How To Evict A Tenant (Part 1) - An
Overview of Landlord Tenant Law
This is Part One of a series of articles written to assist the
Florida landlord in learning How To Evict A Tenant. The
subject matter of articles is litigation arising out of the landlord tenant relationship. These articles, however,
are not intended to be a comprehensive examination of all aspects of landlord tenant law but, instead, is limited
to a overall discussion regarding the most significant areas of disagreement between the landlord and the
Additionally, each of these articles are written based on the
current status of Florida’s landlord and tenant laws, including a detailed discussion of the 3 Day Eviction Notice.
However, these articles are for general knowledge only and are not intended, in any way whatever, to constitute
legal advice. Prior to following any recommendations found in these articles, please consult an attorney duly
licensed in your state, particularly an eviction attorney.
There are four basic types of landlord tenant relationships in
Florida: the residential tenancy, the commercial tenancy, the mobile home tenancy, and self-service storage
tenancy. Prior to the legislature’s passing of Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes (the “Landlord Tenant Act”) back
in 1973, each of these four tenancies were treated the same and the law drew no legal distinctions between them.
With that said, unless case law is specifically in contradiction to the now governing Florida statutes or overruled
by later case law, cases decided prior to 1973 are still valid.
In any case, the relationship between the landlord and the tenant
is created by a rental agreement often referred to as the “lease” or “lease agreement.” Although it has a specific
definition for each individual tenancy, a rental agreement is generally defined as a contract between two or more
parties for the conveyance of a specific estate in real property for a specific duration of time. As such, Florida
law creates a fiction whereby the tenant is treated as the “owner,” at least for a certain determinate period of
time, of a leasehold estate in the rental property. Eviction is the process by which the tenant’s “leasehold
estate” is terminated or forfeited.
Contrary to the belief of many Florida landlords, there is no
general right of “self-help,” meaning, in a nutshell, that the landlord is not entitled to, without Court approval,
to take back their rental property by force including, but not limited to, changing the locks and denying the
tenant access to the premises. The only right the landlord has in relation to recapturing possession of his or her
rental property is to bring an action against the tenant for eviction.
The landlord’s right to seek an eviction is triggered upon the
tenant’s default of his or her obligations under the lease agreement. The most common default by a tenant is the
failure to pay the rent as it becomes due.
In the event the tenant fails to pay his or her rental
obligations, the landlord is entitled to both sue to evict the tenant as well as to sue for a judgment in the
amount of the past due rent, plus any other damages awardable under the lease agreement. However, in today’s
economic environment, most of the defaulting tenants are not paying their rent because they simply cannot afford to
do so. As such, suing the tenant for a monetary damage award is less than ideal for the landlord since such action
requires an investment of significant time and resources, both of which are typically better served rehabilitating
the rental property and obtaining a tenant that, ideally, pays the rent.
Additional Articles In This Series Can Be Found As
How To Evict A Tenant in Florida (Part 1) can be reached by
clicking this link: An Overview of Landlord Tenant Law;
How To Evict A Tenant in Florida (Part 2): 3
Day Eviction Notice;
How To Evict A Tenant in Florida (Part 3): Tenants Rights And The 3 Day Eviction
How To Evict A Tenant in Florida (Part 4): Tenant Service of the 3 Day Eviction
How To Evict A Tenant in Florida (Part 5): The Eviction Complaint.