Are you looking to move on from the current tenants in your Florida property? Do you dread the idea of giving a tenant an eviction notice, but need them to leave? If so, then you need to learn all that you can about the defenses that tenants use to fight an eviction in Florida.
As you may assume, some tenants won’t go willingly. Even if they don’t have a proper cause, they’ll try to fight the eviction to stay in their current location.
See below for an in-depth guide on the defenses your tenants may try and how you should approach them.
1. “My Landlord Has Neglected the Property”
As the landlord or owner of the property, you are legally required to keep the residential property in good shape and provide maintenance or repairs whenever they’re necessary. Almost all landlords understand that.
However, landlords are also responsible for learning about (and abiding by) the housing regulations that their city, county, or state governments have outlined for the condition of local properties. It’s important to have a lawyer who can help ensure that your property complies with these laws.
If not, then your tenant might have grounds for a defense. Technically speaking, if the landlord doesn’t maintain the property according to the laws in your city, state, etc. then the tenant isn’t required to pay you to rent until the issues are fixed.
So when you’re attempting to evict them for not paying their rent, they’ll claim that you never kept up with repairs, thus, they have a complete defense against your attempted eviction.
Thankfully, there is a defense that you can use to combat their claims. If the tenant plans to exercise this defense, they have to give you a proper notification.
This notice is to be handed to either yourself, your property manager, or a designated representative on your behalf.
There needs to be a time window of seven days before this becomes a worthy defense. This time window starts from the moment the notice was delivered to the landlord and ends when, after seven days, the tenant still has not paid the rent.
2. “I Wasn’t Given Proper Notice”
This is a typical response when people want to get their way. It’s the equivalent of an employee ignoring the instructions of their boss and then claiming “I didn’t hear you,” when they’re confronted about it.
That said, the way you handle the eviction is of the utmost importance. If you try to sabotage this process in any way, your tenant will notice and have proper cause for how to fight an eviction.
First, get with an experienced landlord/tenant attorney to understand proper lease enforcement. They can help ensure that your eviction notice includes all of the required information and will give strict instructions for the tenant to follow if they wish to avoid being evicted.
Next, provide that written notice to the tenant. As we mentioned earlier, this should either be handed to them by yourself, someone you designated on your behalf, or your Florida property manager.
Any eviction has to include a 3-day notice in Florida. One loophole to avoid: make sure that the three-day period does not include a Florida legal holiday. If it does, then the tenant can claim they weren’t given the full three-day period for the eviction to take effect.
3. “I Paid My Rent, Just Not to My Landlord”
Believe it or not, this defense can hold some ground in a trial. If you and your tenant are in the middle of a disagreement with a repair of the property, then they aren’t required to pay you rent. This is the “complete defense” we mentioned earlier.
That said, they may still choose to set the money aside into a separate account. Most tenants won’t go to this length to avoid paying rent. Even if they do, they’re required to give you notice of their intention to put that month’s rent into a separate account.
Be ready to defend your decision not to make certain repairs that the tenant had been requesting.
4. “I Don’t Have the Money At the Moment”
This is nothing new to landlords. If you’ve been renting out a property for long enough, you’ll eventually come across a tenant that tells you they “don’t have the money to pay right now.”
Whatever their reasoning for not paying rent, you still have cause to go through with eviction if they do not pay within the 3-day period you’ve given them.
If they do pay within that window, they’ll have to pay the full amount that’s due (including any previous months of unpaid rent). If this occurs, you can’t proceed with the tenant eviction.
5. “I Didn’t Have Access to My Home”
Like we’ve mentioned, there’s a right way to evict someone and there are several wrong ways to go about it. Don’t let your frustration lead to anything drastic.
If you’ve restricted your tenant’s access to their home during the dispute in any way, then they have a legitimate defense against your eviction.
This can include things like changing the locks on the doors, removing their belongings from the property, or attempting to cut off resources like gas or electricity. Just stick with the written eviction notice and let your lawyer guide you on how to proceed. Don’t give them any ammunition.
Handle Your Eviction in Florida With Class
Now that you have seen an in-depth guide on the most common defenses that tenants use to fight the eviction in Florida, use this information wisely.
Take the time to read this article for more information on the top reasons that tenants get evicted in Florida. To get started, call us directly at 954-781-1441 and we will be happy to assist you further.