Eviction Process Explained

Eviction is never a preferred option, but sometimes it's the only alternative. I found this excellent video that explains the eviction process. It's good information for tenants and owners to understand.

Some tips for tenants, if you are unable to pay your rent on time, call and advise you will be late. If there is no communication and three days pass after the rent is due, you will receive a three day notice.

The Three-Day Notice is a condition precedent and jurisdictionally required notice which must be given in a non-payment of rent situation in order for the landlord to proceed to filing an eviction action. It is a very specific notice, clearly spelled out in Florida Statutes, must be of a certain form, with specific rent items only allowed, and it must be prepared and served properly in order for it to be a valid Three-Day Notice.

 

 

 

 

At Showcase Property Management, we do our very best to place credible tenants, but life happens and unfortunately we are forced to file an eviction.

I have dealt with tenants in the past who thought they could prolong the eviction process and remain in a property without paying rent. This is NOT the case.

Eviction is the last resort, we don't want to place people out of their homes, but sometimes there's just no other option. 

Why Vinyl Plank is the Best Choice for a Rental

feature post by Kevin Hotaling, Finest Floors of Brevard

When choosing a floor covering for an investment property, there are many factors to consider.  Typically the first concern is cost, followed by durability and then looks.  Usually, the least expensive option is carpet.  However, carpet generally does not stand up well to the rigors of a rental situation.  This means that the landlord usually has to replace the floor covering after every tenant.  This also means that the tenant may have to be more careful for fear of not getting their security deposit back.  This is where vinyl plank comes in.  Here are some of the features of vinyl plank:

1. PVC Construction

2.Durable Vinyl wear layer

3. Glue down installation

Benefits of vinyl plank include

1. Very water resistant

2. Has 10 yr-20 year warranty

3. Damaged plank easily replaced (floor will last longer)

4. Some have “nano silver technology” prohibits mold/mildew growth

5. Ease of maintenance

6. Peace of mind for owner and tenant

Choosing a vinyl plank as your next floor covering would be a wise decision. There would most certainly be a higher up front cost in choosing a vinyl plank (versus a carpet), but the benefits and durability of the plank would negate that cost.  The cost of floor covering for that unit over time would be reduced as the need to replace the existing floor covering would also be greatly reduced.  Overall, vinyl plank is a great choice for homes as well as rentals because of its durability, ease of maintenance and ease of repair.
Video has contact information for Finest Floors of Brevard.

ENTRE VOUS part trois

     Many times, a landlord must enter a tenant’s apartment, condominium or house to do repair work.  In this instance, at least twelve hours notice must be given by the landlord to the tenant.

     Florida State Law, FS 83.53 provides that the landlord may enter the rental “upon reasonable notice to the tenant and at a reasonable time for the purpose of repair of the premises.” Note that this is access for repair only. Reasonable notice for repair purposes is “notice given at least 12 hours prior to the entry”. Reasonable time for repair is “between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.” Outside of consent, the most common method to gain access for repair is by posting on the door a notice to enter the next day. Although the statute provides that 12 hours is reasonable notice, the 12.5 hour reasonable time window for access makes same day notice and access totally impractical for non-emergency repairs.

     Because the statute provides for a 12-hour notice and 7:30-8:00 time for repairs, these have become the safe harbor as reasonable notice and time for all notices and entries. If the entry is for something that a reasonable person (read here “a judge”) would think needs more notice, then more notice should be given. While a day’s notice may be sufficient for repair of the sink faucet drip, more notice would be reasonable for carpet replacement, when the resident would be required to clear a room or rooms of everything but furniture. Landlords are reminded that the preferred method of entry in all situations is a mutually satisfactory time and date with the resident.


ENTRE VOUS part deux

     Last time we discussed the Landlord’s legal way to enter a tenant’s apartment, condominium or house and the importance of including reasons for entry in the lease.  No landlord wants to be confronted by the tenant’s lawyer for violating the tenant’s right to privacy.  This week we discuss consent by a tenant, written, verbal or implied.

     When a tenant signs a lease on an apartment, condominium or house, there is tacit agreement that the landlord may enter due to a busted pipe or other damage.  The basis for this access is the “implied” consent of the resident allowing entry in response to the resident’s request for repair, or the lease obligation to provide periodic service or maintenance. A landlord’s reliance on implied consent may be more reasonable when it is in response to a request for maintenance or repair. A landlord’s reliance on implied consent may be unreasonable when service or maintenance is conducted that is infrequent and likely unexpected by the resident, such as unannounced service of the smoke alarms or air conditioner.

     The most common method of gaining access is obtaining consent of the resident, whether it be for inspections, services, repairs, or showings. In response to a phone call or email, the resident approves the entry into the rental. If the resident’s approval is over the phone, the landlord should make a note in the resident’s file of the authorization, including time, date and initials of the staff member who spoke to the resident.


WITHOUT EXCEPTION

     So, you have a couple looking at one of your open units at your condominium building, very personable and they look like a responsible pair of people. You check their backgrounds and see some financial information that causes you to re-think their application. However, you want to rent the unit and you now want to place a clause in the lease that provides in the event the resident files bankruptcy, you as the landlord will be excluded from the effects of the bankruptcy, and that the resident cannot use the bankruptcy as a way to stop or suspend paying the rent.

     Sounds like a great idea but it is not possible. If it were possible, then every creditor would have this type of clause in their contracts.  Their lawyer and the judge would laugh you right out of court.  These clauses are completely unenforceable, however badly you want to cover all your bases. When you own or manage a building full of condominiums or apartments, all landlords take a risk that their residents may file bankruptcy, and there is simply nothing you can do about it.

     If you receive notice that your resident has filed bankruptcy, call your attorney immediately.   Your attorney may or may not be able to place a lien or something similar on their income, other property or anything he or she may be able to find.  Get to know your eviction laws in your city, county and/or state as well. See what you can do to protect you and your property.


TIME ON OUR HANDS

     There comes a time when some tenants want a month-to-month lease (or a non-renewal).   It could be a college student who is in their last year and doesn’t want to get stuck owing months of rent that’s left on a lease.  It could be a family buying their first house and requires a few months to get everything together.  Or, they’re looking for what they feel is a better bargain in another complex, house or condominium.  Regardless, how do you, as the landlord, handle the end-of-term notices?

     First, what is a month-to-month?  A month to month tenancy is created when the landlord allows the resident to stay after the expiration of the lease agreement, or in the event that there was never even a lease in the fist place and the resident pays monthly. The resident presumably continues to pay the rent money until such time as either the landlord or the resident decides to terminate the tenancy.

     What about the rent and notice?  If there is a short-notice (usually less than 15 days) the renter typically owed for the entire month.  The landlord’s non-renewal notice to the tenant must be accurate concerning this date. It is usually a good idea to “cross-notice” the resident with your own notice of non-renewal.  Please see your real estate attorney for a proper notice or cross-notice.

     Be careful with partial-acceptance of rent for the last month.  Often a resident will not give you proper notice OR will give you a partial rent payment covering the time period in which they will stay. If you accept that partial payment, you may be accepting the “terms” of the resident’s notice, be it proper or improper. If you take a partial rent payment when the resident has given you insufficient notice, you may not be able to charge the resident for the remaining days in the month in which he leaves, even if he has otherwise given you proper notice.


ESTOPPEL…NO, NOT PIG LATIN

     Let’s say you’re a landlord who’s got a tenant that’s been paying late for a few months or usually pays half her rent on the sixth (after the fee start date) then pays the rest at the end of the month.  You accept the partial payments because, well, gosh darnnit, you’re so nice and you feel sorry for the renter. She comes up with sob stories and excuses that are always out of her control.

On the seventh month, you get tired of the constant late payments, whining and excuses.  So you start eviction procedures and wish her well. 

     In court, you see an attorney by her side; she’s looking pretty happy and snappy. She looks at you and winks.  Her lawyer pipes up and asks the judge to throw out the case based on the doctrine of Estoppel. The judge agrees. The same result often happens when the property manager constantly accepts partial payments.

     Courts will rule that the doctrine of estoppel will apply if : 1. Words and admissions, or conduct, acts, or all combined cause another person to believe the existence of a certain state of things 2. In which the person speaking, admitting, acting and acquiescing did so willfully, culpably, or negligently, 3. By which such other person is or may be induced to act so as to change her own previous position injuriously. What does that mean? If the property manager is giving the impression to the tenant that the terms of the lease need not be followed, then the landlord seriously jeopardizes her ability to enforce the terms of the lease.

     So, in the future, follow the rules of the lease term agreements to the letter.  No matter how sorry you feel for the renter.  You may be bosom buddies longer than you wanted.


PEEKABO APPLICANTS

There are five tenants applying for your home that you placed on the market (meaning, you put a craigslist ad in your area).  Four of them look ok, steady jobs, good and stable rental history for the past few years and they all have verifiable jobs.  The last applicant doesn’t list the previous landlord’s physical address, phone number or email address, nor do they list employers, stating ‘self-employment’. 

     What do you do?  Your suspicions raise red flags so you fire up your trusty desktop computer, head to some online background verification websites and plug in that last applicant’s name and social security number.  You want to find out if there is any criminal background activity or if they are house jumping to avoid paying deposits or rent and the big one, were they foreclosed on?  But, is what you’re doing ethical and/or legal?

     Well, the problem is that unless you check the public records of every applicant in a given similar situation, you may run afoul of fair housing laws, as you may not be treating all the applicants equally. You need to create a written plan and a policy which will determine under what circumstances you will check the public records and how far you will go with this. As part of this decision and plan, you will need to determine what counties you will check, and understand that in some counties, the information is not readily available and would require written requests or payment for information.

     In the event of foreclosure, there are two story versions. The first version is where the applicant tells you that she was living in a home, and the owner of the home got foreclosed on, forcing her to move. The other story is the applicant was the actual owner of a single family home, was foreclosed on and had to move.  If the applicant was the tenant who “supposedly” had to move, you need to verify this. You MUST verify the story, and all you need to do is look at the public records, put in the owner’s name in the civil court records to find the foreclosure, or put in the property address in the tax appraiser’s records and begin to dig. If the owner was truly foreclosed upon, you will find that information in the court records.


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.