used for other expenses. However, Texas and Florida laws don’t list any of these instances above as exemptions for ending a lease early. 

Cutting the lease short also leaves a landlord scrambling to find a new tenant to avoid loss of income. And more often than not, the tenant will owe penalties and remaining rent. It’s not always this way though. There are some legally recognized exemptions that allow for tenants to break their contract without being penalized, such as active duty; privacy violations; unsafe living environment; physical or mental harm (i.e., stalking, domestic violence, sexual assault). This post will explore legitimate ways to break a lease and what to do when termination is in that gray area. 

(more…)