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Web Articles
        The Florida Statutory Procedure for
                          Evicting Tenants

Commercial Tenants

A landlord of commercial property whose tenant has failed to
pay their rent in accordance with the terms of the lease
agreement and who has not waived their right to evict the
tenant begins the process of evicting their tenant for such non-
payment of rent by providing the tenant with a written notice
that demands either payment of the unpaid rent or that the
tenant vacate the leased premises and possession of the
leased premises be delivered to the landlord.  Such written
notice allows three days from the date the written notice is
served upon the tenant for the past due rent to be paid to the
landlord or the tenant to vacate the leased premises.  The
notice should be delivered to the tenant in such a manner as to
provide written evidence that the notice was in fact received by
the tenant and such notice should be in accordance with any
applicable provisions of the underlying lease.  There are
statutory provisions which address the situation of a commercial
tenant that can not be located and therefore can not be
personally provided with the written notice, but significant
efforts should be made to attempt to locate the tenant and
provide them with the notice directly because mailing the notice
to the tenant will extend the time tenant has to respond to the
notice.

If, in response to the written notice, the tenant does not pay
landlord all of the rent that is due and payable then the landlord
may terminate the lease agreement and the tenant will either
surrender the leased premises to the landlord or continue to
occupy the leased premises.

If the tenant continues to occupy the leased premises after the
landlord has terminated the lease agreement then the landlord
must bring suit to evict the tenant to recover possession of the
premises.  It is in county courts that a complaint for the  eviction
of a commercial tenant will be filed and it is within the county
courts that such cases are normally heard.  Fortunately Florida
statutes allow for summary proceedings for eviction matters
therefore the landlord is able to somewhat speed the removal
of the tenant because such summary proceedings have shorter
time frames and deadlines than typical county civil proceedings.

After the complaint is filed with the county courts, it must then
be served upon the tenant.  As with the three day written
notice, there are statutory provisions for serving complaints
upon tenants who can not be personally served with the
complaint but again, every effort should be made to serve such
tenants personally before resorting to the less direct means
which courts often scrutinize to ensure the tenant’s rights are
protected.

When a complaint to evict a tenant has been filed by a landlord
and when so ordered by the court, usually at the request of the
landlord, the tenant must pay into the registry of the court in
which the case has been filed the rent that is claimed due and
payable in the complaint or, if the amount of rent due and
payable is contested, the amount of rent determined by the
court.  Then, throughout the pendency of the eviction case, the
tenant must continue to pay into the registry of the court any
rent that accrues.  If the tenant fails to pay rent into the court
registry after being ordered to do so by the court, the tenant will
be deemed to have waived all of their defenses to the
allegations included in the complaint.  In such event, the tenant
will have no defenses against the claims included in the
complaint and the landlord will be entitled to an immediate order
from the court granting those remedies requested in the
complaint and possession of the leased premises would be
given to the landlord without further notice or additional
hearings.

If the tenant does not waive their defenses to the allegations
included in the complaint then the case will continue to trial.  If
the court rules in favor of the landlord then a judgment will be
entered that releases the rent from the court registry to the
landlord, removes the tenant from the leased premises, and
delivers possession of the premises to the landlord.  Where
demanded in the complaint and where appropriate, the court
may also enter a monetary judgment in favor of the commercial
landlord that may include costs.

After a judgment has been entered in favor of the commercial
landlord, the clerk of court shall issue a writ to the local sheriff
that orders the sheriff to put the landlord in possession of the
leased premises.

If the court, however, rules in favor of the tenant, then a
judgment will be entered that directs the court registry to
release the rent to the designated party or parties, dismisses
the complaint, and leaves the tenant in possession of the
leased premises.  In such an event, the tenant may also be
awarded costs.

A commercial landlord must be aware that the acceptance of
past due rent or past due charges could result in the landlord
waiving their right to evict the tenant, therefore landlords must
be cognizant of this if they accept any funds from the tenant.

Certainly there are reasons other than the failure of the tenant
to pay rent which may compel the landlord to evict a tenant,
such as the breach of other terms of the lease agreement or
causing damage to the leased premises. There are similar
statutory procedures for a commercial landlord evicting a
tenant for other such breaches of the lease agreement and the
lease agreement itself may provide additional relief for the
landlord.  

Please note this is a summary of the procedure for a
commercial landlord to evict a tenant, but the commercial
landlord may have other statutory rights such as the right to
demand double rent from the tenant, the right to demand the
payment of certain damages, or the right to levy liens against
the tenant’s personal property to satisfy the payment of any
outstanding rent or other charges that are payable to the
landlord pursuant to the terms of the lease.  Other remedies
described in the underlying lease may also be available to the
landlord for specific breaches of the lease agreement such as
holding-over or unlawful detainer.

Following a successful eviction proceeding brought by a
commercial landlord or upon the tenant surrendering
possession of the leased premises to the landlord, the
commercial landlord must be cognizant of the legal manner in
which they retake possession of the leased premises.  Retaking
possession of the leased premises in certain manners can
obligate the former tenant to continue to be responsible for
paying shortfalls in rent if future tenants of the leased space
lease the premises for a rental amount that is less than the
amount that was to be paid by the former tenant.  Other
manners of retaking possession of the leased premises may
release the former tenant from any future obligations.

                                                           Return to Florida Statutory Procedure
                                                           for Evicting Tenants
Law Office of
Craig W. Little, P.A.