Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Renting And Associations

Andrew thinks that he may have found a tenant for The Downtown Townhouse, and he's meeting with him this evening to fill out our background check form. Immediately, a whole list of reminders began tumbling out of my mouth, especially since The Downtown Townhouse is part of an home owners' association which involves additional approval procedures.

Here are a few things I suggest.

When leasing a property that is part of a homeowner's association, keep in mind:

1. Have your candidate fill out the association's approval forms as soon as possible. In Florida, by law, they have up to thirty days to approve your potential tenant. It shouldn't take that long, but I have seen associations use the entire time period. Also, there may be an interview process. Often there are special provisions in the community's by-laws which stipulate that only the president of the association or someone who is on the board may conduct the interview(s), and sometimes, only in person. This represents an obstacle if that person is on vacation or only lives in the community part-time. Also, take into account that there is usually a separate fee (commonly $100 in our neck of the woods) for their approval process. It may sound forward, but I always bring a lease, association application, and my own background check and approval forms to each and every showing. That way, when someone wants to sign a lease we can get the process started immediately. There's no point moving forward if they can't get approved, anyway.

2. Always get copies of two forms of picture identification. This is usually required by your association, but it should be something you do, regardless.

3. Make sure to have a bank account number, place of employment, social security number and vehicle identification number. Your association should require these, but if not make sure you get them anyway. In the event that you need to collect unpaid rent or damages, this information will help you track them down through the court system, though it's no guarantee. Still, you can weed out many undesirable tenants just by asking for this information.

4. Make sure that you have everyone over the age of eighteen that will be occupying the property listed on the lease. They each need to fill out separate applications, as well (and there may or may not be separate application fees). This is important to the association, because they often have particular rules regarding guests, or anyone not listed on the lease that is over eighteen and staying overnight. For instance, if your tenant intends on having her mother live with her throughout the summer, it's something your association may need to be aware of if they offer valet services or special parking.

5. Ask exactly what pets and children will be occupying the premises. Include this information on your lease (which the association should always get a copy of). For example, if your county or association has a law stating that no more than two people may occupy a one bedroom condominium, and your tenant and his wife are pregnant, you have a problem. I have seen this happen, and the association evicted them. Always make sure your tenants abide by all of the pet and occupancy restrictions.

*I am not an attorney. For legal advice, please seek qualified legal counsel.*

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