Let’s say you have a Florida tenant you want out and you plan to take action. Chances are your tenant knows long in advance that trouble is coming.
If the issue is non-payment of rent, you’ve likely made phone calls and sent letters. If you’re really serious, you may have posted a three day notice. If you’re brave enough, you may have filed an eviction case against a tenant, paid a filing fee to the clerk, paid the sheriff’s office to serve the complaint, etc. If your efforts have caused the tenant to vacate, then you are ready to retake possession…
Wait! Florida Statutes specifically identify when a landlord may retake possession. Per Florida Statute §83.05 a landlord may only retake possession of the premises:
(a) In an action for possession under s. 83.20, or other civil action in which the issue of right of possession is determined;
(b) When the tenant has surrendered possession of the rented premises to the landlord; or
(c) When the tenant has abandoned the rented premises.
If I haven’t filed an action and the tenant leaves but didn’t ‘surrender possession’, what do I do?”
If the landlord lacks actual knowledge of abandonment, it can be presumed the tenant has abandoned the premises when the following three factors are present:
(a) The landlord reasonably believes that the tenant has been absent from the rented premises for a period of 30 consecutive days;
(b) The rent is not current; and
(c) A notice pursuant to s. 83.20(2) has been served and 10 days have elapsed since service of such notice.
A conscientious landlord should obtain a surrender of possession of the premises by actual written notice to avoid a statutory 30-day waiting period.
Of course, speaking with an experienced landlord tenant attorney prior to navigating an eviction can save time and money in the long run.