Evictions In Florida By Corporate Landlords Without the Use of a Lawyer
A nonprofit that has developed a quality affordable apartment project should adopt a “zero tolerance” policy with regard to tenants late on the payment of rent. A three day notice should be sent immediately upon the default with a Court eviction action commenced immediately thereafter if the default is not cured within the stated time deadline.
There are no self help evictions in Florida. There is an expedited “summary” procedure for evictions (where response deadlines and the waiting time for hearings are shortened).
Ordinarily corporations can only appear in court through a lawyer (a non-attorney corporate officer representing the corporation in a court action would normally be guilty of the crime of unauthorized practice of law). But, the Florida Supreme Court in the 1990's issued a ruling that allows corporate landlords to file and prosecute evictions WITHOUT A LAWYER up until the point that the tenant files formal defenses at which time the corporate landlord would have to retain a lawyer in order to proceed. Note: most evictions for nonpayment of rent are uncontested.
Click here to download a compressed “zip” file containing the Court approved forms. It includes instructions that describe the use of each document. The nonprofit (or its property management company) can train a staff member to handle uncontested evictions thus saving money on attorney fees. If this process seems intimidating, however, it might be best to retain a lawyer and then let the staff member watch the first one in order to learn how it is done.
All landlords should recognize that the occasional eviction is an ordinary cost of doing business. Thus, the project's budget should have a line item labeled “legal expense”. A relationship should be established with an attorney experienced in evictions who can be called on for help with evictions where the tenant has filed formal defenses with the Court (or, optionally, who can handle all evictions)