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Don’t take a chance with a ‘self-help’ eviction in Florida

What do you do when you have a tenant that just won’t pay? What if the tenant is simply one of the “those” tenants — causing trouble and creating problems from dawn to dusk with every other tenant you have? What if the tenant is simply refusing to obey the rules you have in place regarding pets, sanitary issues and more?

Well, naturally you want that tenant out of your property. However, the actual legal eviction process seems unnecessarily complicated, especially if your tenant seems inclined to dig in and fight the process.

At some point, a “self-help eviction” may cross your mind as a possible solution. Self-help evictions include things like:

  • Shutting off the utilities to the property, including the electric, gas, water, garbage service or air conditioning.
  • Changing the locks on the property when the tenant is not there.
  • Forcibly entering the tenant’s space and removing his or her property.
  • Harassing a tenant for payment — even if you are owed past-due rent.
  • Making threats against the tenant for not paying rent or not moving out.
  • Doing anything that could make the residence unlivable — such as removing the outside door.
  • Interfering in a commercial tenant’s business because he or she is behind on rent.

All of these are a violation of the law. While you may, ultimately, cause your problem tenant to vacate the property, you’re also exposing yourself to significant legal action and fines, among other possible penalties. You could even end up liable for reimbursing the tenant for the cost of his or her move and his or her attorney’s fees.

Problem tenants are an unfortunate reality when you’re a landlord. However, violating the law exposes you to a much greater hassle than going through the legal steps of an eviction. If you need to evict a tenant, take the time to find out what legal rights you have and the appropriate process before you act.