As a landlord, sometimes you must make the unpleasant decision to evict a problem tenant. This could be for a variety of reasons: not paying rent, violating the terms of your lease, or violating the law in some way. The state of Florida has a specific course of action for evicting problem tenants, which you should know to make the already uncomfortable process go as smoothly as possible.
Read on to learn more about when eviction becomes necessary, where to begin, and what your rights are as the property owner.
Common Reasons for Eviction
You may not like your tenant personally, but that alone is not a good enough reason to evict them. Eviction is serious, so if there are any complications, make sure you take measures to correct the problem first. Eviction should be the last resort, only when your tenant is completely non-compliant.
Here are some valid reasons may landlords go with eviction:
The Tenant Isn’t Paying Rent
Every now and then, a situation comes up where a tenant is unable to make the monthly rent or may need extra time to get the money. Landlords all over the country dealt with this issue after Covid-19, which caused many people to lose their livelihoods. Hopefully, your tenant will maintain good communication with you if this is their situation, and you can work out a compromise. But other times, the rent due date will come and go, and attempts at communication to get your money are unanswered.
If a significant amount of time has passed and eviction becomes your last option, you must let your tenant know with a three-day notice. That gives them three business days to either pay the money they owe or vacate the property. If you do receive the rent money within that time frame, you must halt the eviction proceedings. If less than the full amount is offered, you should not accept it so that you are legally able to continue with the eviction process.
The Tenant Broke the Lease
Rent contracts come with a set of rules to abide by as long as the tenant is living on your property. Those rules could include no pets, no long-term visitors, or other illegal activities. If you have evidence of your tenant violating these rules that they agreed to when they signed the contract, you can give the tenant a seven-day notice to either correct the problem or leave. If the problem is resolved, you must stop the eviction process.
Evicting A Tenant 101
There are several steps you will need to take to evict a problem tenant. Hopefully you won’t need to use all of them, but this is what you should know:
Send A Written Notice
If you’re intending to evict a tenant, you can post a 3 day (or 7 day notice, if applicable)notice on the tenant’s door or give the notice to them personally. You will need a copy of this notice if you need to sue the tenant in order to evict the tenant.
Wait for A Response
If the tenant does not pay the rent or comply, you will need to proceed to bring an eviction proceeding in Court and the tenant has up to five days to respond. This period does not include weekends or holidays, and the tenant must respond in writing or through a lawyer. If you receive a response, it must be filed with a Clerk of Court, the same way you field your initial complaint. A non-responsive tenant may receive a default ruling against them if the case goes to court.
Court as A Last Resort
If the five-day period comes and goes without response, you may need to go to court for a hearing. All that’s required of you is to show up with documented proof of your grounds for eviction as well as the eviction notice. The documented proof could be a copy of the lease with the terms that were violated, as well as photographs of property damage, etc. A judge will make a decision during this hearing. If the tenant doesn’t show up, the judge will automatically rule in your favor.
Evicting A Problem Tenant in South Florida
Eviction can be a rough process for everyone involved. Fortunately, the experienced real estate attorneys at Handin Law can help. For questions about our legal services, or to schedule a legal consultation, call us today at 954-796-9600.