St. Petersburg Eviction Attorneys
Serving You and The State of Florida
Owning rental properties can be a great investment. In addition to building your property portfolio, you can earn passive income from the rents that your tenants pay. Unfortunately, there are often complications associated with being a landlord – such as what to do when your tenant stops paying rent or violates the lease.
In Florida, you must follow a specific procedure to evict a tenant, whether for cause or without cause. If you fail to follow the law on evictions, then you may not be able to end the tenancy. A St. Petersburg eviction lawyer can help ensure that you have complied with Florida law on evictions, from sending a notice to filing an eviction lawsuit.
At the Lopez Law Group, we advocate for property owners in every aspect of buying, selling, and managing property. With substantial experience in Florida real estate law, we have the knowledge and skill to help you with all types of real estate matters, including evictions. Reach out today to schedule a consultation with a St. Petersburg residential real estate attorney.
The Eviction Process
Under Florida law, a landlord can evict a residential tenant for any number of reasons. However, landlords must follow a specific procedure in order to properly evict a tenant. Failure to do so may result in a court refusing to evict a tenant.
The first step in any eviction is to provide the tenant with proper notice. As outlined below, the type and length of notice will depend on why you are evicting the tenant and what type of rental agreement they have.
At the end of the notice period, if the tenant has not cured any deficiency (if possible), then you can move to the next step: filing an eviction lawsuit. This complaint can be filed with a county court where the rental property is located. This complaint must contain the following information:
- Name of the landlord (plaintiff)
- Name of the tenant (defendant)
- Location of the property
- An averment that the plaintiff owns the property
- The rental agreement details (i.e., rent amount plus when the rent is due).
- Information about any violation, such as nonpayment of rent.
- A statement about when the required notice was served, and that the tenant refused to either cure the violation or vacate the property.
A copy of the lease and the eviction notice is typically attached to the complaint.
Once the complaint has been filed, it should also be served on the tenant. The tenant will then have 5 business days to answer the complaint. If the tenant does not answer the complaint, then you can seek a default final judgment entered against the tenant.
However, if the tenant contests the eviction, then the judge will schedule a hearing, where they will hear evidence and arguments. A tenant may present defenses to eviction. If the judge finds it in your favor after a hearing, then a final judgment will be issued in your favor.
If the tenant has still not vacated the property after a final judgment has been entered, then you can obtain a Writ of Possession from the court. With a Writ of Possession, the County Sheriff will work with the landlord to remove the tenant, change the locks if necessary, and remove any of the tenant’s personal belongings.
Evictions can be complicated, and failure to follow one or more of these steps may result in a judgment in favor of the tenant. The best way to ensure that your eviction is done properly and in accordance with Florida law is to work with a skilled St. Petersburg eviction attorney.
Notice Requirements for Florida Evictions
In an eviction for cause – such as nonpayment of rent, lease violations, or illegal actions – the landlord must provide the tenant with written notice of termination. The type and timing of this notice will depend on the reason for the eviction.
For failure to pay rent, a landlord must give the tenant a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit. This notice must state that the tenant has 3 days (excluding weekends and holidays) to either pay their outstanding rent or move out of the unit. If the tenant does not pay the rent within 3 days, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.
If a tenant violates the lease or rental agreement and the violation can be “cured,” then a landlord must provide a 7-day notice to cure. This notice states that the tenant has 7 days to come back into compliance with the rental agreement, or the landlord will terminate the tenancy. If the tenant does not cure or fix the issue, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit with the local court.
If a tenant intentionally destroys the rental property or other tenants’ property, creates unreasonable disturbances, or repeats the same lease violation within a 12-month period, a landlord can issue a 7day unconditional quit notice. This notice informs that the tenant must move out of the rental unit within 7 days, or the landlord will file an eviction lawsuit. This type of notice can only be used in limited circumstances, as described above.
There are some situations where a landlord wishes to terminate a lease without cause. The ability to do this depends on the type of rental agreement – fixed-term or month-to-month.
For a fixed-term lease, a landlord must wait until the end of the rental term to terminate the tenancy. A landlord does not have to provide notice to a tenant unless the lease specifically requires them to do so. If the tenant does not ask to renew the lease, then the landlord can automatically terminate the tenancy at the end of the lease.
However, if a tenant is on a month-to-month lease or rental agreement, the landlord will need to provide 15 days’ written notice. This notice must inform the tenant that their tenancy will end in 15 days, and so they must move out at that time. If the rental agreement is for a different amount of time – such as year-to-year – then a landlord is required to give a shorter or longer period of notice, depending on the length of the tenancy.
These rules may seem burdensome – and they can often be challenging for landlords, particularly when a tenant isn’t paying rent or is otherwise violating the terms of their lease. The laws were designed to protect tenants and ensure that they have enough time to find a new place to live before being evicted.
How a St. Petersburg Eviction Lawyer Can Help
Many landlords assume that they can handle the eviction process on their own – and in some situations, that is true. However, there are a number of potential pitfalls in the process that can make it much harder and more expensive to evict a tenant. For this reason, it is often far more cost-effective to hire a St. Petersburg eviction attorney.
Any mistake in the paperwork or notice requirements can force you to restart the eviction process. FOr every day that a problem tenant remains in possession of your property, you are losing money – particularly if they are not paying rent or are damaging your property. A lawyer who is familiar with Florida’s landlord and tenant law and local court procedures can streamline the process and make it far easier and less stressful for you as the property owner.
In addition to helping you avoid costly mistakes, hiring a lawyer can help you optimize your time. Many landlords have full-time jobs or own other businesses. It takes time and effort to figure out how to evict a tenant legally under Florida law. Hiring someone who already has the necessary knowledge and skills is a far better use of your limited time than trying to do it yourself.
If you own rental properties, an attorney can help you with every aspect of the process, from purchasing real estate to drafting leases to evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent or lease violations. They will protect your interests and your investment, helping you maximize the value of your property.
I Provided Notice to My Tenant, But They Won’t Leave. Can I Change the Locks?
No. Florida law prohibits “self-help” evictions of tenants in residential properties. A tenant can only be removed from a rental unit after a landlord has won an eviction lawsuit. At this point, a sheriff or constable can remove the tenant.
Engaging in self-help evictions or other illegal eviction procedures can lead to a lawsuit. Tenants can file a lawsuit against a landlord for removing or attempting to remove them without an eviction order. Contact the Lopez Law Group to talk to a St. Petersburg eviction lawyer about how to properly and legally evict a tenant.
My Tenant Left Property at My Rental Unit. What Should I Do with It?
If a tenant moves out and leaves property behind, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing of the abandoned personal items. This notice must give the tenant at least 10days to claim the property if the notice was personally delivered, or 15 days if it was mailed. After that period of time, the landlord can sell or dispose of the property. Landlords can also charge the former tenant reasonable storage costs.
If you have questions about how to handle an eviction, the Lopez Law Group can help. As experienced eviction attorneys in St. Petersburg, FL, we have substantial experience guiding clients through each step of the eviction process.
How Long Will an Eviction Take?
It depends. If a tenant doesn’t contest the eviction and moves out in response to a notice of termination, it could take as little as a week to get possession of your property. However, if the tenant contests the eviction or if you have to go to a hearing, it could take 4 to 6 weeks to complete the eviction process.
In some cases, an eviction can take even longer – such as situations where a tenant has a viable defense against eviction. The Lopez Law Group can help make sure that the process is as smooth as possible. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an eviction lawyer in St. Petersburg, FL.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
If you own investment properties in or around St. Petersburg, it is absolutely necessary that you have a solid understanding of Florida real estate law – or that you have someone to call who can explain the law to you. An experienced eviction attorney can ensure that when your tenants become difficult, you can evict them properly and in accordance with Florida law.
The Lopez Law Group represents investors and property owners in every type of real estate matter. We work hard to protect our clients’ interests and to help them achieve the best possible outcome for their situation. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, give us a call at 727-933-0015 or fill out our online contact form.
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What Our Clients Say
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!