How to Properly Evict a Commercial Real Estate Tenant in Florida

If you own a commercial building, renting it out to tenants is a great way to make money. Whether this is the main focus of your company, or you are just renting out a portion of the building you own, you can expect that you’ll eventually have to evict a tenant for one reason or another. While evicting commercial tenants is less common than residential, it is definitely worth it to learn how to go through the process so there aren’t any excessive delays or costs.

Issue Proper Warning

The first step in the eviction process is to notify the tenant that an eviction is imminent. For evictions related to non-payment, you must give at least three days’ notice. For evictions related to other issues, a minimum of 15 days is usually going to be required. These advanced warning times are significantly shorter than you would see with a residential eviction, so make sure you’re ready to move on to the next step right away. From the beginning, you should consult a competent Florida commercial real estate lawyer before you do anything for good measure.

File an Unlawful Detainer Complaint

After the length of time specified in the initial warning has expired, you or your lawyer will want to file an unlawful detainer complaint with the courts. Once filed, if the court recognizes the claim, the tenant will need to respond within five days, sometimes with a counterclaim if they choose.

Going to Court

Once the claims and counterclaims have been filed properly, the courts will set a hearing date. This typically occurs fairly quickly after the time periods have expired, though it will depend on how busy the specific court is at that time. The vast majority of these cases are heard by a judge, not a jury, and the cases often move along quickly. When in court, each party will explain their side of the story, and the judge will issue a verdict. Cases that reach this point are typically won by the landlord, especially if the complaint is related to non-payment.

Evicting the Tenant

If the judge agrees with your claim, the tenant will be given five days to vacate the commercial space. A sheriff will post a notice to vacate the premises to ensure everyone is aware of the situation. Should the tenant fail to leave within those five days, you can contact the sheriff to come back and put a physical lock on the doors to keep the tenant out. You can then begin packing up any possessions that were left behind so you can prepare to rent the space out to a new tenant. Note that you need to store those possessions, and send the tenant a “notice of belief of abandonment” before the items can be discarded. This notice gives the tenant 18 days to pick up their things before you can have them discarded or sold at auction.

Get the Help You Need

While evicting a commercial tenant isn’t the most complex legal process, it does need to be handled correctly to avoid lengthy delays. The best way to ensure everything progresses smoothly so you can focus on your business is to work with an experienced landlord/tenant attorney. Contact Reyes Law Group to go over your options, and begin the eviction process right away.

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Reyes Law Group

Reyes Law Group represents clients in a multi-disciplinary legal practice involving real estate transactions and litigation with a “footprint” that covers the State of Florida. Over the firm’s first 10 years, Reyes Law Group has closed over $100M in commercial closings, representing buyers and sellers in contract negotiations, due diligence, and the related title review and policy issuance related to closings. In litigation, the firm has commercial litigation experience focused on prosecuting or defending claims such as breach of contracts, partition actions, trade secret violations, and breach of non-competes. However, our firm’s MAIN FOCUS is assisting asset and loan portfolio managers, investors and private lenders with a “ 4-PILLAR APPROACH” to the legal challenges they face with non-performing assets: 1) LOAN WORKOUTS; 2) COMMERCIAL FORECLOSURES (across the State of Florida); 3) COMMERCIAL EVICTIONS; and 4) REO COMMERCIAL CLOSINGS.30+ years’ legal experience means - WE CAN HELP!

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