What to do about tenant who is late with rent and a tenant who is incarcerated?

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What to do about tenant who is late with rent and a tenant who is incarcerated?

We have an apartment building with 14 apartments. One tenant is $1100 behind on rent, do we have to go to the court to evict with this license? Also, another tenant just got arrested, what can I do about their apartment? What do I do with their stuff?

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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

1) You can evict a tenant for non- or late payment, but must do this through the courts, with an eviction action; landlords may never resort to "self-help" evictions and just lock tenants out. If they do, they will be liable  to the tenant for unlawful eviction.

2) If the rent is paid by or on behalf of the incarcerated tenant and he/she does not violate any material (important) lease terms, you'd have to keep renting to him or her. If the rent is not paid, you may evict him or her for nonpaymet. You'd have to make sure you serve the summons and complaint on the tenant properly, which can be tricky if he/she is in jail.

3) Until a tenant is evicted by court action, you can do nothing about his or her belongings. After eviction, you can dispose of abandoned tenant property after the appropriate time (generally at least 30 days) and after having provided the proper notice to  the tenant. A landlord-tenant attorney can help you with this, or you should be able to find the correct information from your local landlord-tenant court.


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