Florida Eviction LawPosted by Christopher Berkompas in Florida
Note: I am not a lawyer, and this is not intended as legal advice.
Under what circumstances may a tenant be evicted?
The landlord may seek to evict a tenant for one of the following reasons: (1), failing to pay rent, (2) the lease has ended, (3) the tenant has breached the lease in some serious way. A landlord is not obligated to renew a lease which has expired.
What is the process for evicting a tenant?
First, the landlord must issue the tenant a three day notice to leave the premises, or a seven day notice if the eviction is for breaching the lease. If the tenant does not comply, the landlord will then proceed with filing a complaint to the court, stating his reasons and including the lease. The tenant will receive these papers, and the court will set a date for the hearing, at which the tenant must appear or be evicted by default.
At the hearing, both sides will be allowed to present their evidence, and the court will decide. If it decides for the tenant, he will not be forced to move. However, if it decides for the landlord, it will order the tenant to move. In the event that the tenant still fails to do so, the court will issue a warrant of possession to the landlord, which will allow him to request the local sheriff to forcibly remove the tenant.
The tenant may appeal his conviction, or ask for additional time to move. The court may or may not grant his request.
How are landlords supposed to deal with tenant belongings left behind?
Once the tenant has been forcibly evicted, the local sheriff will remove the tenant's possessions and store them in a private warehouse, under the control of the landlord. The tenant may then reclaim it, paying the reasonable storage fees which the landlord may charge him.
Can the landlord shut off utilities or lock a tenant out prior to the completion of the eviction process?
Only a court can evict a tenant. Therefore, a landlord may not shut off essential utilities, such as water, gas, or heat, or a tenant out prior to the completion of eviction proceedings. These utilities may be shut off temporarily if the landlord needs to make a good faith repair and it is necessary to do so.
Are landlords required to let tenants know why they are being evicted?
Yes, the landlord must state a reason for the eviction in the papers he submits to the court, and which are also served on the tenant.
Is it legal for the landlord to deduct legal fees and court costs from the security deposit?
No. The security deposit can only be used for the purposes specified in the lease, which may not include court costs in the case of litigation. The court may order the tenant to pay the court costs, but this must come from the tenant directly, not from his security deposit.
Can the landlord try to collect unpaid rent for the rest of the time left in the lease?
Only the court can collect back rent for the landlord, he may not pursue the tenant without the court's order.
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