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Deposits When Renting a Condo in Miami, from a private landlord: Everything You Need to Know About

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

Miami is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, attracting millions of visitors every year. However, many people choose to make Miami their permanent residence, which means they need to find a place to live. While some people choose to buy a home, others prefer to rent. If you're looking to rent a condo or apartment in Miami, this article will give you everything you need to know.

Living room in a apartment taken by Anthony Johnson

In this Article:

Renting with a Real Estate Agent

Many landlords in Miami hire real estate agents to list their properties. If you rent a condo with an agent, they will help you find properties that meet your needs, schedule showings, and negotiate with the landlord on your behalf. In Miami, rental search services are typically not at the tenant's expense but the landlord's. They will also help you navigate the rental process, which can be complicated, especially if you're new to Miami. The biggest pro of hiring a real estate agent to help you with your rental search is their access to the MLS. Listing agents typically include showing instructions for lockboxes on the MLS that only real estate professionals can access.

Some brokers have escrow accounts where lease deposits can be held. When you find a condo you like, you must make a good-faith deposit to show the landlord that you're serious about renting. This deposit usually equals one month's rent. It is held in an escrow account until the lease is signed and the association has approved the tenant. If you're renting with an agent, they will handle this process.

Suppose the condo association does not approve the tenant. In that case, the funds will be fully returned to the tenant, no questions asked.


Renting without a Real Estate Agent

Suppose you rent a condo without a real estate agent. In that case, you may still need to deposit the funds in an escrow if the landlord hired a listing agent and their broker holds escrow. When you find a condo you like, the listing agent will provide instructions to do so. It will be handled the same way if you hire a real estate agent.


Renting from a landlord directly

When leasing from a landlord directly, the landlord may require a deposit upfront, and they will deposit the funds themselves. It's essential to ask for a payment receipt and a document stating that you will receive the funds back in full if the association doesn't approve you.

When renting from a private landlord, you must apply to the association in a reasonable amount of time, typically within three business days. This means that you should be prepared to submit your application as soon as possible to ensure enough time to be approved by the association.


It's important to note that the landlord may not require an escrow account for the deposit, as this is a practice used mainly by real estate agents. Instead, they may deposit the funds directly into their account. If this is the case, make sure that you clearly understand the terms of the deposit, including when it will be returned to you and under what circumstances.


What is the point of the deposit?

After the landlord accepts your offer, the move-in funds will be due at lease signing. Typically, the landlord will require an escrow letter showing that you have made a good-faith deposit equal to one month's rent. This deposit is held in an escrow account until the lease is signed.


The escrow account is to protect both you and the landlord. It ensures that the funds are secured before moving forward with the lease and protects you from shady landlords who may take your funds and not move forward with the lease. If the association denies you, you will be returned your funds in full with no penalty.


Waiving the deposit

Sometimes, you may not be required to deposit when renting a condo in Miami. One reason is that the agent's broker has no escrow account. In this case, the deposit may be waived as agents try to keep the funds in a neutral account.

Another reason you may not be required to deposit is if the title and escrow companies charge a fee to hold rental deposits. Agents don't want to add an expense to the tenant, so in this case, the funds will all be due after the condo association has approved the tenant. The tenant must provide the funds through a money order or cashier's check.


While it may be tempting to avoid making a deposit, it's essential to understand the risks involved. Depositing the funds into the landlord's account can become an issue if the landlord refuses to return the funds. This can result in a lengthy legal battle, which can be costly and time-consuming for both the tenant and the landlord.


Conclusion

Renting a condo or apartment in Miami can be a complicated process. It's essential to understand the escrow process, move-in funds, and potential deposit requirements to protect your move-in funds. Renting with a real estate agent is recommended, as they can handle the escrow account. If you're renting without an agent, you must contact a title company specializing in escrow accounts. Overall, it's essential to take the time to understand the rental process and protect your move-in funds to ensure a smooth and stress-free rental experience.

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