Once I give a 3 day notice for non-payment of rent, can I legally change the locks and can I keep any belongings left at the property?

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Once I give a 3 day notice for non-payment of rent, can I legally change the locks and can I keep any belongings left at the property?

The tenants owe me $1200 and have done minor damage to the house.

Asked on September 30, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

1) No, you may NOT change the locks; doing so is illegal eviction. The only legal way to evict is through the courts--by filing and winning an eviction action.

2) You may ONLY keep the tenant's belongings if the tenant specifically used those belongings as collateral for the rent or other obligations (gave you a security interest).

3)  In addition to evicting, if the tenant owes you rent and damaged your property, you can withhold part or all of the security deposit, and/or sue the tenant (such as in small claims court, where you can act as your own attorney) for the money owed.


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