If a tenant does not leave when they are scheduled to leave, do you have to go through eviction process?

UPDATED: May 21, 2012

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If a tenant does not leave when they are scheduled to leave, do you have to go through eviction process?

I have a tenant that is currently on a month-to-month after his annual lease expired over 3 months ago. He requested to use his security deposit as his last month’s payment, but was declined. When the time came, he refused to pay the last month and told me just use the security deposit, and claimed he will be out at the end of the month as scheduled. If he does not leave as scheduled, what can I do? Do I have to start at the beginning of the eviction process? And, what if I already have another signed lease for the first of next month?

Asked on May 21, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) Yes, the only legal way to remove a tenant, including a tenant unlawfully holding over, is by bringing an eviction action in the courts; landlords may not resort to "self-help" evictions, such as changing the locks themselves, and if they do, they can find themselves liable to the tenant.

2) If the tenant's unlawful actions cost you money (e.g. you lose rent from a successor tenant), you could sue the tenant, including possibly in small claims court, for your losses.


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