JEROME C. WILLIAMS, JR., ESQ.
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St. Petersburg, FL Eviction & Landlord & Tenant Attorney

As your St. Petersburg Residential Landlord & Tenant Law attorney, I will apprise you of your rights.  Often times, as a tenant, you may find that dealing with your landlord can be a challenging experience.  On the other hand, as a landlord, you may discover that your tenant(s) are rather difficult to deal with, i.e. paying rent late (or not at all), damaging property, violating lease provisions, etc.  Our St. Petersburg office can handle any landlord-tenant matter, including but not limited to: Tenant disputes, Lease drafting and Lease violations.  There are a multitude of other areas in landlord-tenant law that we can assist you in.  

Landlord/Tenant Law

If you are a tenant and you do not pay your rent on time, you can be evicted by your landlord. However, it should be noted that you cannot be evicted without a court order. In other words, a "Writ of Possession" must be posted on your door by a sheriff.  This document will state that you have 24 hours to vacate the premises and if you don't by that time, the sheriff will place the landlord in possession of the premises by removing you.  Per Florida law, if your rent is not paid on time, the landlord must give you a 3 day notice for non-payment of rent if the landlord wants to have you evicted.  Most tenants are not aware of this, but the 3 days, begins the following day that you are served and the "third" day cannot fall on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday.  If it does, then the third day needs to fall on the next business day.  

Non-Payment of Rent Issues

Florida Eviction Process

​Let's say, hypothetically speaking as a tenant you are unable to pay rent.  You have a landlord that is sitting by the clock and calendar waiting for the 3 days to elapse.  On the "4th" day, you have just discovered that you have been served by a Sheriff or private process server with a summons and complaint.  DO NOT PANIC!! You will have 5 days (not including the date you were served, weekends or holidays) to respond to the complaint.  Whatever you do, you MUST respond!  If you fail to answer in writing within 5 days, a Default Judgment can be entered against you (and believe me you don't want this).  If this occurs, unless you can set aside the default, you will have a Writ of Possession entered against you posted by the Sheriff and the 24 hour clock will begin.  Avoid this by answering the complaint on your own, or hiring our St. Petersburg, FL Residential Landlord-Tenant attorney.  

Landlord's Duty to Rerent

An unfortunate situation for any tenant, unless you find yourself in a situation where you "voluntarily leave" the premises.  Nevertheless it must and should be discussed.  Let's look at the following hypothetical.  Say Tenant A is renting a unit, and his/her lease agreement states that Person A will reside in this dwelling for twelve months.  Four months into the lease, an emergency situation presents itself, whereby Tenant A needs to head back to see their ailing parent. There is no way that Tenant A can come back, as they understand that they need to be with their loved one. Tenant A notifies Landlord that they are "voluntarily" giving up their premises.  Landlord states to "Tenant A," no worries, I will only charge you one month's rent, and I will take it out of the security deposit.  Tenant A, who has been a great tenant, agrees and figures there are no worries for his St. Petersburg apartment.  Four months later, he is being sued by the same landlord for unpaid rent! Tenant A can't believe this and wanted to know what happened, as they had an agreement. This is where Florida Landlord/Tenant law can get tricky. In the state of Florida, per Fla. Stat. Ann. Section 83.595, a landlord can essentially sit on the property as long as he/she would like and is under no duty to re-rent the property. So if you are a tenant, remember that the landlord is not under a duty to "mitigate" damages, as they must in other states. Don't let something like this trip you up, as in many lease agreements, the language may not be fair to the tenant. Our St. Petersburg, FL office also handles lease reviews and will make any suggestions or changes we deem necessary.    
As your Landlord/Tenant lawyer, I will fight for you.  Whether you are a tenant that feels that your rights have been violated, or you are a landlord that is looking to take legal action for a tenant not complying with your lease provisions.  Feel free to give us a ring for a free, no-obligation consultation.  
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