When brick-and-mortar businesses struggle and can no longer make rent, eviction looms. Commercial landlords and tenants must understand Florida rental laws to limit revenue loss. The Frazer Firm can help guide you through the process of preventing or navigating issues related to leasing defaults.
Here is a brief overview of what you need to know about commercial eviction laws in the state of Florida:
Commercial Rental Agreements Should Be Comprehensive
Because Florida law places fewer limitations on commercial evictions than residential, commercial tenancy rights essentially depend on the lease agreement. For example, unlike provisions of the Florida Statutes governing residential leases, prevailing party attorney’s fees provisions in commercial lease disputes are not provided by law and can only be awarded if the commercial lease agreement says so. As you can see, it is extremely important to have a very detailed lease agreement so that the parties’ remedies are clear and comprehensive.
Landlords May Recover Damages & Take Possession
When a tenant defaults in the payment of rent, the landlord can take possession of the premises and hold the tenant responsible for unpaid rent. Then the landlord must make a reasonable effort to re-let the premises to mitigate its damages.
The defaulted tenant likely will need to pay past due rent and the rent due for the remainder of the lease term. Any amounts a new tenant pays during the defaulted tenant’s term, however, must be credited against the amount of damages the tenant is entitled to recover from the defaulted tenant. The commercial lease agreement may also provide alternative or cumulative remedies to the landlord that can be elected depending on the circumstances of the particular dispute.
Communication After a Default Can Alter the Lease
Landlords may look to avoid litigation by working with a defaulted tenant by waiving the default and modifying lease terms. This option may be attractive to a landlord where the tenant has an otherwise strong business with good revenue, but may have experienced short-term business pressures, or where there is a lack of solid tenant replacements. Any negotiated payment arrangements should be clearly documented in writing and signed by the parties to the original lease.
Self-Help Eviction Is Not Allowed
While it might be tempting for a landlord to remove a tenant without going through the proper legal channels, this “self-help” eviction is illegal. This can include but isn’t limited to changing locks, having the power shut off, or removing property of the tenants without a court order. During the lease term, the tenant is entitled to possession of the premises without interference from the landlord unless the tenant abandons the premises or a court issues a judgment returning possession of the premises to the landlord.
If a landlord evicts a tenant without the proper legal process, they can be held liable for attorney’s fees, court costs, and lost profits from that business.
Tenants Must Pay During Pending Eviction
When a commercial tenant is sued for unpaid rent or default of other provisions of the lease, the court may order the tenant to pay rent into the court’s registry while litigation is pending. Florida law does not allow tenants to stay in the space during litigation without rent payment. If the tenants dispute the amount due, the court will usually set the amount to paid into the registry of the court by order.
Contact the Frazer Firm to Discuss Your Commercial Landlord/Tenant Litigation Matters
Landlords can remove a tenant who has failed to fulfill the lease terms if they follow the proper procedures. The landlord can recover possession of the property in addition to any rent the lease agreement requires. But if a landlord mismanages an eviction, they may be liable to the tenant for damages. It is important to have experienced commercial real estate and landlord tenant litigation attorneys guiding your business decisions.
Protecting your business is our business. The Frazer Firm in Jupiter, Florida is experienced in complex and challenging commercial landlord tenant litigation. Contact us today to learn more about how our attorneys can help your unique case.
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