Landlords who are self-managing their properties will often call with stories about tenants who haven’t paid rent in a couple of months and they don’t know what to do. I’m not a lawyer, and while I am always happy to answer questions about the eviction process, if you aren’t sure what to do when it becomes necessary to evict a tenant, I always recommend you consult a lawyer. In our blog today, I will cover some basics of eviction in St. Petersburg and the timelines that are involved.
Legal Eviction HelpWhile I always recommend legal help, you don’t need a lawyer. As a landlord in Florida, you can file an eviction on your own. One thing to keep in mind is that the process can get more complicated if you own the property as an LLC or a separate business entity. In these cases, you might not be able to represent yourself because you don’t own the property personally; it’s in a corporation state. Make sure you know the laws and if you don’t understand them clearly, get a lawyer.
Eviction Timeline: Three Day NoticeThe first thing you must do is to post a Three Day Notice. This is the first basic step, and you must know how to post a proper notice. You need to know what money you can include in the demand portion of the letter, the deadline by which the tenant has to pay, and what happens if they don’t. If you don’t have a proper Three Day Notice, contact a property manager like me or an attorney. This notice is the critical first step, and it must be handed to the tenant or posted on the door if no one is home.
Filing an EvictionAfter three days have passed, your next step is to file an eviction. These are all business days. We never count weekends or holidays during an eviction. So be careful with the dates because things can stretch out. Make sure you’re tracking the time and filing when you need to. Once three days have lapsed, start the filing process. This includes several steps. File the eviction in court, provide a copy of that eviction to the tenant through a process server, and then give the tenant an opportunity to respond. The wait time will depend on whether the tenant chooses to respond. If you are unsure of the process or the timing, talk to a legal expert.
Complete the Eviction with the SheriffThe entire eviction process will generally take about a month. There is no way to speed it up, and it can go longer if things aren’t filed correctly. If the tenant responds and the judge wants to have a hearing, you’ll also have to wait. Often, a tenant doesn’t respond when you’re evicting for nonpayment of rent. When you have been awarded the eviction, the Sheriff shows up at your property and completes the eviction. Many times, the tenants leave before the Sheriff shows up. Owners may want to go inside once the tenants have left and start getting the property ready for a new tenant. That’s a big mistake. You need to finalize the eviction and legally regain control of the home.
Nonpayment of rent is the most common reason to evict, but you might also need to evict if a tenant isn’t complying with the lease. The more complicated your eviction becomes, the more important it is to get an attorney involved. If you have any questions about eviction or managing properties in St. Petersburg in general, please contact us at Dean & DeWitt Property Management.