The 4-3 rule: 4 Things You Can Say No to And 3 Things You Have to Allow
As a landlord, you have duties and responsibilities to follow for your properties and your tenants. You’re required to provide safe housing, give notice before you come to the property, and follow eviction requirements.
It’s common to focus on all the things you have to do, but there are certain things you don’t have to let your tenants do.
What You Can Say No To
No smoking allowed.
Put it in the lease agreement and make sure your tenants understand that smoking isn’t allowed in your property. You may allow it outside the home or within a certain distance from the front door - 25 feet or so. If you catch your tenants smoking in your rental, it could be a violation of the lease agreement.
No pets allowed.
State it clearly and upfront and make sure it’s in the lease if you won’t allow pets. If you decide to change your mind, stay fair and make the change for all tenants, even if you require an additional pet deposit or monthly pet fee.
No illegal drugs.
Legalized recreational marijuana hasn’t arrived in Florida yet like in Colorado. When it does, you may have to make changes based on what’s legal, but for right now, you can clearly state no illegal drugs. Catching your tenant violating this rule is cause for terminating the lease.
When you say “no roommates” what you want to do is require that all adults living in the property be listed on the lease agreement and go through the application process. “No roommates” usually means that no one is allowed to move in after the lease has been signed without a new credit application and application fee.
What You Have to Allow
Most of the things you’re required to allow your tenants to do or have are required under Fair Housing laws, especially accessibility requirements for tenants with disabilities. Make sure you know what tenants are allowed to do before you find yourself on the wrong side of the law.
You must allow service animals.
Even if you have a strict “no pet” policy, you must allow tenants with disabilities to bring their service animals into the rental. You cannot charge a pet deposit or higher monthly fee for the animal. You can, however, request written verification that the tenant needs a service animal and the animal’s medical records. A tenant is still liable for any damage their service animal does to your property.
You can allow changes to the property.
Ramps for tenants in wheelchairs are most common, but if a tenant has a disability and requests a change to make their home more accessible, you must allow it or allow the tenant to break the lease with no penalty (this doesn’t include any security deposit restrictions for potential damage). You can oversee the changes yourself or allow the tenant to take care of it with your final approval of contractor or cost. Either way, the changes must be made in a timely manner.
You may have to allow live-in aides.
If a tenant requires a live-in aide for their disability, this aide will not fall under any “no roommate” rule you have in place. This is another accommodation your tenant needs. Damages caused by the aide will still be the tenant’s responsibility as it is with a service animal.
As a landlord it is your responsibility to know and keep up with Fair Housing laws, accessibility requirements, and your duties and responsibilities under the law. It may seem like you have to allow a tenant to do anything they want, but this isn’t true. You are, however, not allowed to discriminate against disabled tenants who need reasonable accommodations because they’re entitled to safe housing just like anyone else.
If trying to remember what’s allowed and what isn’t gives you a headache or keeps you up at night, you need to work with a property management team who can do the worrying for you. Here at ERA American Real Estate, we’re trained to know the requirements for landlords and tenants, we keep up with changes to local, state, and federal laws, and we will make sure that you stay on the right side of the law no matter who rents your property.