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Real estate Q&A: Paying tenant not maintaining home

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – July 16, 2015 – Question: We are renting a house to a family that is paying the rent on time, but they're not keeping the property in good condition. We have received noise complaints from the neighbors, and the community association has warned us about parking problems and items left on the front lawn overnight. We have mentioned the problem to the tenants, to no avail. Is there anything we can do? – Suzie

Answer: Yes. Normally, the first step toward resolving this sort of problem is to have a cordial conversation about the issue. Because you already have done this, the next step is a polite email or letter reminding the tenants to maintain the property and live by the association's rules. Talking is great, but never underestimate the power of the pen.

If this does not resolve the issue, you will need to decide whether these problems are worth evicting a paying tenant, or whether you would be better off waiting until the lease expires and then not renewing for another year. If there are only a few months left, it might be a good idea just to grin and bear it.

If you do decide to evict, you will have to follow a strict legal procedure that involves sending the tenants a letter with statutorily specified language telling them that they have seven days to fix the problems or the lease will be terminated.

The letter also must state that if they fix the problem now, but it happens again within a year, the lease will be terminated without further notice.

About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program.

The information and materials in this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in this column is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Copyright © 2015 Sun Sentinel, Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC