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TENANT LAW: COMMON LANDLORD PITFALLS TO AVOID WHEN SEEKING TO RECOVER LATE FEES

Chapter 83, Florida Statutes, encompasses Florida’s landlord-tenant law. It outlines the various types of leases recognized under Florida law, the rights, duties and obligations of landlords and tenants alike, and the procedure that a landlord is to follow when filing a suit to evict a tenant.

While Chapter 83, provides clear substantive and procedural guidance, landlords often find themselves victims to some of the statute’s intricate wrinkles. One of the most common pitfalls that landlords encounter revolves around the collection of late fees provided for under their lease agreements.

A prerequisite to a residential eviction for non-payment of rent is the posting of a 3-Day Notice.1 Landlords often improperly include the late fees provided for under their leases within the amount of “Rent” due on the 3-Day Notice. While residential leases can be structured to incorporate late fees as additional rent, if late fees are improperly included within the amount of rent due on a 3-Day Notice, the notice risks being deemed “defective.”

Since a proper 3-Day Notice is a condition precedent to filing an eviction action, Florida courts have held that where a defective notice exists, the requisite elements of a cause of action for eviction have not been met, and therefore, a landlord’s complaint for eviction must be dismissed without leave to amend.

In order to avoid unnecessary costs and delays in evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent, it is best to consult with an experienced real estate attorney.

Feel free to give us a call to discuss your landlord-tenant matters (813) 528-4044.