How to Properly Evict a Florida Tenant

February 19, 2020
RentCaddy

In Florida, it’s illegal for landlords to lock out tenants, displace their possessions, turn off their utilities, or engage in other hands-on eviction measures. Florida law has been criticized for heavily favoring the tenant. Regardless, the law that’s on the books today is the law. Landlords who neglect to pay heed, risk litigation.

Eviction: What’s Illegal in Florida

Chapter 83 in the Florida Statutes defines the legal barriers for conflicts involving rental properties. Section 83.67 prohibits “self-help” approaches. The following methodologies are specifically listed as unlawful under 83.76 – even when the tenant is in violation of their lease.

  • Utility termination. Cutting off or interrupting a tenant’s utility services such as electricity, water, garbage collection, gas, etc. is illegal. Such behavior can lead to criminal charges against the landlord, especially if it causes harm to the tenant.
  • No harassment. While it’s completely legal for a landlord to contact their tenants regarding a failure to pay rent, threats, insults, and unreasonable communication are considered in conflict with 83.76.
  • No property removal or seizure. Property owners or management are not allowed to move or hold their tenants’ property as collateral – even after they’ve moved out.
  • You can’t change the locks. While it might seem fair, swapping out the locks when a tenant doesn’t pay rent is illegal.
  • Prohibiting access. Whether it be by blocking the door, bootlocking, or telling security not to let a tenant in, landlords taking such measures can be sued by their tennant.

Making the unit unlivable: Removing doors, windows, toilets – any similar effort to persuade the tenant to move out is in violation of Florida law.