STOP! IN THE NAME OF…

     You’ve filed numerous eviction notices the past few months on residents for numerous reasons.  Late or no pay, noise violations, trash, vandalism, and the list goes on.  One of your slow or late payers suddenly comes into your office with a money order for $2000 to cover the past rent.  You begin thinking of the empty apartments/condos/homes you have on the property, other late payers and begin to reconsider the eviction on this particular resident.  Afterall, two grand will certainly help in these troubled times.

     So, you accept the money order, call your attorney to stop the eviction and all is sunshine, daisies and buttermilk.  Not so fast…have you thought this through?   Your attorney will want to get paid, regardless if you stop the eviction, courts will want to get paid for any time they’ve put in.  Did you as the resident to cover that?  Did you include that in your eviction notice?  If not, guess who pays that.  That’s right, you do. 

     No one wants to evict a resident and if the said resident ponies up that lost money, everyone’s copasetic, right?  The lease may state that the resident is liable for all attorney’s fees and costs, but by accepting the rent and voiding the eviction, a resident can fight you on this, especially if she did not realize that you would be trying to take the money owed from the security deposit when she vacated.


ABANDON HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE

Your client, the landlord, hasn’t heard from the renter in weeks, the rent is late and neighbors state they saw the people in question taking bags of items, furniture, etc., from the place for a few days the previous month.  They didn’t think anything of it, seeing as people were fumigating their own homes and gosh darnit, the neighbors did have the cutest little bulldog.  Fleas, you know. 

     The landlord enters the home and finds all the furniture gone, crumpled newspapers strewn across the floors, nail holes in the walls with bits of wire hanging from them.  In the kitchen there are odd cans of hash and spinach in the cupboards, something green in the fridge and the backyard has old broken lawn chairs.  Have the tenants abandoned the property or are they merely cleaning and renovating their lives?

     In his article/essay, Abandonment of the Premises, Michael Geo. F. Davis, Attorney at Law, discusses the nitty gritty details.  In this post, generally, a landlord must determine the value of the property left behind.  Under $500, not worth filing an eviction notice; over $500, file that puppy. 

     The actual law, Florida Statute 83.59(3)(c) sets forth how abandonment of the rental unit is determined: (c) When the tenant has abandoned the dwelling unit. In the absence of actual knowledge of abandonment, it shall be presumed that the tenant has abandoned the dwelling unit if he or she is absent from the premises for a period of time equal to one-half the time for periodic rental payments. However, this presumption does not apply if the rent is current or the tenant has notified the landlord, in writing, of an intended absence.