This article outlines two common myths many landlords believe about tenant evictions in the state of Florida. Read on to learn more.
This is a common misconception among Florida tenants today, especially with the ongoing foreclosure crisis. The first thing a tenant must understand is the way the foreclosure process works. The filing of a foreclosure suit against the landlord does not take the property away from the landlord. The landlord is still the owner of the property and is still responsible for paying taxes, complying with municipal codes, and maintaining the premises. The landlord has a statutory right of redemption, which means that at any time, he or she can pay off the mortgage, thus terminating the lender’s right to foreclose. Sometimes a landlord is in default because he or she is seeking a modification. Unfortunately, most lenders will not even consider modifying a loan unless the homeowner defaults and stops paying.
J. Conrad Grant, an attorney at Kelley & Grant, P.A., a firm that specializes in foreclosure defense and Florida evictions, says he gets calls from landlords and tenants on this question very often. Grant says, “I tell the tenants that they signed a legally binding contract with the landlord to pay rent. As long as the landlord is still the owner of that property the tenant is obligated to pay rent according to the terms of the rental agreement. If the tenant does not pay the landlord can evict them for non-payment of rent. The short answer is that a tenant must still pay rent even if the landlord is in foreclosure.”
Myth #2 — Suing the Tenant for Backrent and Damages Will Slow Down the Eviction Process.
In a Florida eviction the landlord can choose to sue for possession only, even if the tenants owe several months of rent. This is commonly referred to as Count I of the eviction process. In addition to suing for possession, a landlord can add a Count II to the eviction complaint, asking for Backrent and Damages. While some landlords have various reasons for not filing a Count II, one common question from landlords is whether it will take them longer to get possession of their property. The answer is no. Suing for Backrent and Damages does not cause the eviction suit to last longer.
In Florida, after the eviction complaint is filed, the tenant has 5 business days to respond to Count I, and 20 calendar days to respond to Count II. In many cases, the landlord will regain possession of the premises well before the court grants a money judgment. Whatever the reasons for not filing a Count II, it should not be because it will take longer. If the landlord believes the tenant has the means to pay, the landlord should seriously consider filing Count II for Backrent and damages.