Landlord's Legal Troubleshooter

LANDLORD’S LEGAL TROUBLESHOOTER03 Aug

 

 [Note:  The following is based on Florida law.  Some subsidized housing programs

require longer notice periods, additional notice content, and additional delivery

methods.  For example, for project section 8, see 10-day forms in this website.]

 

TROUBLE:  Tenant owes rent.

SOLUTION:  Give tenant(s) 3-day notice to pay the total rent then due.  Only put total rent then due-no itemizing & no statement about future charges.  Address notice to all adult tenants.  If a phase like “all other occupants” is used, these possible unauthorized occupants are being invited to pay and become authorized tenants. The notice will expire at midnight on the third day after delivery excluding the day of delivery, weekends, and legal holidays observed by the court in the county where the property is located.  All “legal” holidays are not observed.  The expiration date must be put on the notice.  The 3-day notice cannot include amounts due for anything but rent.  Charges such as late charges or NSF charges that are defined as additional rent may be included in the 3-day notice, but if the judge deems that they are unreasonably high, the judge could rule the 3-day notice unenforceable (or even the lease agreement itself).  If full payment is offered before the 3-day notice expires, it must be accepted.  If partial payment is accepted, a new 3-day notice for the balance due would be required to initiate legal action.  If payment is not made before the 3-day notice expires and the tenant does not voluntarily vacate, the only way to evict is by filing suit.  An agreement can be reached to let the tenant pay and stay after suit is filed, but it should be in writing.  FL Statute 83.56(3) states:  “The 3-day notice shall contain a statement in substantially the following form.”  A recommended form is in the forms section of this website.  Note that the landlord’s address and phone number must be on the notice.  See the Serving Notices heading below. (F.S. 83.56(3) & F.S. 683.01)

TROUBLE:  Tenant or guest causes a disturbance.

SOLUTION:  For first offense, send warning letter that describes the disturbance(s) and informs the tenant that a second offense within 12 months will be grounds to terminate lease.  It is like a 7-day curative notice, but it is not necessary to give a tenant 7 days to stop disturbing neighbors.  On second offense, non-curative notice that lease is terminated and tenant has 7 days to vacate may be sent.  However, if subsequent offense is not too severe, another warning letter may be more appropriate, especially if it has been a long time since the prior offense.  Also, call police or sheriff when needed.  (F.S. 83.56(2)(b))

TROUBLE:  Tenant violates lease or law in a way that he should be allowed to correct (such as dirty apartment or an unauthorized occupant or pet).

SOLUTION:  Give a 7-day curative notice to remedy the noncompliance or vacate the apartment.  If not remedied in 7 days, eviction suit may be filed.  (F.S. 83.56(2)(b))

TROUBLE:  Tenant does something so bad that he should not be given a second chance (such as intentional damage to property).

SOLUTION:  Give a 7-day non-curative notice that lease is terminated and tenant has 7 days to vacate.  Also, consider calling the police or sheriff if criminal prosecution may be appropriate.  (F.S. 83.56(2)(a))

TROUBLE:  Requiring tenant to move at expiration of lease.

SOLUTION:  If a lease has an automatic renewal provision (most do), give notice as required in lease.  Even if lease does not have an automatic renewal provision, it is a good idea to give notice well in advance of expiration that tenant will be required to move.  On day after expiration, eviction suit may be filed if tenant has not moved.  Do not give a 3-day notice unless you want to let tenant stay and pay.

  TROUBLE:  Improperly parked or unauthorized vehicles.

SOLUTION:  If the lease or rules properly give authority, a tenant’s vehicle that is not properly parked or is otherwise prohibited may be towed.  Normally a non-tenant’s vehicle may not be towed without giving personal notice to the owner or person in control of the vehicle, or having signs posted in compliance with Florida Statute 715.07.  Personal notice means actually communicating with the person (verbal or written) and not just leaving a notice on the vehicle.  Towing must be done by a company that complies with the statute.  Towing makes people very angry (even mad).  Be careful.  It’s tricky.  Read the statute.  (F.S. 715.07)

TROUBLE:  Tenant’s check “bounces”.

SOLUTION:  Send letter to tenant by certified mail following format in Florida Statutes 832.07.  15 days after mailing, if check not made good, ask appropriate law enforcement agency to initiate criminal prosecution.  If not made good within 30 days, civil penalty can be up to 3 times the amount of check.  Also give 3-day notice if check was for rent.

TROUBLE:  Terminating tenancy of former employee who received apartment as part of compensation.

SOLUTION:  If there is a lease or occupancy agreement, follow its provisions.  If no agreement, tenancy may be terminated with written notice.  An employee who was paid weekly must be given 7 days’ notice.  One who was paid monthly must be given 15 days’ notice.  The statute does not specify, but one who was paid every 2 weeks probably should be given 14 days’ notice.  The former employee must pay rent at the market rate starting the day after employment ends (unless there is a different agreement).  (F.S. 83.46(3))

TROUBLE:  Terminating month-to-month tenant.

SOLUTION:  Give written notice of termination date that must be the last day of a payment period (normally calendar month).  Notice must be given at lease 15 days prior to termination date unless the lease requires a longer notice period.  Many leases require a 30-day notice. (F.S. 83.46(2))

TROUBLE:  Tenant is evicted or abandons dwelling leaving belongings.

SOLUTION:   When the sheriff evicts a tenant or thereafter, the landlord may remove tenant’s property to or near the property line.  If the lease or a separate agreement has the abandoned property provision in Florida Statute 83.67, and the tenant abandons the dwelling, the tenant’s property may be disposed of without liability.   If neither of the foregoing applies, send notice by first class mail as required by Sections 715.10 through 715.11 of Florida Statutes to tenant describing property and giving him 15 days to pay storage costs and advertising costs.  Procedure is different for property values below and over $500.00.  If payment is not made, sell property in compliance with statute and apply proceeds to balance due.  Be careful.  Read the statute. (F.S. 715.10)

TROUBLE:  Tenant moves leaving damaged dwelling or owing rent.

SOLUTION:  Send security deposit claim notice by certified mail using format provided in Florida Statue 83.49(a) within 30 days of when tenant vacates.  Note:  The 30-day period could start before the end of the lease if the tenant leaves early.  If tenant leaves before end of lease without giving at least 7 days written notice to landlord, landlord does not have to send claim notice.  (F.S. 83.49 (3) (a) & (5))

SERVING NOTICES:  Except as noted below, notices may be hand delivered to a tenant, left at the

dwelling if the tenant is absent at the time of delivery, or mailed by first class mail.  When hand delivered, a reasonable effort must first be made to hand the notice to a tenant and ascertain his absence before leaving it at the premises.  When a notice is not handed to a tenant, it should be inside a sealed envelope that does not indicate its contents.  The person who delivers should certify on landlord’s copy the method of delivery and sign the certificate of service after delivery.  Never mark a notice “left at the premises in the tenant’s absence” before delivery.  The method of delivery does not have to be marked on the tenant’s copy.  The certificate of service is for the landlord’s records.  When leaving notices, it is usually better to leave them in a conspicuous place inside the front door (for example, on the floor) instead of attached to the outside of the front door.  Otherwise, the tenant may claim a notice was removed or blew away before he saw it.  A tenant does not have to get the notice; it just must be properly delivered.  However, a judge may be sympathetic to a tenant who can convince the judge that it was not received.  Notices may also be delivered by first class mail, but 5 days must be added to expiration date if this is the only method of delivery.  Notices sent by mail that require a response must also allow 5 days for response by mail.  Day of mailing or delivery does not count in computing expiration date.  Abandoned property letters must be sent by regular mail if not hand delivered. Security deposit claim notices and NSF check notices must be sent certified mail even if also hand delivered.  All of the above are requirements of statutes.  A lease could have more burdensome requirements for the landlord, and the more burdensome requirements would apply.

#

Free Legal Download

 

You can download all of our Legal Forms to help you with any landlord issue you might have. 

  • THREE DAY NOTICE TO PAY RENT OR GIVE POSSESSION
  • DISHONORED CHECK NOTICE
  • DISTURBANCE NOTICE
  • TERMINATION NOTICE FOR MONTH-TO-MONTH TENANT
  • LEASE ADDENDUM – GATE CARD
  • GUARANTY OF LEASE
  • NOTICE OF INTENTION TO IMPOSE CLAIM ON SECURITY DEPOSIT
  • LEASE APPLICATION
  • LEASE COMMENTS
  • LEASE ADDENDUM NON-LIABILITY FOR PERSONAL PROPERTY
  • NOTICE OF NON-RENEWAL OF LEASE
  • LEASE ADDENDUM – PET
  • NOTICE OF RENT INCREASE
  • and many more

Contact Us

 

John E. McMillan ~ John@JohneMcMillan.com

Melisa M. Lezotte ~ Melisa@JohneMcMillan.com

Bobbie C. Turner ~ Bobbie@JohneMcMillan.com

5309 E. Busch Blvd.

Temple Terrace, FL 33617-5505

(813) 988-5135

FAX: 989-2129