Landlords or property owners who want to evict a tenant in Indian River County, Florida need to understand the current state and county laws and rules. In addition, during the pandemic due to COVID-19, they also must comply with state executive orders and other laws regarding evictions during the health crisis.
The best course of action, for a landlord, is to consult with an experienced Sebastian or Vero Beach lawyer who has experience with Indian River County landlord/tenant cases. In general, the state and county try to create a balance between the right of landlords to earn a living from their rentals and the right of tenants to a fair chance to comply with any defaults or other rental violations,
Can Florida landlords use self-help remedies?
Landlords generally cannot change the locks or turn off the utilities. They must comply with statutory requirements. There are, however, different requirements, depending on the reason for the eviction.
Many Vero Beach and Sebastian evictions begin because the tenant is behind in his/her rent. Some evictions are because the tenant violates other terms of the lease such as:
- The duty to maintain the property and keep it clean
- They need to be quiet – especially at night
- Other violations of the lease independent of the rent requirement
What are the requirements of Florida statute 83-56?
Florida Statute 83-56 details specific items that landlords must meet in order to begin eviction proceedings. Section 1 of the statute details the rights of tenants to terminate a lease.
Section 2 of the statute details the rights of the landlord to terminate a lease: Florida Statute 83.52 details the basic non-rental reasons for ending a lease. These include the duty to:
- Comply with any building, health, or housing codes that the landlord requires of its tenants
- Keep the leased property clean and sanitary
- Remove the garbage on a regular basis
- Keep the plumbing fixtures in good repair and clean and sanitary
- Use the utilities, appliances, and elevators in a reasonable manner
- Not damage or run any part of the leased property
- Make sure that the tenant and anyone else on the leased property doesn’t disturb any neighbors
If the tenant materially fails to comply with Florida Statute 83.52 or material provisions of the rental agreement, other than a failure to pay rent, or reasonable rules or regulations, the landlord may see to end the lease.
Noncompliance of Sebastian and Vero Beach leases where the tenant can’t cure non-rental violations
The steps a Sebastion or Vero Beach landlord should take if the tenant’s noncompliance is such that “the tenant should not be given an opportunity to cure it or if the noncompliance constitutes a subsequent or continuing noncompliance within 12 months of a written warning by the landlord of a similar violation” are:
Provide the tenant with a written notice which details why the tenant is in noncompliance and that the landlord will be ending the lease because of the noncompliance.
Noncompliance examples, which are not curable, include the destruction, damage, or misuse of the leased property or the property of other tenants – by intentional acts or “or a subsequent or continued unreasonable disturbance.”
The landlord must then give the tenant 7 days’ notice from the delivery date to vacate the leased property. The form of the notice should state:
“You are advised that your lease is terminated effective immediately. You shall have 7 days from the delivery of this letter to vacate the premises. This action is taken because (cite the noncompliance) “
Noncompliance where the non-rental violations are subject to cure
The steps the landlord should take if the tenant’s noncompliance is such that “the tenant should be given an opportunity to cure it:
- Provide the tenant with a notice detailing a curable noncompliance which gives the tenant 7 days from the delivery date to correct the noncompliance.
- Explain that failure to make the cure within 7 days will lead to termination.
- Explaining that if the noncompliance occurs again in the next 12 months, the landlord may commence an eviction action – without sending a second notice.
Examples of curable non-compliance include:
- Unauthorized pets, vehicles, or guests
- Parking in unauthorized spots or in an improper manner
- Failing to keep the property clean and sanitary
Evictions based on non-payment of rent
The landlord can terminate the lease:
“If the tenant fails to pay rent when due and the default continues for 3 days, excluding Saturday, Sunday, and legal holidays, after delivery of written demand by the landlord for payment of the rent.”
The form of the 3-day notice should be as follows:
“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, Indian River 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).
(landlord’s name, address, and phone number.”
What actions constitute delivery of written notice?
Generally, notices are either:
- By mail
- Delivery of true copy
- Leaving a copy at the residence – if the tenant is not at the premises
What acts may constitute a waiver of the landlord’s right to terminate the lease?
A Sebastaom or Vero Beach landlord waives the right to terminate a lease or to file a civil action
- By accepting rent with actual knowledge of a noncompliance
- By accepting performance of other lease provisions – “at variance with its provisions”
The waiver does not apply to subsequent or continuing noncompliance.
Acceptance of partial rent does not constitute a waiver though there are specific steps the landlord must take regarding the partial rent which a skilled Indian River County lawyer can explain.
If the landlord terminates the agreement, the landlord must comply with 83.49 Deposit money or advance rent; duty of landlord and tenant.
Common defenses raised by tenants in Sebastian and Vero Beach
Landlords should anticipate that a tenant may assert one or more of the following defenses, among others:
- Failure to provide the proper notice
- Failure of the landlord to provide a livable place or failure to comply with other lease requirements
- A claim that the eviction is based on some form of discrimination
Normally, even when the tenant raises a defense, the tenant is required to deposit the rent with the court.
The termination of the lease is just the first step. To formally evict the tenant, the landlord must, according to the Indian River County Sherriff’s office, also:
- File a complaint for eviction. This complaint is one part for the possession of the property and another part, if needed, for the rent.
- Serve the tenant with the complaint
- Wait for a tenant response or for a preset length of time
- Request a judgment or attend a hearing if the tenant files a formal response
Once the landlord obtains approval from the court to evict the tenant, the landlord should seek a writ of possession. This writ is filed with the local sheriff’s office so the sheriff can formally give the tenant 24 hours’ notice to leave the property.
The notice requirements and other steps may vary if:
- There is no written lease
- The lease is week-to-week
- The lease is month to month
For help with landlord-tenant evictions, call the skilled Florida real estate lawyers at Lulich Attorneys & Consultants today. You can reach us at 772-589-5500 in Sebastian, at 772-7747-7771 in Vero Beach. You can also use our online contact form to schedule an appointment.