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Preventative measures to avoid landlord, tenant disputes

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

For military members, transitioning to a new area due to a permanent change of station order can be challenging. It takes time to research the new area and a place to live that matches one’s needs. This may result in entering into a lease agreement that a member may not fully understand or agree with.

There are certain measures that one may take in order to help prevent potential disputes.

First, it is important to understand that you do not have to immediately sign the lease, because the lease is a contract. It may be best to take a copy of the lease to the legal office to have an attorney review it and help you understand what the contract entails before it is signed.

Before entering into a lease, ask the landlord for an opportunity to walk through the premises to ensure that the residential property is up to your living standards. In addition, it will give you the opportunity to ask for any changes or repairs necessary to be completed prior to signing.

It is important to document everything by taking pictures and communicate in writing, so if there is ever a dispute, the documentation will help support your position.

One of the most common disputes between a landlord and tenant is the return of a security deposit.

In Florida, upon vacating the premises, the landlord must return the security deposit within 15 days unless the landlord plans on imposing a claim. If the landlord plans on imposing a claim, the landlord will have 30 days to give the tenant a written notice by certified mail specifying the basis of keeping either part or the entire amount of the security deposit.

Tenants have the right to object in writing within 15 days of receiving the notice. The objection letter should include the tenant’s new address and reason for objection.

Prior to vacating the premises, take pictures of the entire property so you have photos of the way the property was before you arrived and after you left.

If the landlord imposes a claim for damages, the landlord must list the dollar amount associated to the damages and include a reason for keeping your security deposit. If the claim is generic, and does not list any specific damages, write an objection, asking for an itemized list and cost associated before you agree.

Tenants are typically not responsible for normal wear and tear; therefore, it is important to make sure you are not paying for the landlord’s responsibilities.           

For further questions, you may contact the legal office at (813) 828-4421 to schedule an appointment for legal assistance. The legal office schedules appointments for legal assistance every Monday morning for that week, and appointments are available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 9:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.