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Florida Renters: Time to Protect Thyself

Posted by Benjamin Dona on Thursday, August 26th, 2010 at 8:08pm.

Florida Renters - Know Your RightsWith all the short sales and foreclosures occurring in the Florida real estate marketplace, renters need to know their rights under the recently passed Distressed Condominium Relief Act. Otherwise, they might just find themselves at odds with their landlord and the units association.

Under the new law that went into effect in June, associations are now allowed to collect rent directly from tenants residing in units that are delinquent on their fees. Refuse to pay heed to the association's demands and you could find yourself facing an eviction notice from the community.

Fortunately for tenants, the law does have some protections including prohibiting landlords from proceeding with eviction or a law suit for the renter paying the association instead of the owner. It also prohibits associations from collecting more money than is owned the association by a delinquent owner. For example, if a tenant owes $1,000 a month for rent and the owner is only behind $500 in maintenance fees, the association may only collect $500 in rent from the tenant.

Should the property proceed to the foreclosure stage, things can get even more complicated for tenants. Knowing your rights under this circumstance is extremely important. As a tenant, you are protected by a 2009 federal law that allows you to stay in the property for 90 days after a foreclosure notice is posted. The only exception to this rule is if property is a single family home and the new owner is actually going to move into the property. In addition, tenants have other right as well including the following:

  • Renters can insist on staying in their units until the end of their leases. Just be certain to have a copy of your lease. The only exception is the single family home rule above.
  • Tenants can require banks and their agents to put all communication in writing.
  • No renters are required to take cash incentives to move out before the law requires.
  • Harassment, such as changing locks without a court order, entering the property without permission or shutting off utilities, is illegal.

The key is knowing your rights as a tenant and making sure you do everything in writing. Seeking legal council is also sound advice if you are uncertain of what to do in any given situation. Doing anything else and you may just put you and your loved ones in an unwanted peril you don't deserve.

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