Evicting a tenant for nonpayment of rent
When evicting a tenant for nonpayment of rent, step one is always giving the tenant a 3-day notice to pay rent or vacate.
Sarah: Hi. I have three questions. This regards landlord-tenant. Number one, how do I get a tenant out of a mother-in-law apartment when they refuse to pay the rent and they just smile at me when I say, "You must leave."? That’s question number one. Question number two, what are my parameters as a landlord if they leave items behind?
Attorney Tom Olsen: I got it. In number -
Sarah: They moved in as a couple and the girl left quite a few items behind in my -
Attorney Tom Olsen: I get it, Sarah. Question number three is?
Sarah: His fiancée took my garage door opener. Can I charge her with theft?
Attorney Tom Olsen: Yes. Now, Sarah, would you want them out because of non-payment of rent or you just want them out.
Sarah: I want them out for non-payment of rent.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay. Sarah, when you are landlord and your tenant does not pay you rent, step number one always is a three-day notice to pay rent or vacate. That three-day notice must be properly filled out. It can be then handed to your tenant or taped to their front door. After the three days are over, on day number four, you can begin legal eviction proceedings. Now, Sarah, with that said, there is a form of this three-day notice in the Florida statutes. It looks deceptively easy but there are all kinds of ways that you can make a mistake in filling out a three-day notice to pay rent.
Sarah, my recommendation is that you meet with my landlord-tenant attorney, Rob Solomon, in our office. He will help you prepare that three days notice. Now, once you evict your tenant for non-payment of rent or your tenant leaves, no matter what the circumstances are, there is another statute that deals with abandoned property. That statute says, as I recall, Sarah, is that if that abandoned property is worth less than $250, I do believe you can do whatever you want to. You can keep it, throw it away, put it on a cab. If it's worth more than that, Sarah, then you are obligated to give your tenant notice and an opportunity to come get it and then there's steps that you go to after that.
Now, Sarah, you're talking about your tenant leaving with your garage remote control. Can you charge them with theft? Theft is a crime. Sarah, you will never ever convince the State Attorney's Office to bring a charge of a criminal charge against your tenant. This is strictly a civil matter. Therefore, Sarah, your remedy would be to sue your tenant for whatever damages or deduct it from your security deposit with your tenants.