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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Default What to Do if Your Landlord Disappears and Leaves No Address for Rent

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: Florida

    My husband and I just rented a lovely, furnished house from a lady who inherited the home when her mother passed away. Wary of scams, we made sure we met the owner and physically toured the house. As an added measure of protection, we stopped by unannounced to drop off the deposit, just to make sure the owner did indeed live there. Satisfied that everything was legit, we signed a lease, paid July rent up front, and received a copy of the key.

    Since then, a few things have happened to make us suspicious. First, the owner remained unsure about exactly where she was moving. She left her contact information as TBD on the lease and assured us that the info would be waiting on the dining room table when we moved in. We arrived July 1 to find that the owner had left everything *but* contact information. Other than her clothes and two pets, all of her personal effects remained in the house. Every drawer, every cabinet was full of items ranging from leftover food to old family photos to two decades worth of tax returns. It made me very uncomfortable, but Im mostly concerned about the fact that we have now been here two weeks and still have no address for sending the August rent, which is due on the 1st.

    Feeling uneasy, we did what we should have initially done and checked the website for the county property assessor. According to the site, the lady who leased us the house sold the property in May for the strangely low sum of $12,000, or about one-tenth the market value.

    What is all this likely to mean for us and what should our next steps be? Should we just wait to see if we hear from her between now and the due date for rent, or should we try to contact someone in her family or bypass her altogether and contact the man who is listed as the new owner? Because the house is on a golf course, there is also an HOA...would it be worth contacting them to see if they know anything?

  2. #2
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    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: What to Do if Your Landlord Disappears and Leaves No Address for Rent

    Quote Quoting Moshi
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    uneasy, we did what we should have initially done and checked the website for the county property assessor. According to the site, the lady who leased us the house sold the property in May for the strangely low sum of $12,000, or about one-tenth the market value.
    Have you contacted the owners of record about the situation? If you leased the home from somebody who no longer owns it, you need to confirm that she was authorized to act on behalf of the new owners.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    17,924

    Default Re: What to Do if Your Landlord Disappears and Leaves No Address for Rent

    Quote Quoting Moshi
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    Feeling uneasy, we did what we should have initially done and checked the website for the county property assessor. According to the site, the lady who leased us the house sold the property in May for the strangely low sum of $12,000, or about one-tenth the market value.
    That record should tell you the name and address of whoever bought the house.

    Quote Quoting Moshi
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    What is all this likely to mean for us and what should our next steps be? Should we just wait to see if we hear from her between now and the due date for rent, or should we try to contact someone in her family or bypass her altogether and contact the man who is listed as the new owner?
    Contact the new owner ASAP.

    Impossible to predict the outcome.

    The former owner scammed you and has absconded with your money. I suggest you file a police report about that.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,867

    Default Re: What to Do if Your Landlord Disappears and Leaves No Address for Rent

    I'm curious who you actually contacted in your search. It appears Florida does not have a tax assessors office and I'm not certain but i found nothing stating a sale price is recorded and published by the appraisers office.

    Deeds, which require a sale price to be either included in the deed or on a seperate attachment when submitting a deed for recording, are handled by the county clerk.

    The person on the tax records is not necessarily the legal owner of the property.


    What i would do, to start, is to search the county clerks records of deeds. Unless there is a deed recorded in the name of your landlord, she wasn't the owner of the property. If you do not find a deed in your landlords name, it is likely you have been scammed.

    Then I would search death records of local publications or obituaries for the name of the decedent to attempt to determine if the landlord is in fact a daughter of the decedent.


    I am curious; have you seen evidence in the miscellaneous materials left in the home of the landlord being related to the decedent?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: What to Do if Your Landlord Disappears and Leaves No Address for Rent

    Each county has a property appraiser (same as assessor) where property ownership can be searched by address.

    The ownership information may be current for a sale that took place in May but it always pays to check the deed records to make sure.

  6. #6
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: What to Do if Your Landlord Disappears and Leaves No Address for Rent

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    Each county has a property appraiser (same as assessor) where property ownership can be searched by address.

    The ownership information may be current for a sale that took place in May but it always pays to check the deed records to make sure.
    I can tell you at least one way the owner of the property will not be the name found. If you record the death certificate (with the county clerks office, in association with a given deed) the name on the tax appraisers site will be changed.


    while it is semantics in our discussion (you and me) I would expect a person in Florida to use the proper term for the office they contacted. In my state we have assessors so I would typically use assessor when speaking of issues in my state and maybe mistakenly use it when speaking of another state. If I lived in a state that does not have an assessors office but an appraisers office I would tend to use the term appraiser especially when speaking of issues in that state. The op using the term assessor suggests they are not in fact in Florida or at best are recently new residents of Florida. I asked for clarification simply so where they obtained the information stated would be clear.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: What to Do if Your Landlord Disappears and Leaves No Address for Rent

    Quote Quoting jk
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    while it is semantics in our discussion (you and me) I would expect a person in Florida to use the proper term for the office they contacted. In my state we have assessors so I would typically use assessor when speaking of issues in my state and maybe mistakenly use it when speaking of another state. If I lived in a state that does not have an assessors office but an appraisers office I would tend to use the term appraiser especially when speaking of issues in that state. The op using the term assessor suggests they are not in fact in Florida or at best are recently new residents of Florida.
    I would go along with that (it's assessor in my state, too) for the must part but I might cut a Florida resident a little slack because Florida residents are too often recent transplants from other states or part time residents in Florida with homes in other states and it is an easy slip to make.

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