There are several steps you may need to take when your tenant stops paying rent in Florida. Serving an eviction notice may seem like the last resort to some. Actually, serving an eviction notice early on will help you overcome the pitfalls of rent collection.
When your tenant stops paying rent in Florida
First you have to ask yourself, are you the type of person that can separate the emotional element from business, which in this case is your rental property? If so, congrats! That’s hard to do for a lot of people. Many folks find it difficult to call people when they’re owed money or to respond objectively when something breaks in a house in which they have an emotional attachment. If the latter sounds like you, you may have to consider an additional step, so keep reading! If you’re able to approach issues you encounter with your rental property as a savvy business person, skip down to serve an eviction notice.
Get someone involved
If you are not comfortable calling a tenant to collect money, or delivering a notice demanding payment, you may want to look into getting some help. Below are some professionals that can help:
- Process server: A process server can deliver notices that are required by law to be delivered in person. They will deliver the notice to your tenant for a very reasonable fee (around $50). You provide the documents via email and the process server will go to the property and hand it to the tenant or post it on the door in their absence. That is however, the extent of their service and another trip will cost you an additional fee.
- Property Manager: A good property management company is equipped to handle all aspects of an eviction. They are professionally licensed real estate agents that focus on the complex task of managing rental property. Without an emotional attachment, property management professionals have the ability to treat your rental property as a business, because it is!
Who not to ask for help:
Unless your relative or friend is experienced in landlord tenant law, it’s best to not involve them. Doing so may cause friction in your relationship if something doesn’t go right. Since there are very real legal consequences when it comes to real estate, there’s also the possibility of getting into legal trouble.
Do your part
Hopefully you did your due diligence when you marketed you property and placed your tenant. You should have:
- Ensured your property was clean, functional and priced correctly to attract quality tenants
- Marketed your property on various platforms with plenty of attractive and accurate pictures
- Screened prospective tenants for income, credit and background to include checks for evictions and criminal history
- Established clear expectations in writing for both tenant and landlord
- Kept the process consistent
Related: Should You Screen Tenants in Miami
Serve an eviction notice
When your tenant stops paying rent in Florida despite your best efforts, it could be frustrating. It’s important to remain professional. Stick to the agreement you made with the tenant in writing. If a late fee is supposed to be charged on the 6th, charge the late fee on the 6th. If the landlord is responsible to fix the air conditioner, have the air conditioner fixed in a reasonable amount of time. Deviating from what was agreed to, even if it’s in the tenant’s favor, undermines the power of the agreement.
Whether you’ve followed the guidelines of the lease to the letter or you’re lost and just know you need to act quickly, your next step is to serve the tenant an eviction notice. This should be done between the 12th and 15th of the month if the rent has not been paid, regardless of the reason the rent is late. There are no benefits to waiting! This applies even if you’ve made a payment arrangement with the tenant. Simply let them know that you still have to serve them the eviction notice but that they can throw it away as soon as the payment is made. Keep in mind that if you accept a payment for less than the amount owed, you need to serve another eviction notice for the balance.
Download Florida Bar’s eviction notice HERE.
Please make sure you read and understand the instructions on how to fill out an serve the notice prior to serving the tenant. If you don’t live near your rental property, read the above “get someone involved” section of this article for professionals who can help you.
By serving your tenant an eviction notice when your tenant stops paying rent in Florida, you’re letting your tenant know that it’s a serious matter. Chances are, the tenant will make the payment. If they don’t, you will be ahead of the curve by already having completed the first step to the eviction process. Follow through on filing the eviction if necessary.
Related: Hassle-Free Miami Eviction
Pedro Cedeño, Lic. Real Estate Agent, Real Property Management Dade – Miami, FL | My team and I are here to make it easy and profitable to own rental property in Miami by focusing on the people and not just the buildings. We love to see the positive effect good rental practices have on people. Sharing the knowledge we’ve gained over the years with current and aspiring landlords is part of our mission.