New landlord is need of wisdom - Posted by Paula

Posted by Don M on December 09, 2004 at 07:31:13:

Residential real estate law is written to nullify provisions you would
write into an ironclad lease. You can hear a lot of “street landlord
justice” anecdotes, but as others have said, you will sleep better and be
more protected if you follow the law. Plus, as much as l like to avoid
paying attorneys, you risk being penny wise and pound foolish to use
someone else’s lease straight up. If you get one, use it for educational
purposes but develop your own. Because most of all, you need to see
a lawyer and have them develop your lease in accordance with FL laws.


New landlord is need of wisdom - Posted by Paula

Posted by Paula on December 08, 2004 at 14:22:38:

Could someone tell me what I should do? I’m a landlord (in Florida) who signed a 1 year lease with a older couple. They have been in the house for 5 months. Last months rent check bounced (they had a perfect record until then) and they said it was an accident and could I wait until the 6th for them to make that up plus this months rent. I just happened to be out that way and dropped in on them-and caught them moving most of their stuff out. They said they were moving out and would need until the 15th to do this. I told them that I still needed last months rent as well as this months. They told me to come and get it on the 6th. I went by the house twice on the 6th and 7th-but didn’t find them home. Needless to say I’ve called them and they don’t answer. What can I do? Can I change the locks now, even though they have some of their stuff there? Can I file some kind of judgement against them? Please help.
Thanks in advance

Re: New landlord is need of wisdom - Posted by Steve FL

Posted by Steve FL on December 12, 2004 at 17:29:29:

Do the rest of us Florida landlords a favor, please report this to the credit agencies.

No lawyer or eviction required - Posted by Marc Donovan

Posted by Marc Donovan on December 12, 2004 at 06:36:06:

83.59 Right of action for possession.–

(3) The landlord shall not recover possession of a dwelling unit except:
(c) When the tenant has abandoned the dwelling unit. In the absence of actual knowledge of abandonment, it shall be presumed that the tenant has abandoned the dwelling unit if he or she is absent from the premises for a period of time equal to one-half the time for periodic rental payments. However, this presumption shall not apply if the rent is current or the tenant has notified the landlord, in writing, of an intended absence.

So you do not need to evict after they are gone for two weeks. Just make sure you put ALL contents at the edge of the road. DO NOT try to store it or keep any of it. Take pictures to prove where you put the stuff.

Re: New landlord is need of wisdom - Posted by Rob FL

Posted by Rob FL on December 09, 2004 at 09:49:28:

If they are moved out, be thankful. Florida has a specific statute about abandonment. You may want to look it up. If they are absent from the property for a certain period of time, you can consider it abandonned and then move in and retake possession without having to do a full blown eviction.

You could sue for eviction and get a judgment against them, assuming you think you can actually collect against them. My local credit bureau allows me to put unpaid rent on their credit reports as a collection. Similar to the way hospitals and utility providers do. You don’t need to get a judgment against them to put a collection on their credit report.

Best wishes.

Re: New landlord is need of wisdom - Posted by Frank Chin

Posted by Frank Chin on December 09, 2004 at 04:42:10:


You got some good answers already.

I don’t know if you collected the first, last and a month’s security. If you did, you would have the bounced check, this months rent covered already. If not, make sure you do it next time.

My experience had been when folks tell me three months rent all at once is too much, or if we can take part of the deposit, and the rest over the next several months, they are also saying they’re in financial difficulty. When I rent to these people they’re always late with the rent afterwards.

A coworker who owned a rental had a tenant moved out, but left some belongings behind. Intead of seeing an attorney, she changed the locks, and moved the rest of the stuff to her garage. The tenant came back several months later and claimed several pairs of $300 shoes were missing.

So get hold of a landlord/tenant attorney, and get the ball rolling. Get a recommendation from your local REI club, or call the local Bar association for a recommendation.

Frank Chin

Re: New landlord is need of wisdom - Posted by RichV(FL)

Posted by RichV(FL) on December 08, 2004 at 19:16:59:


Do not change the locks. Slap your notice on the door and start to evict. ASAP! With a lawyer! You are a newbie so you will need one. Its going to cost you some money but thats part of this business.

Paula, when you got into this business didnt you look up the Florida landlord/tenant act? If you want to stay in this business you better learn it and have a good lawyer.

ALWAYS get a first,last and security before anyone moves into your place.

Sorry to be harsh with you but if you want to be a successful landlord get used to evictions. I will be going through one myself as of the 15th.

Get them out of your place as soon as possible and move on. Dont give them an inch. As Gary said…do everything by the books and legally!



Re: New landlord is need of wisdom - Posted by Maria-Fl

Posted by Maria-Fl on December 08, 2004 at 18:47:44:

In my lease there is a standard clause stating that after the tenant is gone 15 days the unit is abandoned, the landlord may enter and change the locks and dispose of any property left. The only time I had to do it I called the police to enter with me as a witness. They stood by while I emptied what was left in the yard and after they left the people on the street took everything. Check yours, it is usually included.
Turn the bad check over to a collection agency and put in your next lease that tenant will pay all late fees, collection fees and legal fees needed to collect the money they owe you. Make sure you get their license and social to give to the collection agency.

Re: New landlord is need of wisdom - Posted by sptk

Posted by sptk on December 08, 2004 at 16:52:23:

I’m in California, so you still need Florida specific advice. This is one of those questions you should have a plan for in advance. What do I do when tenants don’t pay? You go to an eviction attorney and evict them. It looks like they are abandoning the property. See if you lease specifically mentions this. Again, they didn’t pay, get the eviction going now. You can take them to small claims court for any unpaid rent and damages. Collecting is iffy. Focus on getting your property back and re-rented. It’s even worse when they won’t leave. It’s a hard lesson to learn that people will lie to your face, cheat you, and say that you are unethical and their morals are above reproach.
Good Luck

Re: New landlord is need of wisdom - Posted by Chyna

Posted by Chyna on December 09, 2004 at 05:58:24:

Is it customary to get first, last and security in NYC where rents are high? I own in Brooklyn where two bedroom apartments are going for about $1,600 and tenants are mostly young with roommates. I’ve always gotten first and security…should I be getting last also? Would be great if I could.

Here’s the statute - Posted by Barry (FL)

Posted by Barry (FL) on December 08, 2004 at 17:23:25:

Re: New landlord is need of wisdom - Posted by Frank Chin

Posted by Frank Chin on December 09, 2004 at 14:39:36:


IN MA, I do first, last and a months deposit. MA law restricts security to one month. First, last, and one month security is very usual outside of NYC.

Here in NYC, we do 1-1/2 month security, in place of collecting last month. I have a vacant apt now that an applicant volunteered 2-1/2 months if we rent to them.

We don’t allow pets, but when an exception is made in a few limited cases, we also ask for and received an additonal month, making it 2-1/2 months also.

Frank Chin

Re: Here’s the statute - Posted by GaryB

Posted by GaryB on December 08, 2004 at 18:09:37:

Take a look at this closely:

The 2004 Florida Statutes

Title VI

83.67 Prohibited practices.–

(1) A landlord of any dwelling unit governed by this part shall not cause, directly or indirectly, the termination or interruption of any utility service furnished the tenant, including, but not limited to, water, heat, light, electricity, gas, elevator, garbage collection, or refrigeration, whether or not the utility service is under the control of, or payment is made by, the landlord.

(2) A landlord of any dwelling unit governed by this part shall not prevent the tenant from gaining reasonable access to the dwelling unit by any means, including, but not limited to, changing the locks or using any bootlock or similar device.

Do not change the locks. Avoid going into the apartment unless there is an emrgency. Begin an eviction proceeding IMMEDIATELY. Get an order of eviction, and let the marshall/sheriff do the actual eviction (that is throwing stuff out).

It appears that they have abandoned the apartment, right? Wrong! Just wait until you go into the apartment and change the locks, then they begin to claim they had not abandoned the apartment, that they were just over at their grand son’s, and by the way that since you entered their apartment without notice to them, they are missing a $450K diamond necklace he bought for her in 1972 and so on and so forth. If care is not taken, now they are suing you for the missing $450K diamond which is worth more than your entire house.

So do everything LEGALLY. Start eviction immediately. Use a lawyer, and let the marshal/sherif do the actual eviction. Get a Court Order before you do anything.

Re: Here’s the statute - Posted by paula

Posted by paula on December 09, 2004 at 05:50:26:

Thank you everyone for taking the time out and answering this post. I know what I must do now and in the future! I was wondering if anyone could e-mail me a copy of a lease that is iron tight?