My Tenant Won’t Leave!
Both landlords and tenants have specific rights and responsibilities in Florida, clearly laid out in the relevant statute. This includes everything from paying rent on time to observing the beginning and end of the lease. If a tenant fails to leave after a lease has ended, this can lead to serious issues down the road. While a tenant may have a legitimate grievance against their landlord, the remedy is never to simply remain on the premises without permission. An attorney can help to settle the issue.
No “Self-Help” Remedies
A tenant refusing to leave at the end of a lease is known as a holdover tenant. It is important to keep in mind that it is sometimes possible for a tenant to be unaware they are ‘holding over’ – in Florida, a landlord does not have to inform the tenant specifically that they are not renewing a lease unless the lease is month-to-month; for all other leases, they can simply end the lease, and the tenant must then move out. It is obviously a good idea to provide notice, but it is not strictly required for leases of any length beyond a month at a time.
There are many different reasons why a tenant may choose to remain beyond the end of their lease – some are legitimate grievances. However, Florida law (and the law in most other states) does not endorse “self-help” remedies either by landlords or by tenants – for example, a landlord cannot “evict” a tenant by changing the locks. If a tenant has a genuine concern, they should pursue a potential remedy through the legal process, rather than choosing to effectively trespass on premises that are no longer theirs.
Law Favors Landlords
In the event of a holdover tenancy, Florida law is firmly on the side of the landlord. The relevant statute says that if a tenant is holding over, the landlord has the right to recover the premises via obtaining a document known as a writ of possession. In addition, it allows double recovery of the rent that might have been charged during the period where the tenant refuses to surrender the premises. The tenant generally has 5 days in which to file a response to the action, and if they fail to do so, the landlord can obtain a default judgment.
If a landlord obtains a default judgment against a tenant in an eviction suit, what that means is that they have the right to reclaim the premises, regardless of the tenant’s status. They can padlock the place and forcibly evict the tenant, and can even retain possession of any of the tenant’s things left in the apartment or home. The right of a landlord to retain their property is seen as outweighing any justification of the tenant’s for remaining without paying rent.
Contact A Tampa Landlord-Tenant Attorney
If you are a landlord dealing with a holdover tenant, it is crucial to handle the process appropriately, with no extralegal steps. A Tampa landlord-tenant attorney from the Seward Law Office can help to guide you through the process while ensuring that no mistakes are made that could give grounds for further debate. Contact our office today at 813-252-6789 for a consultation.