My Tenant is Not Paying, What Can I Do?
A tenant’s failure to pay the rent can be a huge financial burden on a landlord. Beyond the costs, it can also be time consuming and extremely stressful. You likely want to rectify the issue immediately. After all, the terms of your lease were agreed upon ahead of time and now your tenant is not holding up his or her end of the bargain. Still, you need to go through the legal process the correct way. Under Florida law, both commercial and residential tenants have many powerful rights. If you do not follow proper procedure, you may end up damaging your own financial interests.
The Four Step Process for Handling a Delinquent Tenant
- Send a Written Late Notice
As soon as your tenant falls behind on their rent, you should spring into action. Before any other type of action can be taken against a tenant, a written late notice must be given. It is best to give your tenant this notice as soon as the standard five-day grace period ends. A written late notice should be simple and it should include straightforward information. If your lease allows for late fees, and you plan to collect them, that information should be included in the late notice.
- Make a Phone Call
After sending out the written late notice, hopefully you will receive full payment. Of course, that does not always occur. Often, written late notices are completely ignored and landlords will not even receive a response from their tenant, let alone any payment. After waiting two to four days, you should make a phone call to the tenant. The purpose of this phone call is to give additional notice. It is a good idea to document the fact that you made this effort.
- Send an Eviction Notice
If the issue has still not been resolved, you will need to send the tenant an official eviction notice. It is best to do this with attorney’s warning letter. In Florida, a proper eviction notice must be given before you can start the actual eviction process.
- Start the Eviction Process
In some cases, you may be forced to go through with eviction. There are many important legal requirements included in the process and you must handle this issue very carefully. You can protect yourself by ensuring that you give the tenant notice at every step of the process. Further, you should always carefully document your attempts to do so. Finally, you should also be prepared for any potential tenant defenses to eviction. It is recommend that you have an experienced attorney by your side throughout the entirety of the eviction process.
Do You Need Legal Assistance?
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our West Palm Beach landlord-tenant attorneys have extensive experience helping Florida landlords protect their rights. If your commercial or residential tenant is late on the rent, we can help. Please do not hesitate to contact our office today at 561-291-8298 to schedule your free case evaluation. We represent landlords throughout Southeast Florida, including in Dade County, Palm Beach County and Broward County.