Protecting Your Rental Property by Evicting a Tenant. By: Carol Goldberg
Unfortunately, property owners may find themselves in the situation where they need to evict their tenant. An eviction is when a Landlord looks to terminate an agreement due to non payment of rent or non compliance with the terms of a lease. The collection for damages involves additional requirements which may be raised in the original eviction, or can proceed separately in another lawsuit.
Do you own property and rent or lease it out to a tenant? Here are some frequently asked questions and answers that may help you in moving forward.
Q: Do I need a contract?
A: You need to have a lease if you want to be protected legally in the event of non-payment, lawsuits, accidents, etc. Frequently we get cases where no contract was made because a landlord was renting to a friend or family member or they simply “liked” the person and wanted to be “nice”. These people have the hardest time and frequently do not recover lost, damaged, or late funds. It’s also important for tenants to have a lease as it will govern how they can recover their security deposit, know who is responsible for various maintenance or other rights regarding the tenancy.
Q: I’m curious to see what my tenant is doing and want to enter the property, can I just go in?
A: While there are emergency exceptions (suspicion of a gas leak, etc), generally the answer is not without notice. A proper lease will include various provisions regarding what will constitute proper notice for both the landlord and the tenant.
Q: I don’t like my tenant and want to change the lease agreement, can I do that mid-term?
A: Again, generally, the answer is no. A lease is good until the term of the lease is up. However, there are situations where an addendum to the lease makes sense and the parties will both agree to same.
Q: I want to increase the rent in the middle of a contract to cover unforeseen costs, can I do that?
A: Don’t do it! There are many laws protecting your renter from random increases. Unless specified in your contract(another reason to have one!) or by a ruling municipality, you can not increase rent mid-term and without proper notification to your tenant.
Q: I’m worried this potential renter is too old and want to ask them how their medical standing is so I can make the lease a legitimate length, can I ask them about that?
A: NO! It is not permitted to ask anyone about their medical history, age, race, sexual orientation, disability or any other question that could show discrimination.
Q: The renter seems to have something broken that they complain about every other week. Do I need to repair all of them?
A: A proper lease will govern who is in charge of which repairs. Generally, the landlord is responsible for the repairs of vital fixtures such as air conditioning and the stove. However, each lease is different and there may be a basis to exclude such items such as if the tenant has brought his/her own fridge to the unit, then he/she would be responsible for its maintenance. It is important as a landlord to be sure to be in compliance with building codes and to keep common areas clean and safe.
Q: How soon can I evict my tenant?
A: In Florida you have to post a notice that must state the tenant has 3 days to pay rent or move out of the unit or you will terminate the tenancy. If the renter does not pay rent or move out within those 3 days, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.
Have more questions about your rights? Call us today!
When a Landlord needs to enforce their rights under a Rental Lease, an experienced attorney is a prudent choice. The law in this area can be both intimidating and confusing and one small error can render one unable to enforce one’s rights.
Both the Landlord’s individual lease and the Florida Statutes control Landlord/Tenant cases. There are strict Florida laws that Landlords must comply with to avoid legal liabilities and penalties when dealing with a tenant. For example, Florida law states that a Landlord cannot simply change the locks, turn off utilities or remove a tenant’s personal property to get him/her to vacate the rental property.
For an eviction, there are Landlord/Tenant rules that set forth how an eviction takes place, where it can be filed and when it can occur. The Landlord has rights and responsibilities. The Tenant also has rights and responsibilities. Here is an example of a few of the rights and responsibilities of the Landlord as a property owner:
- Receive Rent
- Re-entry to Property
- Return of the Premises (without damage other than normal wear and tear)
- Maintenance of Property
- Code Compliance
- Clean and Safe Common Areas
- Functional Water and Heat
- Here is an example of a few of the rights and responsibilities of the Tenant as a property as a renter:
- Fair Treatment
- Peaceful Use and Enjoyment of Property
- Habitable Residence
- Maintain property
- No Unreasonable Disturbance of Neighbors
- Pay Rent When Due
There are many rules in the Landlord/Tenant eviction process that can lead to questions, such as: Do you need a 3 day Notice or a 7 day Notice? Do you need the Sheriff’s Office to assist in the eviction? How do you give the notice and where can you post it? Can the tenant pay in to the registry of the court?
The legal options for the tenant will differ with regard to a 3 day or 7 day notice to leave the property and this will shape your complaint. Finally, the Court will issue a final judgment and if required, a writ of possession. This allows the Landlord to gain the property back. After the final judgment, the Landlord will need to decide whether or not to seek a writ of possession and whether or not further legal action against the Tenant is warranted.
If you are a landlord seeking to evict or a tenant concerned that an eviction is approaching, contact the experiences attorneys at the Quattro Firm. We will help you to know your rights in any landlord tenant situation, including your representation through an eviction. We can schedule a phone or office appointment for you. Please give us a call or email us. We look forward to working with you.