Florida Landlord Attorney

Florida Attorneys

Serving You and The State of Florida

For many people, purchasing investment properties can be a great financial strategy. This is particularly true in Florida, where there is a strong market for both short and long-term rentals due to tourism, colleges and universities, and military bases such as MacDill Air Force Base. While there is great potential in becoming a landlord, it also has its fair share of challenges.

A Florida landlord attorney can help protect your interests as a landlord. This can include everything from drafting a strong lease to handling problems that may come up, such as nonpayment of rent, property damage, security deposit disputes, or even allegations of housing discrimination. Whether you own a short-term vacation rental, a home for a long-term lease, or even commercial properties, your lawyer will advocate for your rights.

At The Lopez Law Group, we understand the unique concerns of Florida landlords. We offer strategic, proactive legal advice to our clients, and represent them in any legal disputes that may arise. Reach out to our law offices today to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team.

What Rights Do Landlords Have in Florida?

To many landlords, it seems like tenants have all of the rights when it comes to the legal system. There are indeed certain tenant protections built into Florida’s Landlord-Tenant Law, particularly for residential leases. However, landlords also have rights under the law.

First, landlords have the right to be paid rent for the use of their property. The rent must be paid per the lease (i.e., on the first of the month, within a grace period, etc).

Landlords also have the right to have their property returned to them at the end of the lease term in substantially the same condition as when it was rented to the tenant. Of course, there is an allowance for normal wear and tear. But if there is property damage beyond normal things like a few nail holes in the wall or scuff marks on the floors, then the landlord may be able to retain all or part of the tenant’s security deposit. In some cases, a landlord can pursue legal action to cover damages that exceed the security deposit.

Landlords also can expect their tenants to comply with the terms of the lease and with both federal and state law. For example, if the lease specifies certain quiet hours and a tenant is routinely causing disturbances in the middle of the night, it might be grounds for eviction. Similarly, if a tenant is violating the law – such as by dealing drugs out of the property – then the landlord may be able to evict them.

Landlords do have many duties under Florida Law. This includes:

  • Providing a safe, habitable home;
  • Giving the tenant possession and use of the property free from interference (although landlords do have a right of reasonable inspection of the premises);
  • Making reasonable repairs when necessary;
  • Not increasing rent or decreasing services in a discriminatory manner;
  • Not engaging in housing discrimination;
  • Not threatening to retaliate against a tenant;
  • Not locking a tenant out of the unit or otherwise engaging in self-help eviction;
  • Not shutting off utilities;
  • Providing written notice to end the rental if the lease does not specify a termination date; and
  • Going through a formal court process to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent or other issues.

Even with a lease, disputes between landlords and tenants can still arise. Our Florida landlord attorneys handle common landlord-tenant disputes such as:

  • Late payment of rent
  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Lease violations, such as getting a dog when pets are forbidden by the lease
  • Maintenance issues
  • Property damage
  • Forbidden tenant renovations to the property
  • Noise violations
  • Property damage
  • Unpaid utilities
  • Unauthorized guests

One of the more frustrating parts of being a landlord is that even when they are in the right, dealing with tenant problems can cost them quite a bit of money. This may include expenses related to property damage, carrying the mortgage when looking for a new tenant, or losing out on rent if a tenant refuses to pay. When these problems arise, a Florida landlord lawyer can advise you of your rights and options for resolving the issue.

When Is the Best Time to Hire a Florida Landlord Attorney?

For many people, the thought of hiring a lawyer doesn’t cross their mind until a specific problem crops up with their tenants. However, there is a lot of value in talking to a Florida landlord attorney before purchasing an investment property or signing a residential or commercial lease with your first tenant.

A lease is a type of contract. Like any legal document, it is always a good idea to have a lawyer review and/or draft a lease. They can come up with a proactive strategy to protect your interests, such as by inserting lease provisions that you may not have even considered. If you do have an issue with a tenant, having a strong lease can make a difference in the outcome of your case.

An attorney can also advise you of your rights and obligations under Florida law. This can include things like advice on local ordinances on short and long-term rentals, how to legally screen tenants, and how to provide notice to a tenant of a proposed eviction. There are many potential legal minefields for landlords, so it makes sense to have an experienced Florida landlord-tenant attorney to provide you with legal counsel before you start renting out your properties.

Evicting a Tenant in Florida

In Florida, it is against the law to evict a tenant with a residential lease without going through a formal legal process. This multi-step process starts with providing notice and may end with a law enforcement officer removing the tenant from the property. Doing something to evict a tenant yourself – without going through these steps – is known as self-help eviction.

To legally evict a tenant, you will first have to provide them with adequate notice. The length of notice will depend on the reason for the proposed eviction. At the end of the notice period, if the tenant has not fixed or “cured” the problem or moved out voluntarily, then you can file an eviction petition in the local court to start the eviction. A Florida eviction lawyer can help you with this paperwork.

If you file an eviction lawsuit, then you will have to go to court to have the tenant formally removed from the property (even if they don’t fight the eviction). You will need the court to issue an order of possession. This order can then be given to the local sheriff or other law enforcement officer so that they can assist with the eviction. Under no circumstances can you change the locks or otherwise do something to force the tenant out of the property.

Other Legal Issues That May Arise for Florida Landlords

Beyond lease disputes and evictions, landlords in Florida may deal with other legal matters related to their investment properties. For example, if a tenant or guest slips and falls on the property, they could be named in a personal injury lawsuit. Having adequate insurance and good legal representation is necessary to protect yourself from these types of claims.

There are also strict federal and state laws that protect against housing discrimination and retaliation. This can include discriminating against a person because of their race or disability, for example (such as by refusing to allow a tenant to have a service animal). Violations of these laws can result in severe financial penalties and even prosecution. A Florida landlord attorney can advise you of your rights and help to reduce the risk of being accused of discrimination and/or retaliation.

In some situations, you may need to bring a lawsuit of your own to recover damages to your property. There may be times when a tenant has caused damage that far exceeds the security deposit. A landlord may be able to file a lawsuit, typically in small claims court, to recover financial compensation for these losses.

Why Do I Need a Florida Landlord Lawyer? 

In Florida, the law tends to favor tenants – particularly in residential leases. Even in situations where a tenant is violating the lease in some way (such as by refusing to pay rent), it can be difficult to evict them or even to get compensated for your losses. When you have invested your own time and money into a rental property, it can be hard to handle these matters rationally. A landlord attorney can advise you of the best course of action, and help you achieve the best possible outcome.

Your lawyer will start by explaining the legal landscape to you, including the local, state, and federal laws that govern your rental property and your actions as a landlord. They can write a lease that is far more protective than a fill-in-the-blank form that you may find on the internet and one that is specifically geared to Florida law to your unique situation.

It is important to understand that the potential consequences of a legal violation aren’t just losing out on a few months’ of rent or having to find a new tenant. Landlords who do things like retaliate against a tenant for exercising their legal rights could face massive financial penalties that could lead to financial ruin. 

Evicting a tenant illegally – without going through the legal process – can also be incredibly expensive. Doing so can result in an award of treble damages, which is 3 times the tenant’s actual damages. Understanding these realities and what you can do to avoid getting into legal hot water is essential as a landlord. 

Having skilled legal representation can ensure that your investment property is as profitable as possible. Obtaining legal advice will ultimately be a smart investment in your financial security as your lawyer can develop a proactive strategy to protect your legal rights and minimize the risk of costly legal issues. While a Florida landlord attorney can’t guarantee that you won’t get a problem tenant, they can help you navigate the legal system and protect yourself as best as you can.

Contact The Lopez Law Firm for Help

Owning investment properties can be a smart way to secure your financial future. However, it isn’t always smooth sailing – particularly when you have tenants who don’t pay rent or disrupt other tenants. A Florida landlord attorney can work with you to ensure that your legal rights are protected.

At The Lopez Law Group, we are skilled in all types of landlord-tenant matters. We offer legal advice and representation to landlords throughout Florida to help them optimize their investments and protect their interests. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a Florida landlord lawyer, give us a call at 866-235-9480 or fill out our online contact form.

My Tenant Wants to Have a Dog. Do I Have to Let Them?

It depends. While it is fine to have a lease agreement that prohibits pets, you cannot deny a tenant with a disability the right to have a service animal or an emotional support animal. Doing so can be a form of housing discrimination, and can result in fines and penalties.

If you have questions about your no-pet policy, reach out to The Lopez Law Group to talk to a Florida landlord lawyer about your options and rights. We can evaluate particular situations and work with you to come up with a good solution.

Why Can’t I Evict My Tenant Myself If They’re Not Paying Rent?

One of the more frustrating aspects of being a landlord is having to go through the eviction process even when a tenant violates the lease. It costs time and money to evict a tenant legally, and it seems incredibly unfair to have to follow the law when the tenant isn’t doing so. However, there is a good reason that the law against self-help evictions exists – to protect tenants from losing their homes without a place to go, particularly from unscrupulous landlords who may do something like change the locks without cause.

Following the legal eviction process isn’t just recommended – it is required. If you are dealing with a problem tenant, contact The Lopez Law Group to talk to a Florida eviction lawyer about your options.

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Mr. Lopez was a Godsend and really helped me with my situation. Him and the entire firm were very diligent and helped speed the early stages of the process along due to a pressing situation. Throughout my experience working with the firm, they were always responsive and available any time I had a question or wanted to check on the state of affairs. Hopefully I won’t have to recommend Lopez Law Group to my friends or family, but if those unfortunate circumstances arise then there’s only one name I would trust. Thank you again for all your help!

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I called multiple attorneys to resolve my issue and none had much experience as much as this form. Anthony was amazing and made sure that as his client I was satisfied and understanding with his work. Very helpful and very patient and I was able to communicate with ease. I will definitely recommend this firm if you have a landlord/tenant issue or just an amazing attorney who listens to his clients needs.

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Thank you Geoff Pfeiffer, for your assistance when my HOA pushed back on my installation of the Solar Panels on my home. Your succinct and eloquent statements of my rights to them turned a “solar panels are not allowed on the front side of the roof, to a 100% approval with no changes needed. Thank you for helping me quickly resolved what was gearing up to be a fight with the HOA.

Zulma Cintron Smalls, EdD

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We couldn’t be more satisfied with Sean’s work and are so grateful we chose him to represent us. He works so diligently and tenaciously to get results, and somehow manages to combine being a consummate professional yet friendly and approachable. I was honestly terrified of receiving the final bill considering the hours upon hours he invested in our case (texts, calls, emails, meetings, etc.) after hearing nightmare lawyer stories from other people, but when I did I was shocked at how little he charged us. I never thought I’d say I wanted to pay somebody more than they charged, yet this time I did. I will never use another lawyer; we will use Sean for any and all representation we will ever need, and I urge others to do the same. Thank you, Sean!

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Lopez Law Group

700 7th Ave N, Suite A,
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

P: 727-933-0015

[email protected]

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