Zachary S. McWilliams, P.A., offers landlord representation to real estate and rental property owners throughout South Florida. Owning commercial and residential real estate in the state of Florida can be a profitable enterprise, but it carries a significant amount of financial risk. Retaining the services of a real estate lawyer can help ensure that you are compliant with the laws and regulations of the State of Florida and that your investment remains profitable.
Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes sets forth specific rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. There are many pitfalls in landlord-tenant law, especially if the Landlord tries to use forms found in office supply stores and home-drawn letters notifying tenants of violations, etc.
The first step in a residential eviction is to for the landlord to serve the tenant with a notice to pay or vacate. If a tenant has not paid the rent, the Landlord is required to give the tenant a three-day notice in writing to vacate the premises or pay rent.
It is not uncommon for landlords or their agents to improperly ask tenants for more money than is owed under the guise of “late fees”, “administrative fees” etc. … or to improperly calculate the rent due date. In the eyes of many judges, these issues are enough to result in a delay or even dismissal of the eviction.
The next step in the residential eviction process is for the landlord to file and serve an eviction complaint. After the tenant receives the complaint, they have as little as five (5) days to respond to the eviction action or face a default (i.e. the loss of the right to defend the eviction action). If the tenant files a written response, the court will set a hearing on the case where both the landlord and tenant can argue their case. If the tenant does not respond, the landlord may ask the Court to enter a default judgment in the landlord’s favor. If a judgment is entered, but the tenant still fails to leave, the landlord has the right to ask the Sherriff’s Department to evict the tenants by serving the writ of possession.
Commercial evictions in South Florida generally fall into two categories: (1) monetary i.e. the tenant is not paying the rent; and (2) non-monetary, i.e. the tenant is paying the rent, but violating some other provision of the lease agreement. Examples of non-monetary eviction cases, include but are not limited to, the tenant is violating the zoning code, the tenant fails to secure the necessary property insurance, the tenant fails to maintain areas of the premises which it agreed to maintain pursuant to its lease agreement.
Often, tenants in commercial eviction cases will assert a variety of defenses including: (1) the landlord has failed to comply with its obligations under the lease agreement; (2) the landlord has failed to maintain the premises; (3) the landlord initially defaulted on the lease agreement thereby excusing the tenants performance and obligation to pay rent; (4) the landlord is guilty of “constructive eviction” because it has interfered with the tenants beneficial enjoyment of the premises. However, all tenants must “pay to play” in the landlord tenant context. Therefore, if a tenant would like to raise defenses and contest an eviction case, they must deposit all rental payments that come due under their lease agreement with the clerk of court. Absent depositing the full amount of rent due under the lease agreement, all of the tenants’ defenses to an eviction action will be deemed waived under Florida Statute §83.232.
REAL ESTATE ATTORNEY FOR EVICTIONS IN SOUTH FLORIDA
If you make all or part of your income leasing or managing property, it is vital that you have the advice and counsel of an attorney with experience in drafting and enforcing property rental leases. Contact us today for a free consultation regarding your landlord-tenant issue.