Failure to Pay Rent
When someone experiences financial hardship, one of the most challenging and scary aspects is being unable to afford your home. If someone is renting, failure to pay rent can result in eviction, which is stressful for everyone. While the tenant must deal with the possibility of losing his or her home, landlords face stress of instituting legal proceedings, as well as making sure that eviction procedures are properly followed, and that they are able to take possession of the property. Often, eviction is a last resort; eviction proceedings can be time-consuming and costly in addition to the subsequent process of finding a new tenant. When tenants fail to pay rent, and landlords are considering eviction, Florida law has strict rules governing the process.
Eviction in Florida
Eviction procedure in Florida varies based on whether the eviction is sought for a failure to pay rent, or some other violation of the rental agreement. According to Florida Law, if a tenant has failed to pay rent, then the landlord’s first step must be to make a written demand for payment.
If the tenant fails to pay the rent for three business days after the written demand, the landlord can then terminate the rental agreement. Once the agreement is terminated, the landlord can file an action for possession, which will begin the process by which the landlord takes possession of the premises back from the tenant via the legal system (or what is generally known as “eviction”). If the landlord is granted possession, then a notice is posted on the premises for 24 hours, after which the landlord can remove any of the tenant’s personal property from the premises and change the locks. Once eviction occurs, the landlord is still required to comply with the laws regarding the use of the security deposit paid by the tenant.
Payment of Back Rent
If a tenant is behind on rent payments, he or she may try to provide some sort of payment to the landlord in order to keep his or her home. If the landlord accepts full payment of rent from the tenant, knowing that the tenant is behind on the rent, then the payment is considered to satisfy the rent owed, and the landlord can no longer pursue eviction of the tenant. However, while the tenant may not face eviction for the payment made, he or she is still liable for all of the rent that was not paid. For example, the payment of one month’s rent by a tenant who was two months behind would most likely be applied to the first month of missing rent. The landlord’s acceptance of payment will only waive his right to evict for the first month, but the landlord would still be able to evict based on the second month’s missing rent (which remains unpaid).
Similarly, a tenant can make a partial payment. In this case the landlord would then have a few options, which include demanding the remainder of the rent within three days of the partial payment, or placing the partial payment in a registry of the court and proceeding with the demand of possession.
Whether you’re a tenant or a landlord, it is important to understand how the eviction process works. Knowing whether or not the proper procedures are being followed, and how that affects your rights, can be crucial in ensuring that your receive the best possible outcome in court. If you or a loved one is involved in a landlord-tenant dispute in Saint Petersburg, having a skilled attorney who can advise you of your legal rights and review your options is essential. Contact Carnal & Mansfield, P.A. for a consultation today.