5 Reasons Why a Landlord Should Never Resort to “Self-Help” Practices

In Florida, many landlord/tenant agreements include wording that is there to allow ‘self-help’ practices. Most commonly, these are evictions due to non-payment, which the landlord can complete without ever involving the courts. While this type of wording is found in many contracts for both residential and commercial agreements, it is never actually in the best interest of the landlord to engage in this type of practice.

There are so many restrictions on the self-help requirements, and the courts so often look negatively on this practice, that it backfires on the landlords in most situations. The following are some of the most significant reasons why a landlord should never resort to self-help practices:

Can Delay an Eviction

Many landlords take steps like turning off utilities or changing locks as part of their self-help process. If the tenant files a complaint against you for this practice, and the courts determine that you didn’t have the right to do this, it can significantly delay the eviction process. Many tenants are very familiar with how to manipulate the system to stay in a property for extended periods of time without paying, so never take any actions like this, which could cause significant delays.

Exposes You to Risk of Countersuit

If your tenant feels intimidated or harassed because of actions you have taken, you are exposed to a countersuit. Depending on the actions you take, and the sympathies of the judge in your case, it could cost you a significant amount of money. At the very least, it can make it so you have no choice but to waste time and money just to work your way through the countersuit.

Can Give You a Bad Reputation

Most people looking to rent residential or commercial space really don’t understand what self-help practices are, and that they can in some cases be legal. Tenants often write reviews on popular websites about their experiences with landlords. If they write that you forced them out of their home without even going through the courts, it can make future tenants look to another property.

You Could Face Jail Time

Believe it or not, there have been landlords who have actually had to go to jail because of their actions. Even if you are very confident that you are justified in taking these types of actions, the courts rarely see it this way. If they feel you’ve taken things too far, you could end up spending several days or even weeks in jail!

Getting Legal Help is Very Affordable

Last, but certainly not least, is the fact that it is so affordable to have an attorney help you with any evictions that are necessary. Contact Atlas Law to get an estimate on the costs associated with an eviction based on your unique situation. We advocate for landlords in Florida, and would be honored to fight for your rights.

The Right Way to Evict a Defaulting Commercial Tenant in Florida

Renting commercial space to a tenant is a great way to make money in Florida. Whether you are renting an unused portion of your commercial property, or you purchase commercial property exclusively to rent it out to tenants, it is important to ensure you are receiving the promised payments from the tenants. If a commercial tenant in Florida is defaulting on their agreement, you may need to evict them.

Evicting commercial tenants is not the same as residential tenants. The laws in Florida respect the fact that commercial tenants are fiscally aware of the agreements they are signing, which in many cases can give the landlords the ability to evict defaulting tenants more easily than it would be to evict a residential tenant. That being said, however, it is still necessary to take the proper steps to avoid delays and other complications.

Giving Sufficient Notice

Once a commercial tenant has defaulted on their payments, you must give them a minimum of three days’ notice before beginning the eviction proceedings (for evictions not related to payments, fifteen days’ notice is usually necessary). The notice should be in written form, and ideally should be delivered via certified mail so you have proof that the notice was given.

Unlawful Detainer Complaint

Once that notice period has passed, filing an eviction complaint is the next step. This complaint should be filed with the local state court in which the property in question exists. In addition to filing it with the courts, it should be served to the tenant.

Wait for a Response

Once the tenant has been served, they have five days in which to respond to the complaint. They can respond by filing an answer, issuing a counterclaim, or by exiting the commercial property. If they fail to respond at all, the tenant automatically loses the case.

Make Your Case

If the tenant does file an answer or counterclaim, the courts will set up a date, usually a few weeks in the future, when everyone must come in and state their case. In the vast majority of these types of cases, it will be heard by a judge, though in some rare circumstances a jury may be brought in.

Enforce the Judge’s Ruling

If the judge agrees with you that the tenant did not make their required payments, he or she will make the ruling that the tenant must leave. If the tenant doesn’t vacate the premises within a reasonable amount of time (a day or two) then you can have the courts enforce the ruling, which is when the police can forcibly remove them, at which time you can begin the process of finding a new tenant.

Don’t Attempt to Handle it On Your Own

While these types of cases seem quite simple on the surface, there are many little things that can go wrong. If the paperwork is not completed correctly, the notices aren’t served properly, or the tenant has a solid argument as to why they haven’t made their payments, it can cause significant delays. Contact Atlas Law to discuss your options, and let us help you through the commercial eviction process.