If my tenant is refusing to pay rent and utilities which are all under my name, can I shut it off?

There is no written lease. I have proof that then tenant has paid for rent and all utilities for over a year. The verbal agreement was that tenant would pay for the utilities and rent. What will happen if I refuse to pay and the utilities companies shut them off due to non-payment?

Asked on July 6, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you shut off the utilities, you will be guilty of an illegal "self-help" eviction and will be liable to the tenant for any costs or damages he/she suffers. Landlords cannot simply shot off tenant utilities, even if the tenant is not paying for them. The correct way to handle this is:

1) If the tenant has not paid rent, bring an eviction action in court to evict him/her for nonpayment; and/or since it's an oral lease, provide the tenant 30 days notice terminating his/her tenancy then bring an eviction action. Only the courts and court officers may evict residential tenants.

2) You can sue the tenant, including potentially in small claims court, where you can act as your own attorney, for any amounts the tenant owes you.


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