Gore-Rabell Real Estate, Gainesville, FL

Frequently Asked Questions about Renting

First-time renters' questions

What exactly is a lease?

   A lease is a legal contract between a landlord (or a management company, such as Gore-Rabell Real Estate) and a tenant. Each party gives up something, and each party gets something in return. The landlord gives up the use of the premises being rented, in exchange for a monthly rent payment. The tenant gives up a specified sum of money, and gets the use of the premises in return.
   These terms, along with other rights and responsibilities, are spelled out in the lease, which is also called a rental agreement or rental contract.

What is a management company?

   It's a real estate company that acts on behalf of the owner of a property to rent it, maintain it, collect the rent, and so on, in return for a fee. In other words, the management company is employed by the owner to act in place of that owner in dealing with the tenant and other businesses and individuals.

I've never rented before and I don't have a credit history, can I still rent?

   Yes, but a landlord or management company may require you to have a co-signer, depending on your financial situation and possibly other considerations.

What is a co-signer?

   It's someone who signs your lease along with you, and although they won't be occupying the unit, they agree to be equally responsible with you for paying the rent and upholding your portion of the rental agreement. It's our policy to require that co-signers have a good credit history. At some point in the future, if you've paid your rent reliably and taken good care of the unit, the co-signer may no longer be required.

I saw a posting by someone wanting to sublease - what is a sublease?

   Sometimes, for whatever reason, a tenant is unable to stay in a unit for the entire term of the lease they signed. When that happens, they need to find someone to take over the remaining portion of their lease. That is called subleasing or subletting. This subject is explained more fully below.

Can I get a rent-to-own house or condo?

   Probably not - this arrangement is only rarely available.

Finding a place to rent

What's the best way to go about finding a place to rent?

   It depends on what's important to you and when you need a place. If you want to be near friends, you should probably ask their landlord about available units. If you want to be in a part of town that's convenient to your school or work, it's a good idea to drive around nearby neighborhoods and contact people who have For Rent signs posted on properties you might be interested in. Even if you don't need a place immediately, they may have something available for later.
   Also check the For Rent classifieds in local newspapers, such as The Gainesville Sun and The Independent Florida Alligator, and online sources, such as craigslist.org and zillow.com.
   We don't recommend that you use a referral agency - some will charge an up-front fee and give you little or nothing in return, and others will only refer you to properties that pay them a commission and ignore everything else that's available. You can probably do better on your own.

I'm interested in one of the units I saw in your newspaper ad or on the website - what do I do?

   It's a good idea to call our office first to make sure the unit hasn't already been rented. If the listing was in a newspaper ad, you'll need to call our office anyway to get the address. We ask that you first drive by and look at the unit from the street or parking lot, then call us back if you're still interested. We'll make an appointment to show you the inside of the unit (we may have to coordinate this with the current tenant). It's our policy to not sign a lease with someone until they've seen the inside of the unit.
   If you have an appointment with us, it's ESSENTIAL that you call us to confirm that you'll show up about an hour before the appointment. If you don't, we'll assume that you aren't going to keep the appointment.

Do you rent to Section 8 tenants?

   Yes, we accept Section 8 tenants from both the Gainesville and Alachua County Housing Authorities. However, not all of our houses and apartments are eligible for Section 8 tenants. If you're in the Section 8 program, please let us know that when you inquire about renting a particular house or apartment.

Can I put my name on a waiting list for the type of place I'm looking for?

   Sorry, but no; we're just not set up to do that.

Your ad has a place that sounds just like what I'm looking for - can you hold it for me until I get a chance to check it out?

   Sorry, but no; we just can't afford to do that - there's no assurance you'd end up renting it, and we might miss out on renting it to someone else. It's important to understand, when you're trying to rent a place, that whoever puts down the required amount of money first almost always gets the unit.

Can I come in and fill out an application to save time while I'm looking?

   Sorry, but no. When we take an application, we use it to perform a credit and background check, which we have to charge you for. That's why we don't take an application until you're ready to begin the process of actually signing a lease.

Signing the lease

I've seen the inside of the unit, and I'm ready to sign the lease - what happens now?

   First, you'll need to be able to pay at least the security deposit and application fee on the spot. You'll need to come into our office and fill out an application with the information needed for the credit/background check. If there are any special concerns about the unit or the lease, we'll need to discuss them and come to an understanding before doing the credit/background check, which only takes a few minutes.
   If you pass the credit/background check, and we both agree on the terms of the lease, we fill in the blanks on the lease form, sign it, fees and deposits are paid, and we give you a copy of the lease. You probably won't actually get the keys to the unit until it's time for you to take possession of it and you've paid your first month's rent.
   If you're renting a unit several months in advance, it's a good idea to check in with us by phone from time to time, just to make sure everything's on track from both sides. (Stuff happens, so better to be safe than sorry.)

What's the purpose of the credit/background check? What are you looking for?

   Each applicant is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but generally we're looking for things that would disqualify you from renting from us.
   In the credit check, we want to know things like whether you've been evicted for non-payment of rent, if you have unpaid utility bills that will prevent your getting utilities turned on, and other reports that may raise red flags. If your only financial difficulties involved non-payment of large medical bills, that probably will not be a disqualification.
   In the background check, we want to consider your history, if any, of arrests and convictions.
   If you have experiences in your past that you think may disqualify you from renting from us, PLEASE say so! We don't want to take the time and have to charge you the expense of running the credit/background check when we can tell you ahead of time what the result will be.

Why are leases typically for one year?

   Partly because it's just the accepted practice, but there are other considerations. Under Florida law, a lease that's shorter than six months may be subject to sales taxes, and most leases longer than a year require a lawyer to be involved in drawing them up.
   Also, because much of Gainesville's rental market is student-oriented, it's common for leases to run from August first through July 31st, to coincide with school calendars. Sometimes a new lease will be set to end on July 31st, even though that might be less than a year away.
   And sometimes a landlord will agree to a lease shorter than a year, but may ask for a somewhat higher rent to be paid in return.

Can I get a month-to-month lease?

   Probably not, unless it's a commercial unit. We simply cannot start a residential lease on a month-to-month basis. Under any circumstances, month-to-month leases of residential units are rare, even for long-time tenants.

What is pro-rated rent?

   Not all leases begin on the first day of a given month. If your lease starts on, say, the 15th of the month, you'll only owe half a month's rent for that first month. In other words, your "daily" rent is calculated and then multiplied by the number of days you'll have the unit in that month.

What does "jointly and severally" mean?

   It's a legal term that appears in some leases that have more than one tenant. It means each tenant is responsible for the terms of the lease as if they were the only tenant on the lease. It's a provision that allows the landlord to hold each individual tenant responsible for the entire rent owed and for all damages caused to the property.

What is the limit on the number of unrelated persons in a home about?

   The City of Gainesville restricts the number of unrelated persons who can share a residence in any area inside the Gainesville city limits that is zoned Single-Family Residential. This law was enacted to reduce noise, traffic and parking problems for the neighbors of rental properties.

Moving in

I've signed the lease - now what?

   You'll need to get utilities (depending on what's included in the lease), and possibly cable TV, Internet, and phone services. You need to check with us before signing up for satellite TV services, as most owners won't allow satellite dishes on any structures on their property. It's wise to sign up for these services as soon as possible after signing the lease. You'll probably need to take your copy of the lease with you to their offices when you do sign up.
   Most of our properties use Gainesville Regional Utilities, but there are some exceptions, so be sure to ask, especially if the unit is outside the Gainesville urban area.
   Also, be aware that Gore-Rabell may not be able to help you with getting keys to your unit's mailbox. That's not our fault. Mailboxes are generally considered the property of the US Postal Service, and if the previous tenant didn't turn in mailbox keys when they moved out, you'll need to get new keys from the Postal Service. If that's the case, take your copy of the lease to the main post office on SW 34th Street. They'll charge you a fee for making new keys.
   Also, be sure to ask us if you or your guests need a parking decal, either for your parking lot or for on-street parking. Sometimes, in the rush of getting all the paperwork taken care of, we forget this. If your car or a friend's car gets towed by mistake, even if you're not charged for getting it back, it's still a huge hassle! So remember to ask, even if you don't have a car.
   Finally, don't forget to purchase renter's insurance (see the next item).

Why do I need renter's insurance? Doesn't the owner have insurance?

   Owners purchase insurance policies that cover physical damage to the property itself and liability for damages to others that are the owner's fault. These policies DO NOT cover damages to a tenant or a tenant's possessions that result from any other causes, such as storms, theft, most accidents, or natural disasters.
   We STRONGLY RECOMMEND that all tenants obtain renter's insurance as soon as possible after signing a lease. ALSO BE AWARE that if your unit is next to a lake or creek or in a low-lying area, your insurance policy needs to cover flood damage.

What else do I need to know about moving in?

   When we give you your keys, we'll also give you a move-in checklist. That's for you to take inventory of damages, however minor, to the unit, so you won't be held responsible for them after you've moved out. This inventory is for things that are structural or long-lasting in nature, such as carpet stains, holes in the ceiling, cracks in the wall, and so on - not temporary things that need to be dealt with, such as dripping faucets, cracked windows, or whatever other everyday things that are not in normal working condition.
   Also, if the unit isn't thoroughly cleaned when you first check it out, call us immediately and we'll send the crew that cleaned it back to finish the job, so you don't have to.
   We really do try to fix all those everyday things before you move in, but we can't test everything, and if the previous tenant didn't tell us about certain problems, we wouldn't know about them. So make a separate list of these common repairs that need to be made and get it to us as soon as possible.
   For your own protection, it's a good idea to take a lot of pictures of the unit before you move in, in order to document its initial condition for when it's time to move out. It's hard to argue with a good picture.
   Regarding the actual act of moving in, be aware of and careful about several things: Unfortunately, there are criminals who prey on people moving into apartment complexes, especially. Therefore, be very careful about leaving your doors open or unlocked, leaving valuables in plain sight, and leaving stuff in your vehicles unattended.
   Finally, don't EVER put stuff on your cooking stove as you move in, not even if it's stuff that belongs in the kitchen. Really! Just don't! Every year at move-in time in August, there's a news story about a house or apartment fire caused by this error. The power gets turned on and a burner heats up, something flammable is right over a pilot light, a switch gets bumped - all unintentional, all totally unexpected, and all preventable.

Now that I'm settled in, I've noticed some things that need to be fixed - what do I do?

   PLEASE let us know right away when there's a maintenance issue; we'll assign it to one of our workers that day or early the next day. It's NOT a good idea to wait until you come in to pay your rent at the first of the month to request maintenance - so many tenants do that that sometimes we get swamped with maintenance requests and can't get to them as quickly as we'd like or as tenants would like.

Moving out

My lease is up at the end of the month - what's the procedure for moving out?

   First, remove all your stuff. If there's furniture or other things you've arranged with the new tenants to leave in the house or apartment, let us know that in writing, and place signs on the objects so our maintenance and cleaning crews don't throw them out. Otherwise, they'll assume anything left in the unit has been abandoned.
   After everything's out that's going out, clean the unit (including appliances) as thoroughly as you can. If there's carpet, have it professionally cleaned. Take pictures afterwards.
   Finally, turn in your keys and give us your new address. Don't forget to file a forwarding address with the post office. And don't forget to have your utilities and other services turned off or transferred to your new location.

How soon will I get my security deposit refund?

   That depends on several things. If you leave the unit in at least as good a condition as when it was rented, you can expect to receive a full refund. However, if we have to do any additional cleaning or repair damages, we'll have to charge you for that, either by deducting it from your deposit or sending you a notice if your deposit is not sufficient to cover the charges.
   By law, we're required to send you your deposit refund and/or the written notice within 30 days after we get the unit back.
   However, because of the crunch that occurs at the end of July/beginning of August, we traditionally offer an incentive to tenants to move out before the last few days of July (the exact dates vary from year to year): If you'll move out and turn in your keys early, we'll inspect the unit and give you your refund check right away. If your lease ends July 31st, we'll send you a letter with all the details several weeks ahead of time.


Am I allowed to have roommates in the unit I'm interested in?

   Definitely maybe. Some owners don't want more than one resident in a one-bedroom apartment. Some houses fall under the City of Gainesville's limit on the number of unrelated persons who can reside in a dwelling.
   In general, it's expected that there'll be one person per bedroom, but the only way to find out for sure if more than one person may reside in a given unit is to ask.

Do all the roommates need to be on the lease?

   It's not an absolute requirement, but we do encourage having all the roommates on the lease
   There are, for example, drawbacks to roommates not being on the lease. If they get locked out, we can't give them a key unless they're on the lease (or we have written permission from you to give them a key). We also cannot take maintenance requests from someone not on the lease.

One of our roommates on the lease needs to move out - what do we do?

   This is a common occurrence and is straightforward to deal with:
(1) The person moving out needs to fill out the form for transferring his or her claim on the deposits to the other tenants on the lease.
And (2) the remaining tenants need to fill out the form giving their consent to removing that person from the lease.
   It's up to the tenants yourselves to work out whether the person moving out gets reimbursed for his or her share of the deposits and other impacts of the move-out.

We have a new roommate - can she be added to the lease?

   Yes. This is also a straightforward procedure. We need the form for adding a new tenant to the lease signed by all the current tenants on the lease, and the new roommate needs to come in to our office, fill out the tenant information sheet, and sign the actual lease.
   Sometimes we'll need to run a credit/background check on the new tenant, but it depends on the circumstances.

My roommate isn't paying his share of the rent - can I pay just my share of the rent?

   No - everyone on the lease is equally responsible for the total amount of the rent, as explained above.
   We cannot accept partial rent payments. If the total rent is not paid by a specific deadline, all the tenants in the unit will be held responsible, and if necessary, eviction proceedings will be initiated.


Are pets allowed at the unit I'm interested in?

   We try to put this answer in ads, but you'll just have to ask to be sure. Some properties don't allow pets at all. Some allow cats but not dogs. Some allow cats and/or dogs, but only smaller breeds of dogs. And some allow any size dog, but not certain breeds, due to restrictions on insurance policies.
   In any case, if you do have pets in the unit, there will be a non-refundable, one-time charge for this privilege, and we'll need to attach the pet addendum to your lease and collect the fee.
   Also be aware that if you plan to adopt a dog or cat from a local shelter or pet adoption service, they'll check with your landlord to see if pets are allowed before they approve your adoption request.


What exactly is a sublease?

   Sometimes, for whatever reason, a tenant is unable to stay in a unit for the entire term of the lease they signed. When that happens, they need to find someone to take over the remaining portion of their lease. That is called subleasing or subletting.

I'm sorry, man, but I gotta go - can we just be cool?

   Sorry, dude, but, really, the WORST thing you can do now is to just pack up in the middle of the night and disappear. No matter how bad your situation is, that will only make things worse. The sooner you can let us know you need to get out of your lease, the more we can work with you to minimize the impact.
   The important thing to remember here is that you signed a contract that covered a specific period of time. That obligation doesn't go away just because you do.

I need to get out of my lease before the scheduled ending date - what do I do?

   Assuming you're still in town, you can assist us in finding a new tenant to take over your lease. You need to sign and turn in the form stating your intent to move out as of a certain date or with so many days notice. This allows us to include your unit in our ads and on our available list.
   The next thing you need to do is advertise that you have a house or apartment available for subleasing. If you're a student, place an ad in The Alligator and on bulletin boards around campus. We'll help you figure out what to say, how to show the unit, and so on.
   When we have a prospective tenant, our office needs to approve them (credit check, background check, you know the drill).
   Once we have an acceptable potential tenant, it's up to the two of you to negotiate (and get in writing) the following issues:

  • when the new tenant will move in and become responsible for the unit
  • how much, if any, the new tenant will reimburse you for partial rent, security and other deposits, and the sublet fee
  • since the new tenant is responsible for the old tenant's damage, that is also negotiable
  • how much, if any, the new tenant pays you for furniture and other stuff you're leaving behind
  • how much you pay the new tenant for cleaning or other move-in expenses (Gore-Rabell will not clean or inspect a sublet), and finally,
  • when you will have your stuff out and turn over the keys.
   When the two of you have reached agreement on these issues, the two of you need to come into the office and execute the papers involved. First, there's a sublet fee that needs to be paid. Then you sign over your claim on the unit and your deposits to the new tenant. The new tenant accepts the unit "as-is" and takes over the remainder of your lease.
   At this point, Gore-Rabell's involvement in the process is done - the rest is up to you and the new tenant, as per your agreement (ideally) in writing.

I had to move away from Gainesville and need to get out of my lease - what do I do?

   Technically, this is probably not a sublease situation, unless you manage to find someone to take over your lease (as in the case above), but it has several things in common with a sublease, so that's why it's included here.
   The first thing you need to do is sign and turn in the form stating your intent to move out as of a certain date. This allows us to include your unit in our ads and on our available list. Hopefully, you will have cleaned the unit before moving out, which will save time and money.
   Since you're no longer in the unit, you should also turn in your keys and have your utilities turned off. (Please let us know when the utilities will be turned off, and don't forget to give us your new address.) This will help us get a new tenant in the unit as quickly as possible, which we will definitely be eager to do. (From our perspective, it's much better to have an actual tenant paying the rent.)
   At this point, unlike a sublease, we'll inspect the unit and clean and repair it, as needed.
   Unfortunately, unless and until we can find a new tenant, you're still obligated to pay rent for the remainder of the lease. When the new lease is signed, your responsibility for the unit will have a definite ending date, and we'll send you a detailed statement with your deposit refund, if any, or a notice of the amount you still owe.

First-time renters' questions

Finding a place to rent

Signing the lease

Moving in

Moving out




Current fees

Downloadable forms

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