The Short List: Jay Levy’s Tips for Creating a Lease to Protect Against Problem Tenants

by James McClister

Jay Levy

Jay Levy

Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with Jay Levy, principal at Jay Levy Attorneys at Law, who shared his tips for creating a lease to protect against problem tenants. 

6. Before signing a lease with a tenant, make sure you have a sufficient screening process in place utilizing objective legal guidelines that a tenant must meet in order to be approved. If they do not meet these guidelines, then you should move on to find someone else. This is important to insulate the landlord from discrimination and related type complaints.

5. Make sure terms in your lease are specific and unambiguous. Ambiguous language leads to lawsuits and leaves the meaning of the lease up to a judge to decide. A lawsuit to determine the meaning of the lease would result in an unnecessary delay in the removal of a problem tenant.

4. Keep detailed records of anything that pertains to the lease and the landlord/tenant relationship. Documentary evidence, when prepared in the ordinary course of business, is very powerful evidence when used in court.

3. Spell out your guest policy in the lease. This includes how long a guest can stay before he or she needs to be added to the lease.

2. Limit rights to sublet and require that the landlord approve any sub-tenant.

1. Keep an eye on the property to insure that the tenant is in compliance with and not breaching any of the terms of the lease. Put a clause in the lease that allows the landlord the right to access the premises (upon reasonable notice).


Jay M. Levy, a member of The Florida Bar since 1976, practices in state and federal court, at both the trial and appellate levels.  He is Florida Bar board certified in appellate practice, and his practice is dedicated to trial and appellate work involving business law, commercial law, employment law, family law and civil rights matters, and trial assistance to other lawyers.  With 35 years of experience, Mr. Levy has successfully represented hundreds of clients in both jury and non-jury trials obtaining large verdicts while always protecting the rights of his clients.


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