Tenant Evictions for Florida Landlords

Tenant Evictions for Florida Landlords

Tenant EvictionsLandlords need to follow the local and state laws on elections to the letter. Florida has specific laws that balance the rights of landlords to evict someone who isn’t paying their rent or is violating their lease for other reasons – with the rights of tenants. The best strategy is to speak with an experienced Sebastian or Vero Beach lawyer who is current with the relevant rules and procedures for evicting tenants in Indian River County. Generally, landlords cannot use self-help remedies such as changing the locks or taking steps such as cutting off the utilities to make the apartment uninhabitable.

What are the grounds for terminating a lease in Florida?

The rights of a landlord to evict a tenant begin with the lease. Leases should be in writing. The term of the lease should be specific. The grounds for terminating the lease should be clear. Standard grounds include default on the rent, the expiration of the term of the lease (combined with the proper notices not to renew the leases), and violating other terms of the lease. Most leases specifically provide for grounds to end the lease during the term of the lease such as the destruction of property or being a nuisance to the neighbors. Some leases forbid subleases. Some leases also prohibit pets.

In addition to reviewing the lease, landlords need to comply with Florida statute 83-56. This statute generally provides that landlords may seek to terminate a lease for the following grounds (other than nonpayment of rent) which are set forth in Florida statute 83-52:

  • Noncompliance with the building, housing, and health codes.
  • Failure to keep their apartment clean and sanitary – including removing garbage in a clean and sanitary manner.
  • Failure to keep the plumbing fixtures clean and sanitary and in good repair.
  • Destroying or damaging any part of the premises.
  • Not unreasonably disturbing the tenant’s neighbors or breaching the peace.

If a tenant violates any of these conditions, then the landlord’s right to proceed with an eviction depends on whether the violation is “curable.”

Evicting a tenant if the tenant’s violation of his/her duties is Not curable.

Generally, the destruction of property, for example, is considered a non-curable violation. If the noncompliance is not curable or if the noncompliance is a subsequent or continuing noncompliance within the prior year of being given written notice by the landlord of the violation, then:

  • The landlord should deliver a written notice to the tenant.
  • The notice should specify the act(s) of noncompliance.
  • The notice should state the landlord’s intent to terminate the lease because of the noncompliance.

Our experienced eviction lawyers will review the notice to ensure it complies with the statute.

Evicting a tenant if the tenant can cure the noncompliance

If the violations are curable, then Florida law requires that the landlord:

  • Give the tenant a notice stating the conduct that is in noncompliance.
  • Inform the tenant that he/she has seven days to come into compliance.
  • Inform the tenant that failure to comply within seven days will lead to eviction proceedings.
  • Inform the tenant that another act of noncompliance within the next year will lead to eviction proceedings – without a second notice.

Examples of noncompliance that are considered curable include:

  • Having a pet, guest, or vehicle that is not authorized
  • Parking in unauthorized spots
  • Not keeping the premises clean and sanitary

Evicting a tenant for failing to pay the rent

If a tenant doesn’t pay the rent when due, then the landlord should send a written letter demanding the rent. If the tenant fails to pay the rent in three days (not counting the weekend and legal holidays), the landlord can then proceed with an eviction. According to Florida statute 83.56, the letter to the tenant should be in the following form:

You are hereby notified that you are indebted to me in the sum of   dollars for the rent and use of the premises   (address of leased premises, including county)  , Florida, now occupied by you and that I demand payment of the rent or possession of the premises within 3 days (excluding Saturday, Sunday, and legal holidays) from the date of delivery of this notice, to wit: on or before the   day of  ,   (year)  .

What acts constitute a delivery of a written notice?

Delivery generally includes sending the notice by mail, delivering a true copy, or leaving a copy at the tenant’s residence (if the tenant is absent from the premises).

Are there any acts that may be considered a waiver of the right to terminate the lease?

Yes. Generally, a landlord waives the right to evict a tenant if the landlord:

  • Accepts rent money with knowledge of the noncompliance.
  • Accepts performance by the tenant of any other provision of the rental agreement that is at variance with its provisions.
  • Other conditions set forth in the lease.

Generally, the acceptance of partial rent is not considered a waiver provided the landlord:

  • Provides the tenant with a receipt stating the date and amount received and the agreed-upon date and balance of rent due before filing an action for possession
  • Places the amount of partial rent accepted from the tenant in the registry of the court upon filing the action for possession – or
  • Posts a new 3-day notice reflecting the new amount due.

Landlords who wish to terminate a lease must comply with 83.49 Deposit money or advance rent; duty of landlord and tenant.

How does an experienced Indian River County eviction lawyer fight for landlords?

Our skilled lawyers explain when and how landlords can file for eviction. We also anticipate the defenses that tenants normally raise such as contesting the propriety of the notice, failing to provide habitable premises, and claiming that the eviction is based on some type of discrimination against the tenant. We also explain that tenants who do contest an eviction are still required to deposit the rent with the court.

We also explain that terminating the lease is just the first step in the eviction process. A landlord must also take formal steps with the Indian River County Sheriff’s office to formally evict the tenant. These steps include:

  • Appearing at a hearing on the eviction
  • Obtaining an order from the judge granting the eviction
  • Filing a writ of possession and serving it on the tenant. This writ generally gives the tenant 24 hours to vacate the premises.

Our lawyers are skilled at handling evictions where the lease is year to year, month to month, or week to week. We also understand landlord eviction rights if there is no written lease.

Speak with an experienced Indian River County real estate lawyer today

At Lulich & Attorneys, our Vero Beach and Sebastian, we represent landlords who need to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent, for violating the terms of a lease, and for violating public safety. To discuss your eviction remedies with an experienced Indian River County eviction lawyer, call us at 772-589-5500 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.