Buying A Home In The Keys, And Using It As A Rental

Renting your home out as a seasonal(vacation rental)or long term.
Long-term renters are easy to find as there is a shortage of homes for rent. So, if you want to buy something for retirement or vacation home and rent it out to help your payments-this is typically the easiest way. (Long term rentals are considered to be anything over 6 months, as the tenants don't pay the 11.5% Florida tax)

• Generally long term rentals should be unfurnished.

• Initially we do a credit check before submitting a lease to you, then with your approval of the lease, we collect the first and last months' rent plus a security deposit which is typically a months rental amount. We are very proactive in this area and I assure you the home is handled professionally.

As to utilities- The tenants take the lease to the water, electric, phone, and cable people and have the utilities put in their name and of course they pay their own deposits. Garbage down here is included in your tax bill so there is no garbage bill.

Seasonal rentals. Currently, we can only rent monthly or 28 days, meaning the owner can only rent the home out 12 times per year. This means about 5 months of income-Jan-Feb-Mar and July-August. There are some April and June monthlies.

• As to finding people to rent for the rest of the time! I deal a lot with navy transfers÷they generally need something for 2-3 months while they sell their home and buy another. So if it is the offseason, I try to fill your home up this way. Another way to fill in the gaps is to Companies that come down here. Most of the major government and private building projects are done by outside firms. Their management people will generally want a nicer situation so they will generally rent homes at better than average rates.

• As to what is the best rental situation, that is size, which areas, views, pools, how water and boating accessibility affects rental amounts and the typical rental amounts for both long and short term, plus the fees involved, please contact me. As to extra costs and what is necessary to have a Home as a Rental.

When you rent your home out you need to license it through the County. This costs $25.00 and we handle the paperwork for you. The County and the Tax people want the home licensed so they know where there may be tax dollars coming in. When your home is used as a rental, in effect you are operating the same as a hotel or motel and so come under their safety guidelines.

• Every bedroom and the main living area must have a hardwired smoke detector and there must also be an escape light. This light comes on in case of a power outage-this also must be hardwired. (About $350.00 installed smoke detectors and escape light for a 2/2)

• There also needs to be a professional-quality refillable fire extinguisher that is approved by the fire department (about $55.00). This would be the same as you'd find in a restaurant or hotel room. There needs to be a deadbolt on the door that works from the inside and is a different key than the main door. All of these issues help protect your liability in cases of fire/break-in.

When the home complies with all of the above and we have the signed contract, then it can go into the rental pool.


*Coldwell Banker agrees to manage the home for a period of one year with the contract automatically renewing unless either side gives a 90-day notice.
* Our fee for vacation rentals is 20%---what is really important here are the following points.
• There are no hidden fees such as credit card charges etc.
• We typically send you the money within 2 weeks of receiving it÷we do NOT hold it until the first of each month or split it out each month. We always collect cashiers checks from the renters so when the money is received, it is quickly processed through our main office and sent to you.
• There are no charges for going up on our Web sites÷5 in all.
• There are no charges for the pictures that are taken.
• There are no charges for any specific flyers, brochures or ads that we run on our rental properties.
• Please go to
• We actively and aggressively manage your home. Meaning we get the best customers (qualified) We play by the 2 people per bedroom limit, and we work to keep it filled other than your personal usage
• All of the computers in the 6 Coldwell Banker Schmitt offices throughout the Keys are linked. If a customer inquires about a home, it will show up on the rental agent's computers.
• We have Handymen, Electrical, Plumbing, Landscaping, Pest control, and appliance people that respond when there is an emergency.


This is very simple. You would call the rental manager and have him block out the home when you want to use it. We don't charge a fee for any of that. Generally, you would have us arrange for the home to be cleaned after you leave.

FLORIDA BED TAX Florida charges an 11.5% tax on all hotel, motel, home rentals. We collect the money from the tenant and disperse it to the tax agency.

CLEANING SERVICE The tenants pay this fee which varies based on the size of the home. On average a 2/2 is $100 and a 3/2 is $125.00.

PETS AND SMOKING If the home is no smoking, that is put in the rental file and the tenants are informed before they book the home. If the home allows pets, we collect a pet deposit which is added to the standard security deposit of $500How are emergency repairs handled?
• We have handymen available that can take care of small emergencies or updates, as the owner requires. Since our company manages over 300 rentals, we also have a good working relationship with Plumbing, Electrical, Appliance, and Carpet, Tile people. What about Hurricane preparation?
• In the event of an impending Hurricane, the handyman or someone else can be hired to put up the storm shutters, bring in the lawn and patio furniture, etc for a fee as we have too many homes for us to do them individually. This agreement should be set up in advance by the homeowner and the handyman. We will help you find someone to do this. What makes a good Vacation Rental
• Clean, well-maintained home on a canal or open water.
• Typically one of the bedrooms should have a set of twin beds if the renters are bringing children.
• Good linens and towels and a backup set. This is especially important for monthly renters.
• The washer, dryer, and refrigerator should be newer if possible.
• A good Television hooked up to cable (about $35.00 per month) and a CD or tape stereo system.
• The kitchen must be completely outfitted. A microwave is also very important for renters.
• Patio and/or Lawn-Deck furniture. If there is an upper deck, a table and chairs plus loungers.
• On the waterside, below a set of loungers and chairs. We get a lot of repeats renters÷if the renters have a good experience, they will come back. We see this especially with people that book two to three months a year.


• If you're reading this on my website you have the answer. If not most of our renters come through the Internet and one of our sites.
• All of our sites are linked to Key West or which averages over 500,000 views per month. Basically, if anyone looks at Key West they find our sites.
• The balance comes through National Advertising placed in magazines such as Island Living, Florida Sportsmen, Salt Water Fishing, and Dive magazines as well as regional publications and our own buyer's guide.
• Also, all of our computers are networked meaning if someone is looking for a specific situation such as open water it will show up on the computer immediately as to area, availability and price plus all other details. Who handles the renters?
• All of our offices have a dedicated rental manager whose job is to rent the homes.  In conclusion, there is a lot to discuss rentals and this is used to just get you information regarding the main issues. BUYING RENTAL UNITS-DUPLEX-OR MORE UNITS
• There are Duplexes throughout the lower Keys and a few 3-4 unit complexes. The 3 to 4 units are generally in Key West or Marathon. In looking at the return, generally, it runs around 10% in the Keys÷this includes the large guesthouses. When a return of 14% or more comes up they generally go very quickly.
DUPLEXOn the water generally start at $600,000. Nicer ones (maintained-updated appliances-tile) go for $775,000 and up. A dry lot duplex can start at about $550,000. These generally have the best return percentage.3 TO 4 UNITSGenerally in Key West or Marathon.
• In Key West, these can be good, especially if it's located in Old Town and one or more of the units has a transient license, meaning it can legally rent weekly.
• These types of situations run from about $850,000 and up. In Marathon from about $750,000 and up.MOTELS-MULTIPLE UNITS
• These are generally found in upper keys, Marathon, and of course Key West. The more affordable ones ( one to two million dollars) are generally from Marathon north to Key Largo. See the Commercial section of my site. If there is a specific situation you want please let me know.