The eviction process in Florida isn’t terribly complicated. However, there are several ways to make a mistake, and those mistakes are usually expensive. They can result in your eviction case being thrown out. In some cases, the tenant you’re trying to evict can sue you for illegal actions.
Any time we talk to rental property owners about eviction, we strongly recommend they work with an experienced landlord and tenant attorney or talk to an Orlando property manager. It protects you and ensures you get your property back as quickly as possible.
Here are some of the most common eviction mistakes we see. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to avoid them.
Not Having a Written Lease Agreement
If you let your tenant move in without a signed lease agreement, it may take you some extra time to evict that tenant. The judge will want to see a lease when you show up in court, trying to get possession of your property back. If you don’t have one, things can get complicated.
Make sure you have your tenants sign a lease agreement that includes your rent collection policy. It should include all the consequences of late or unpaid rent – including eviction. Don’t rely on a verbal agreement. Use a lease template that’s both legally enforceable and legally compliant in Florida.
Not Serving Proper Notice to Orlando Tenants
When your tenant has not paid rent in a month or two, you may think it’s perfectly acceptable to show up in court for the necessary eviction paperwork.
That’s not the way it works.
Before you go to court for the eviction filing, you need to serve a Three Day Notice to your tenants. This will tell them that they have three days to pay the amount of rent that’s due or move out of the property. Don’t skip this step. You won’t go very far in your eviction if you cannot prove this notice was lawfully served to your tenants.
Trying to Lock Out Your Tenants
One of the worst mistakes you can make while evicting your tenants is to do something illegal, such as changing the locks on your own.
We know it’s frustrating when rent isn’t being paid and your tenants are living for free in your property. Sometimes, it seems like the court process doesn’t move fast enough. But, you cannot change the locks on them. You can shut off the water or other utilities. You cannot show up to harass them or provoke fights.
Follow the legal process. It’s the only way to remove them from your property without getting in legal trouble yourself.
Not Being Prepared for Court
When you finally have the opportunity to show up in court and tell the judge why your tenants should be evicted, make sure you’re prepared. It’s a mistake to just show up and expect the court to trust your word. You need to bring copies of:
- Your lease agreement
- Your Three Day Notice
- Any other correspondence regarding overdue rent
- Your accounting ledger that shows unpaid rent accounts
- A copy of your Summons and Complaint
Be ready to demonstrate that you have exhausted every process for getting your tenants to come into compliance and pay the rental amount. When you follow the law to the letter, you’ll get the outcome you want.
These are the most common mistakes, but there are several other ways to commit a misstep when trying to evict your tenant. Get some help from a management company like ours. You can contact us at Park Avenue Property Management. We lease, manage, and maintain residential rental homes throughout central Florida, including Orlando, Lake Buena Vista, Kissimmee, Celebration, Maitland, Altamonte Springs, West Palm Beach, and Tampa Bay.