Central Florida business owners, investors, and property managers can expect a high level of personal service with J & J Legal handling their commercial eviction matters. Although most frequently, these evictions involve the failure to pay rent, we also handle evictions based on violations of the lease or statutorily imposed duties or holding over after expiration of the lease term.
Because Florida’s Landlord Tenant Statute outlines various rules and procedures with respect to commercial evictions, having an experienced real estate attorney handle these matters can make the difference between a quick, efficient, and cost-effective eviction as opposed to a prolonged, costly eviction. An overview of a typical commercial eviction process highlights some of the key areas in which qualified representation matters.
Prior to filing an eviction complaint, the landlord or its agent must serve the tenant with written notice. For failure to pay rent, the tenant must be served with a written 3-day notice, which as the name implies, provides the tenant three (3) days to pay the alleged rent due or vacate the premises. The notice must include a description of the property—typically the address—and the address to which payment shall be made. Although a property manager can post the 3-day notice at the property, a property manager cannot represent a landlord/owner in court, particularly in a contested eviction proceeding or in a situation where the owner/landlord is a business entity.
If the eviction is predicated on a violation of the lease or other regulations, the tenant must also be served with a written notice and be given an opportunity to cure the breach. If the eviction is based on the tenant holding over after expiration of the lease term, the landlord/owner is entitled to demand and collect double rent during the holdover period.
Serving or posting an improper notice that fails to contain all the statutorily required items will result in the eviction action being stayed.
The Distress Writ
Distress writs are invaluable in the commercial eviction context as they prevent the tenant from removing equipment and/or goods from the premises during the pendency of the eviction. Defaulting tenants are prohibited from taking valuable property off-site and leaving the commercial landlord/owner with no assets to levy or liquidate in lieu of rent. A bond must be posted to obtain a distress writ and tenant’s violation of the distress writ is grounds for sanctions and contempt of court.
The Eviction Complaint
Eviction Complaints typically include an action for possession (Count I) and may also include a second claim for damages (Count II). We recommend clients file a separate complaint for eviction and damages in order to regain possession of the commercial property as quickly as possible. If there is a written lease, a copy must be attached to the Complaint as well as a copy of the notice. Evictions must be filed in the county where the commercial property is located and are entitled to summary or expedited procedure.
Obtaining a Judgment
The landlord is entitled to a default if an answer to the eviction complaint is not timely filed or the tenant does not comply with certain statutory procedures, including payment of accrued rent into the Court Registry. We caution commercial owners, investors, and property managers not to accept any rent from the tenant during the pendency of the eviction case as it “constitutes the waiver of the landlord’s right to proceed with an eviction claim for nonpayment of that rent.” Fla. Stat. § 83.202. A landlord, owner, or investor obtaining a judgment for possession and money damages may also be entitled to its attorney’s fees and costs.
Writ of Possession
The motion for final judgment and proposed final judgment we file on behalf of our landlord/owner clients will direct the Clerk of Court to issue a writ of possession, which describes the property and commands the Sheriff to put the landlord/owner in possession. After the Clerk executes the writ of possession, the local county Sheriff’s Office will need to serve or execute the writ and charges $90.00 for this service. At any time after the writ of possession is executed, the landlord/owner may dispose of property left by the tenant any secure the property by changing the locks.
If you own or manage commercial property in Central Florida and have questions about your rights or the eviction process, please contact our office today. We charge a flat fee for commercial evictions and look forward to providing effective solutions for your commercial real estate needs.