Providing a Livable Space: 10 Ways a Landlord Must Ensure Habitability

There is no doubt that managing a portfolio of rental properties can be a challenge even for the most conscientious landlord. The issues that need to be taken care of on a regular basis are numerous. Solving each and every one of them effectively and in a timely manner requires good planning, strategic thinking, and excellent management skills. However, no matter how many issues you need to handle as a landlord, property maintenance should always be at the top of your priority list. 

The consequences of leaving a leaking roof, faulty heating, or plumbing issues can ruin your reputation as a landlord. If you fail to resolve these problems promptly and effectively, your tenant may decide to take legal action against you for breaching the warranty of habitability. In Florida, the warranty of habitability is a common name for a set of housing statutes that protect the right of a tenant to a decent standard of living. In this article, you’ll learn what habitability means and what landlords are legally required to do to ensure habitable conditions of the property they are renting.

What Is Habitability?

Habitability is a broad legal concept. In general terms, it can be defined as the conformity of rental property with the basic living and safety standards. The warranty of habitability is an implied requirement which means that it doesn’t have to be stated explicitly in the rental or lease agreement. Additionally, a contract clause attempting to waive the warranty of habitability would be deemed against public policy and such unenforceable in most states.

While Florida Statutes do not contain the phrase “warranty of habitability,” the obligation of a landlord to ensure an appropriate standard of living is clearly defined in Section 83.51 of the Florida Statutes. According to s. 83.51, the landlord must comply with “. . . the requirements of applicable building, housing, and health codes.” Additionally, the landlord must ensure that the structural components of a rental property such as roofs, windows, doors, floors, steps, porches, etc. are in good repair and that the plumbing is in “reasonable working condition.”

Ways to Ensure Habitability

In practical terms, the above-mentioned requirements mean that a landlord should comply with the warranty of habitability in the following ways:

  1. Ensuring that the roof doesn’t leak.
  2. Providing windows and doors that are weather-tight and water-tight, and maintaining them in such condition.
  3. Maintaining the stairs in the safe-to-use condition.
  4. Ensuring that the house is reasonably rodent-proof.
  5. Ensuring hot water connection to the kitchen and the bathroom.
  6. Providing a flush toilet and maintaining it in good working condition.
  7. Providing a sufficient number of working electric outlets.
  8. Maintaining the electrical systems in working and safe condition.
  9. Taking appropriate care to ensure pest and rodent control and eliminating rats, mice, roaches, wood-destroying pests such as ants and termites, and bedbugs.
  10. Installing a working smoke detection device.

Facing a Lawsuit? Atlas Law Can Help

At times, even the most conscientious landlords face lawsuits from their disgruntled tenants. In some cases, such lawsuits are frivolous and unsubstantiated. As a landlord, you have every right to protect your reputation and interests by choosing a skillful lawyer to represent and protect you in a court of law. If you’re facing any legal issues coming from a dissatisfied tenant, do not hesitate to contact us. Our attorneys at Atlas Law will gladly review the issue you’re facing and advise with regards to the most advantageous solution available in your case. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.

Abandonment Explained

Unreturned phone calls, text messages without answers and, often, at least a month’s worth of unpaid rent. These are usually the tell-tale signs that your tenant has abandoned their rented property. It can be stressful and frustrating when a tenant disappears without notice before the tenancy has ended. Such a situation can also deal a blow to your finances – whether or not the tenant was behind with their payments. Under such circumstances, you may feel pressured to start looking for a new tenant right away.

When a tenant disappears for a prolonged period of time without informing their landlord, it may constitute a breach of the lease agreement and count as abandonment. However, before a landlord can change the locks and embark on a search for a new tenant, they need to find out whether the previous tenant has truly abandoned the property. Read on to learn what constitutes tenant abandonment in Florida and what your obligations as a landlord are if you’re ever faced with this issue.

What Constitutes Abandonment?

According to Florida law, a landlord can assume that a tenant has abandoned the property if:

  • the tenant has been absent for longer than half the time of periodic rental payment
  • the rent is not current (or, in other words, the rent is due)
  • the tenant has not notified the landlord about their prolonged absence

It should be noted that this criteria is established pursuant to Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes, so if you are a landlord renting a lot to a tenant in a manufactured home community, this abandonment provision would not apply to you.   

Landlord’s Obligation in Case of Abandonment

Provided that the conditions mentioned above are met, a landlord can then take actions to minimize financial losses by re-renting the property. A landlord may enter the abandoned property to perform any necessary improvements and repairs. The landlord may also change the locks and collect the old tenant’s belongings. 

Importantly, however, according to Florida law, a landlord may not simply dispose of the old tenant’s property without first attempting to reach the tenant. The landlord would have to provide the tenant with written notice and an opportunity to recover the abandoned property. A tenant has 10-15 days to retrieve property, depending on how the notice is delivered to the tenant. After that period, the landlord may dispose of, retain, or resell the property.

If the value of the property left behind by the former tenant is worth at least $500.00, a special procedure must be followed. Specifically, the property must be sold at public sale by competitive bidding. The sale must be advertised in a newspaper of general circulation for at least two weeks and take place at least 10 days after the initial publication. 

Importantly, the landlord cannot retain the full amount of proceeds from such sale. Rather, after deducting any costs related to the storage, advertisement, sale, etc., the remaining proceeds must be returned to the former tenant. If attempts to contact the tenant prove to be unfruitful, the proceeds must go to the clerk of court in the county where the property was abandoned.

As shown above, dealing with an issue related to a troublesome tenant can be more complicated than it initially seems. In order to avoid any legal liability, a landlord is usually required to follow statutory procedures. That is why before taking any action regarding a tenant, it is better to first consult an experienced attorney. If you have any questions with regard to a matter related to your tenant, please contact Atlas Law – a landlord’s advocate.

Landlord/Tenant Law 101: The Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

As a landlord, your are entitled to visiting your property – after all, you are the owner. But, on the other hand, are you truly allowed to step onto your rented property whenever you want regardless of whether or not the tenant is home?

Not respecting a tenant’s boundaries is a serious violation of an important Florida housing principle. This principle is called the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment. Read on to learn what this covenant exactly stipulates, how it protects a tenant’s rights, and what a tenant can do if they feel those rights are being violated.

What is the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment?

The Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment is a duty that Florida law imposes on landlords whether or not it is explicitly stated in the residential lease or contract. This covenant gives a tenant the right to enjoy his or her rented property without substantial interference from the landlord and without infringing on his or her privacy. Additionally, if a landlord wants to visit his or her property, he or she must give the tenant reasonable notice at least 12 hours in advance. Moreover, the tenant must give consent to the visit. However, a landlord is generally entitled to visiting the property in the following circumstances:

  • if the tenant unreasonably withholds the consent
  • in case of emergency
  • if the tenant is absent from the property for a period of time that is equal to one-half of the rental payment term

Violations of Quiet Enjoyment

The following list contains the most common examples of violations of the Covenant; while it is by no means complete, it may give you a good idea of what a violation of Quiet Enjoyment looks like:

  • Visiting too frequently
  • Entering the property without permission or notice
  • Refusing to give a tenant access to common areas or spaces on the residential premises
  • Preventing a tenant from having guests under reasonable circumstances

What You Can Do?

If you are dealing with situations that may constitute a violation of the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment, it is usually best to contact a qualified lawyer to ask for advice on what the best way to proceed would be given the circumstances. Our attorneys at Atlas Law can provide you with some basic guidelines during a free phone consultation. We will also advise whether legal action against your tenant may be warranted and be happy to represent your interests in a dispute that may ensue.

3 Examples of Housing Discrimination

Equal access to housing is a civil right protected by law on both state and federal levels. The Fair Housing Act, which was originally adopted in 1968, prohibits discrimination in house sales, rentals, and financing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Similar protections are also enshrined in Florida Statutes, which broaden the scope of persons protected from discrimination by prohibiting unfair treatment based on disability and familial status, among other things. Those who experience discrimination and unfair treatment with regard to housing may be entitled to file a civil lawsuit and claim financial compensation against the perpetrators.  In addition to a civil lawsuit, HUD can bring administrative action against a housing provider that violates the Fair Housing Act, which could result in financial and other penalties.

As a landlord, you need to be aware of recognized forms of discrimination. A lawsuit can destroy your reputation. In this article, we will explore a few of less notorious examples of discrimination you need to be wary of when leasing a new house or apartment.

1. Pet Restriction and Disabled Persons

Generally speaking, landlords are entitled to create rules with regards to the use of the property they put up for rent. As a result, your lease agreement may contain some legally enforceable restrictions that renters will have to adhere to when living in the property. Some provisions may prohibit all pets or restrict certain breeds or types of animals.

Nevertheless, if a renter is legally disabled and has a service animal, it may be considered discrimination based on disability if you tell someone they won’t be able to live there because the apartment or house doesn’t allow pets. This may be an instance of discrimination regardless of the kind of service animal and whether they need it for a physical or mental disability. However, the circumstances of each case may vary, so it is always best to consult an attorney experienced in Fair Housing Act cases before taking any action.

2. Construction Modifications and Disabled Persons

Similar to pet restrictions, the lease agreement may also prohibit the introduction of certain modifications to the physical design of the property. Such prohibitions may also be imposed by a condominium or homeowners association. However, what happens if someone becomes disabled due to a sudden medical condition and now the tenant requires certain home modifications? If you prohibit tenants from making such changes in the design of the property in order to accommodate the disability, it may be seen as discrimination. To take the best course of action available, it is advisable to consult a lawyer beforehand.

3. Discrimination Based on Family Status

Florida Statutes also prohibit discrimination based on family status. In practical terms, this means that property owners cannot refuse to offer housing to families with children or make arbitrary rules with regards to that (such as “families with children are only allowed on the first floor”). Another notorious example of discrimination may be charging an additional rental fee based on the number of family members residing on the property.

Experienced Housing Discrimination in Florida? Contact Atlas Law

Housing discrimination may take many forms. At times, you may be unsure if a policy, rule or regulation may be construed as discrimination. If you need legal advice and representation in relation to any legal issue related to Florida housing law, do not hesitate to contact our experienced attorneys at Atlas Law. Call us at 813.241.8269 to receive a free consultation regarding your case.

Understanding the Appeals Process in an Eviction Case

Facing an eviction order can be scary – especially if you feel that the decision the court has made is unfair and unjustified. Thankfully, Florida state law provides a way for you to fight the unjustified denial of an eviction by appealing the judgment in your eviction case. In this article, we will briefly walk you through the appeals process in Florida.

It is important to note that you can only file for an appeal after the final judgment was made in the eviction case. If you don’t agree with the judge’s decision in your case and you think that procedural errors have been committed in the first trial, you may have a good reason to file an appeal.

A landlord has 30 days from the date the eviction order was given to file an appeal by presenting the court with the required documents. The steps you must take in order for the appeals to be properly filed and recognized by the court include:

  • Notice of Appeal – The appellant must first file the notice of appeal with the appropriate appeals court (typically the court in which the final judgment was rendered). In addition, a filing fee of up to $300 must be paid.
  • Preparation of the Record – While the record is prepared by the clerk of the court, the appellant must ensure that the record contains all the records and documents they deem necessary to be included. The appellant will usually have 10 days to communicate their instructions to the clerk of the court.  This usually includes the additional of any trial transcripts, affidavits, or depositions that were taken as part of the original proceeding.
  • Docketing Statements and/or Disclosures – These include important information about the appeal such as the details of the initial judgment, parties involved, and attorneys who represent them.
  • Appellate Briefs – In appellate briefs, the parties present their arguments. Briefs are extremely important since the appellate court’s judgment will be based primarily on the information presented in the briefs. Unlike the original action, there is no trial.  No additional or new evidence is heard by the appellate court, as the purpose of the appeal is to argue that there was a procedural problem that occurred during the original eviction proceeding. The appealing party is responsible for presenting the initial brief. Once the initial brief is filed by the appealing party, the respondent will file the answer brief whose purpose is to defend the decision that was taken at the initial hearing. The appellant will have the chance to counter these arguments in the reply brief.

Appellate Proceedings

Once all the formal requirements pertaining to filing an appeal have been met, appellate proceedings may be initiated. Importantly, during an appeal, the appellate court will not consider new evidence or re-try the case. Rather, the purpose of the appeal is to find out if legal or procedural mistakes were committed at the initial hearing.

Some appeals may involve the oral argument in which parties appear before the court to present their position orally. The judges often takes advantage of this to ask additional questions to both the appellant and the respondent. The appellate court’s decision isn’t announced during the oral argument. Rather, the decision is issued in the written form after oral argument has been heard.  It is not uncommon for an appellate court to issue an opinion months after the oral argument occurs.

Landlords who lost their initial eviction hearing should be aware that filing an appeal on eviction judgment isn’t a DIY project. Moreover, it may be more cost effective to file a new eviction action instead of going through the appeals process.  Closely cooperating with an eviction lawyer with experience in real estate litigation will be crucial to the success of the appeal. Atlas Law attorneys have successfully represented the interests of landlords, including handling of appellate matters. If you are facing a court decision that you feel is unfair, please contact us immediately to take advantage of important protections our office can offer you.

4 Common Security Deposit Disputes

Even though largely unwanted and inconvenient, legal disputes about money are a frequent part of everyday life – both for business and individuals. One of the most common disputes we see involves tenants suing their landlords for the return of their security deposit. As a landlord, having basic knowledge about such disputes can help you both avoid unnecessary legal battles and effectively protect your rights if you find yourself in the middle of one. In this article, we will briefly analyze 4 common security deposit disputes.

1. Landlord Decides to Keep the Deposit for Wrong Reasons

According to Florida state law, landlords may have valid reasons to withhold the security deposit. Such reasons include:

  • Non-payment of rent (the deposit will be kept to cover the unpaid rent)
  • Certain violations of the lease agreement (depending on the wording of the lease)
  • Damage to the property in excess of normal wear and tear (the deposit will be kept to cover the costs of repairs)
  • Unpaid utilities (the deposit will be kept to cover the unpaid bills)

If a landlord tries to keep the deposit for reasons that aren’t lawful, the tenant may sue to recover the deposit, as well as legal fees.

2. Landlord Doesn’t Comply with Rules for Returning Deposits

Florida state law also clearly specifies the correct procedure a landlord must follow if they have valid reasons to withhold the deposit. Most importantly, a landlord must meet a strict deadline for returning the deposit or providing notice that the landlord intends to keep all or a portion of the deposit. If the landlord decides to keep a part of the deposit, the landlord must provide the tenant with advanced notice and itemize the intended deductions. If the landlord fails to meet the deadlines or to follow the procedure stipulated by the law, the tenant may sue the landlord with a high chance of winning the dispute.

3. Tenant Doesn’t Agree with the Deductions

As mentioned, a landlord may decide to make a deduction and withhold a part of the deposit to balance out the expenses related to the damage caused by the tenant or to cover abnormal cleaning costs. However, a tenant may dispute the amount of such a deduction. For example, the tenant may argue that the damage to the property is due to normal everyday use or that the claimed deduction is much higher than the reasonable costs of the repairs. In any case, if the sides don’t manage to work out an agreement, the matter may go to court.

4. Security Deposit Doesn’t Cover the Damage or Unpaid Rent

If the amount of the security deposit transferred by the tenant to the landlord at the time of the initial move-in isn’t sufficient to cover the expenses related to back rent, cleaning, or repairs, the landlord must provide the tenant with a demand letter. This letter should itemize the costs, state the amount the landlord is claiming, and mention a clear deadline to pay the outstanding amount. The demand should also inform the tenant that he or she will face legal action upon failure to comply with the demand. If the letter isn’t met with the expected action on the part of the tenant, the landlord may decide to take the matter to a small claims court.

Contact Atlas Law With Regards to Your Security Deposit Dispute

The attorneys at Atlas Law represent landlords in their security deposit disputes and claims. If you are currently facing such a dispute and you feel that your legal rights are being violated, please contact us without delay. We will schedule a consultation with you where an experienced attorney will analyze your case and inform you about your legal options.

Understanding Replevin

According to the legal dictionary, replevin is “an action seeking return of personal property wrongfully taken or held by the defendant.” This legal procedure can be used by a person in order to reclaim goods or objects that have been taken away and illegally held by another individual. Additionally, replevin can be also invoked by a creditor when a debtor defaults on a loan secured by personal property. In such situations, the creditor can use a replevin action to recover collateral, that is, a property pledged as security for repayment of a loan. Other circumstances in which replevin may be invoked include:

  • A family member seeking to reclaim a property held by the administrator of the estate of a deceased person
  • A car loan company seeking to reclaim a vehicle after a payment default
  • A tenant trying to repossess property held by his or her landlord in exchange for rent that was in arrears

In Florida, a person, a company, or an organization who finds themselves in one of the situations mentioned above – or a similar one – may try to reclaim their property by using self-help means, replevin without notice, or replevin with notice.

Self-help Repossession

When a debtor defaults on a loan, Florida law allows the creditor to reclaim the collateral for the loan by self-help means, that is, without the use of a legal process. However, the debtor must do so in a way that doesn’t breach the peace. One of the most common circumstances in which a debtor may resort to repossession is when an item purchased on credit – such as a car, a boat, etc. – is in itself the collateral for the loan. In Florida, a creditor can seize the collateral as soon as a default occurs if the purchase agreement states so.  It should be noted that for manufactured homes, a creditor may not be able to reclaim the collateral through self-help means. If the owner still resides in the manufactured home or still has items in the manufactured home, the law confirms that seizing the manufactured home constitutes a breach of the peace and is unwarranted.

Replevin without Notice

A person or a company seeking to reclaim their property may file for a replevin action with a court. In order to be able to obtain a Writ of Replevin, a person will have to prove the ownership of the property in question or the rights to the collateral. In order to do so, he or she may be required to provide corresponding documents such as ownership titles or specific agreements along with other pertinent information, such as:

  • Description of the property or collateral
  • Value of the property
  • Location of the property
  • Statement of ownership
  • Statement that the property is wrongfully detained

Replevin without notice means that the person that the debtor who is in illegal possession of the property will not be notified of the proceedings. In such cases, the creditor or the owner will be required to post a bond to the amount equal to the value of the collateral or double the amount owed. After that, the court will issue a Prejudgment Writ of Replevin to be delivered to the Sheriff, who will ensure a peaceful repossession of the property. Sometime later, a court hearing will take place in which the court will render the final judgment with regards to the property or collateral in question.

Replevin with Notice

In the case of replevin with notice, a person will not be able to reclaim the possession of a property before a judgment is rendered by the court but, at the same time, the plaintiff will not be required to file a cash deposit or a bond. This is the action most commonly taken for manufactured home replevin actions.  In this scenario, a debtor will be required to appear at an Order to Show Cause Hearing. At the hearing, a judge will decide the ownership of the property. The debtor will have an opportunity to present evidence as to why the property or the collateral should not be immediately returned to the plaintiff. However, if the plaintiff presents sufficient evidence of his or her claim, the court will usually issue the writ of replevin that will be delivered to the Sheriff.

Seeking a Replevin Action? Contact the Right Lawyer First

If you find yourself in a situation in which your property is being illegally held by another person, you may be able to reclaim it through a replevin action. However, much will depend on specific circumstances of your case. Replevin is one of the legal remedies used in landlord-tenant disputes, and is most commonly used when a manufactured home owner defaults on his/her agreement to pay his/her lender. Atlas Law is a law firm specializing in a variety of landlord-tenant issues. Please contact us today to discuss the details of your case and learn how we can help you reach a solution uniquely tailored to your needs and circumstances.

Mobile Home Management: 3 Tips to Handle an Eviction

Affordable housing is one of the most pressing issues American society is facing today. Prices of traditional housing units have been rising steadily over the last few years, making many American families pursue less expensive accommodation options. With a price of $90,000 for a unit, there is little wonder why mobile homes are one of the fastest-growing housing options in the U.S. It is estimated that about 18 million Americans currently live in some form of manufactured housing.

If you are an owner of the residential property and manage a home for rent, you may be interested in expanding your portfolio to add mobile homes. As a mobile home manager and landlord, you need to know that there are specific statutes in Florida housing law that regulate the relationship between a landlord and a tenant renting a lot in a mobile home community. In this article, we will provide an overview of the laws and regulations that a landlord must adhere to in handling an eviction situation.

Only Evict for Lawful Reasons

A landlord must only initiate eviction proceedings if a legally valid reason for it exists. Among the reasons mentioned by Florida laws are:

  • Non-payment of lot rent and utilities
  • Change in the land use
  • Violation of the property rules
  • Violation of the lease agreement

Trying to evict a tenant for other reasons may be illegal and make a landlord liable for breaking the law. In order to protect themselves, a tenant may sue the landlord for trespassing, unlawful eviction, or intentional infliction of emotional distress and claim financial compensation.

Follow the Proper Eviction Procedure

Before taking any action, a landlord must notify a tenant about the termination of the lease and provide a reason for it.

  • If the reason is a non-payment of rent, the landlord must provide the tenant with a 5-day notice.
  • For violations of federal, state, or local laws related to health, safety, and welfare of other residents, a tenant must be given 7 days to move.
  • In the case of a change in the land use, mobile home owners must be notified 6 months in advance.
  • For a severe violation of property laws, a landlord must serve a tenant with a 7-day notice.
  • In the case of minor violations, a tenant will be given 7 days to correct the issue. If a tenant then repeats the same violation within the next 12 months, he or she will be given 30 days to move.

If a tenant doesn’t vacate the property within the period mentioned in the written notice, the landlord may file an eviction lawsuit. If the tenant loses the lawsuit, a judge will authorize the clerk of court to issue a writ of possession that is served to the tenant by the sheriff. The writ of possession cannot issue until 10 days have passed after the court’s final judgment.  Service of the writ by the sheriff will occur by the sheriff taping the writ to the door of the mobile home in question. Importantly, it is then the sheriff and not the landlord who can forcibly move tenant from the property.

Avoid Self-Help Eviction

Self-help eviction is a term describing practices a landlord may try to take to intimidate or threaten a tenant into leaving the property. Self-help eviction is unlawful and may put a landlord in the position of legal liability. Some of the illegal self-help eviction actions are:

  • turning off utilities to the lot
  • threatening or intimidating a tenant
  • forcibly entering a tenant’s property
  • forcibly moving a tenant’s mobile home

Dealing with a Troublesome Mobile Home Owner? Contact Atlas Law

We are attorneys at law practicing Tampa, Florida, and we have an ample experience in advising and representing our clients in eviction cases in Florida. If you are dealing with issues such as a non-payment of rent, extremely late payments, lease agreement violations, and more – do not hesitate to contact us. We will help you make sure your rights and interest are protected and that you stay free of liability when you initiate eviction proceedings.

Common Eviction Costs and How to Reduce Them

A troublesome tenant may cost you money and your good reputation as a landlord. Dealing with them may also cause you a lot of unnecessary stress and consume time. In some situations – like non-payment of rent, extremely late payments, or breach of lease agreement – eviction may seem like the only viable solution to your tenant problems. Before you decide to take this serious legal step, however, you must be aware of the costs related to the eviction process. In this blog, we explore common expenses a landlord must be prepared to bear before, during, and after the eviction. We also tackle the question if it is possible to reduce the eviction costs.

Fees Related to Serving & Filing

As we mentioned in our August blog, each eviction must closely follow a process delineated by both state and county laws. Such laws state, for example, that before initiating any action to evict a tenant, they must be served a notice of eviction. If you’d like a professional to prepare such notice for you, this will likely be the first cost you’ll have to bear with relation to an eviction.

The notice must be then served to the tenant. Again, while you may choose to do that yourself, many prefer to have a third party – for example, a process server – deliver the notice. This solution is called civil processing and its advantage is that it creates an official record of the delivery. However, you must be prepared to pay a fee for it.

After the notice has been delivered and before you can move forward with the eviction, you need to file important paperwork – such as a Summons and a Complaint for Eviction and Damages – with your local or district court. At this stage, you will need to pay filing and processing fees. In Florida, these fees will cost you about $250, with increasing costs if there is more than one tenant.

Court Costs and Legal Fees

In addition to the initial paperwork that you file with the court, you will likely be required to file additional documents at every stage of the eviction. The costs of legal proceedings can quickly add up, especially if the eviction is contested by the tenant. Such expenses may relate to a court review of your case, the discovery process, and a jury trial. Depending on the circumstances, all such expenses may easily reach a few hundred, and sometimes thousands of dollars.

Attorney Fees

Due to the complexity of your eviction case, or simply for your peace of mind, you may require the assistance of an eviction attorney. There are different ways in which lawyers may charge you for their services. Some use a flat-rate package that includes the preparation of the needed documents and a number of court appearances. Others charge for their work according to their billable hourly rate. If your eviction case is contested and a hearing is necessary, attorney fees will likely be higher.

Other Eviction Related Costs

If the court approves of the eviction, or if you win your eviction case, you must be prepared for the cost of enforcing the eviction. For example, you will have to pay a fee service of the Writ of Possession in the amount of $90. After the actual, physical eviction has taken place, you will likely have to clean or even renovate your property, which will entail additional costs.

How to Reduce Eviction Costs

Most of the costs and fees mentioned above are mandatory and therefore impossible to avoid if you’re evicting a tenant. However, according to Florida Statutes, as a prevailing party in an eviction lawsuit, you are entitled to recover court costs and attorney fees from the losing party.

Nevertheless, the best way to reduce eviction costs is to avoid evictions altogether by investing money in better tenant-screening. While there are no guarantees, choosing tenants with a good credit score, solid references, and a professional tenant application will be less likely to give you lawful reasons for eviction.

Atlas Law – Trusted Florida Eviction Lawyers

At times, though, eviction may be necessary. If you are losing money or your good reputation as a landlord due to a troublesome tenant, contact Atlas Law. We are Florida attorneys who specialize in finding innovative solutions to complex eviction cases. Contact us today and schedule a consultation to talk about the details of your eviction case.

Is it Time? How to Determine When to Move Forward with Eviction

Eviction can be a messy and costly process. That’s why few landlords, if any, would rush with a decision to evict a tenant even if the relationship they have is far from perfect. Additionally, evicting a tenant for personal or unlawful reasons may warrant a retaliatory legal action initiated by the tenant. Even if a landlord feels like they have all the reason to proceed with the eviction, a threat of a lawsuit may make them think twice before going through with it.

Nevertheless, a troublesome tenant can negatively influence a landlord’s reputation, cause financial losses, and even become a threat to other occupants of the building. If you are a landlord, you should be aware that the law protects your rights and offers a framework for lawful evictions of extremely troublesome tenants. In our August blog, we offered some suggestions on how to stay out of legal trouble when evicting a tenant. This month, we will explore some reasons why eviction may actually be the only way to solve problems in a building that you own.

Tenant Repeatedly Failed to Pay Rent and Accumulated Debt

Most landlords are reasonable when faced with a tenant who has encountered a financial struggle and is unable to pay rent for a month or makes the payment a little late. Many such issues can be resolved thanks to good will shown by both parties. However, a repeated, unapologetic non-payment of rent is a lease violation and a financial hazard that few landlords can and are willing to afford. A landlord must remember, however, that they are obliged to deliver an eviction notice to the tenant with a 3 or 5-day notice period (depending on the property) before initiating further action.

Tenant Caused Major Damage to the Property

Normal wear and tear is not a lawful reason to initiate an eviction. However, intentional and extensive damage to the property can negatively influence its value and entail financial losses to the landlord, at the very least those related to repair costs. Similarly, a tenant cannot make significant changes or repairs to the property without a landlord’s permission or if such changes are not covered in the lease agreement. Both damaging the property and making illegal changes may constitute a lease violation, and are good reasons to start an eviction. However, if a tenant commits to repairing the damage and actually makes the repairs, the reason may cease to be valid.

Tenant Engages in Illegal Use of the Property

Illegal use of the property may entail engaging in some illegal activity on the property, but it can also mean using the property for business purposes even if the business itself is legal. If the property you are renting is residential, operating a business or commercial activities out of it may be illegal. Before taking eviction action on the basis of this reason, it is best to consult all the details and circumstances involved with an eviction attorney.

Ready to Evict a Tenant? Seek Legal Advice First

Taking care of all the legal aspects of an eviction may be stressful, but it’s even more nerve-wracking if the matter ends up in court. That’s why before taking this drastic step, you should make sure you have a trusted legal professional at your side. At Atlas Law, our attorneys have ample experience in handling complicated eviction cases. We will gladly help you make sure you stay out of trouble while protecting your property and financial interests. Contact us without delay to discuss your legal options.