My Commercial Tenant Defaulted on the Lease, What Happens Now?
Few things cause bigger headaches for commercial landlords than a tenant defaulting on the terms of their lease. Beyond the potential financial damage, it can be difficult for landlords to navigate the complex legal system. All commercial landlords need to know how to protect their rights in the event of a tenant default. If you are a Florida landlord, and your commercial tenant has failed to make timely rent payments, please contact an experienced West Palm Beach Landlord rights attorney for immediate legal assistance.
How to Get Your Property Back in Your Possession
Once your tenant stops paying the rent, you may feel like you should be able to walk in the door and take back your property. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Florida landlords need to recover possession of their property in manner that is consistent with Florida law. You will generally have three options:
- Voluntary surrender: This occurs when a commercial tenant voluntarily agrees to vacate the premises of your property. For commercial leases that have lasted at least one year, this will usually require a valid written surrender agreement, signed by both parties.
- Abandonment: A commercial landlord can also recover legal possession of their property if they can establish that their tenant has abandoned the premises. In Florida, this typically requires three things: past due rent, proper notice given to the tenant, and a tenant that has not been on the premises of the property for at least thirty days.
- Eviction: Finally, if a commercial tenant has defaulted on their lease obligations, but still remains on the property, the landlord will need to bring action to evict the tenant. The most frequent reason for eviction in Florida is non-payment of the rent. As a commercial landlord, you must follow all eviction requirements under Florida law, including giving adequate notice to the tenant.
Recovering Damages for a Commercial Tenant Default
You have the right to hold a tenant liable for any damages associated with their default on the commercial lease. You may be entitled to compensation for any past due rent, court costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Ultimately, your compensation will always depend on the specific terms of your commercial lease. It is vital that you have a well-drafted lease, ideally one that is customized to your specific property, that ensures adequate protection of your landlord rights. For example, it is generally advisable that landlords include an acceleration of rent provision within a commercial lease. This type of provision gives commercial landlords the right to demand immediate payment for the entire remaining unpaid rent balance due under the terms of the lease. Acceleration of rent provisions can take a number of specific forms, and an experienced attorney can help you determine how this provision can best benefit you.
Need Legal Advice?
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our attorneys have extensive experience protecting the rights of Florida landlords. If you are a Florida commercial landlord in need of legal assistance, please contact our West Palm Beach office today. You can schedule a free review of your case. Our firm proudly serves clients throughout South Florida, including in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale.