Owning commercial real estate in Florida can be a fantastic business investment. Unfortunately, life as a commercial landlord is not without its challenges.
When you decided to lease your vacant commercial property to a business, you may have expected to be able to just sit back and wait for the rent checks to arrive each month. Now you find yourself up against one of the most frustrating problems a commercial landlord can face: a tenant who isn't paying rent but won't vacate the premises.
Not to worry, Good Life Legal Services is dedicated to helping commercial landlords like you reclaim their property and collect back rent payments. If you have a tenant who's behind in rent, but refuses to leave, here's what you need to know about the commercial evictions process in Florida, your rights as a landlord, and how you can benefit from our firm's creative solutions and common sense legal representation.
Steps in the Commercial Eviction Process
If your tenant refuses to make lease payments, you can evict them. However, an eviction is a lot more complicated than simply telling your tenant to leave the property. The process for evicting a commercial tenant is clearly defined by state law and, as a landlord, you must follow this process exactly to ensure you're within your rights. The basic steps in a Florida commercial eviction include:
- An official warning. Before evicting a commercial tenant for non-payment of rent, you must give them at least three days notice.
- Filing a complaint with the court. If the tenant still refuses to vacate the property after the expiration of the warning notice, you can file a complaint requesting a court-ordered eviction. The tenant has five days to respond after being served the complaint.
- Claims and counterclaims. After receiving the complaint, the tenant may choose to file an objection. If they do, you have the option to respond to their claims. In some cases, a tenant may opt to settle the matter in the claims and counterclaims phase to avoid further litigation.
- Court proceedings. If a settlement can't be reached in the claims and counterclaims step, the case moves to court where it will most likely be heard and decided by a judge, rather than a jury. In Florida, most eviction cases are ruled in the landlord's favor, unless the judge finds a valid legal basis for the suspension of lease payments (and resulting breach of contract).
Forcefully Evicting a Commercial Tenant in Florida
After a judge rules in your favor, the tenant will be notified that they have five days to vacate your property. Ideally, this would be the end of the story. In a perfect world, the commercial tenant would pack up, leave, and make the back lease payments they owe. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen—and when a tenant digs in their heels and refuses to leave, you may have to enlist the help of the local sheriff, who can put a lock on the door to keep the evicted tenants out.
Once the non-paying tenants are out of your commercial space, you can pack up their belongings and send them a notice informing them that they have 18 days to collect them. If the former tenant fails to retrieve the possessions they left behind, they can be sold or discarded.
Why You Need an Experienced Attorney
Florida's commercial evictions process can be complex, complicated, and confusing. You need a knowledgeable and experienced contract litigation attorney to help you protect your rights and ensure you don't inadvertently run afoul of the law in doing so. Additionally, you'll need a skilled attorney if you hope to recover any of the payments your former tenants owe.
Our Skilled Contract Litigation Attorney Can Help You Protect Your Rights—and Your Property
If you have a commercial tenant who's behind in rent and refuses to leave, there's far too much at stake to go it alone. Good Life Legal Services can provide the aggressive and effective representation you need to make a fair recovery. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a complimentary review of your case.