Life As A Landlord – Eviction

This is part of an ongoing series about how I became the owner of a rental property in Florida while living in Utah, and all the adventures I have had along the way. If you’re just joining me now, you can check out the first installments here:

Yesterday my story of buying a rental property in Florida got to the part where rent stopped coming in and the E word came up – eviction. Today I’ll go through what the eviction process was like.

I don’t know why, but I never expected to have to evict a tenant. I thought that was just something that happens in the movies but when rent stopped coming in from my tenants, the management company told me we would have to evict them.

Eviction is a four letter word

The thought of not having a tenant in my rental was really scary. How would I pay the bills? How long would it take to get a new tenant? I didn’t even think about what condition the property might be left in.

So I tried to fight for my tenant. They were only a month behind or so and were paying a little here and there, no big deal right? Some money is better than no money and what if the property sat vacant for months after my current tenant is evicted.

The management company brought up eviction after every time they tried to visit the house and get the rent so finally I called and talked to them about it.

I had never been through an eviction and had no clue what the process is like, and that’s exactly what I told them. The guy on the other line was a smooth talker. He assured me everything would be fine and told me some of the details of the eviction process:

Eviction in Florida takes about 8 weeks after the 3 day notice is sent to the house and filed with the courts. It’s a pro-tenant state meaning no tenant can be evicted until everything goes through the courts first.

The process would go something like this. The management company would serve a 3 day notice of eviction to the tenant, then all documentation would have to be shown to the judge. Once the judge signed off on the eviction, the sheriff would be notified and within a few days of that, the sheriff would actually go to the house and remove the tenants.

So we got the process started. The management company served the eviction notice but hmm, surprise! The tenant showed up at the management company just a day later with a check for the rent.

What does that mean. Are my tenants just holding out on me?

I’ll never know but this happened for a few more months. Each month the tenant would avoid the management companies calls and visits and not send the rent check. Once the 3 day eviction notice was placed on their door, they would drop the check off and we would be square (aside from their late payments owed).

The management company told me their plan was to put up the eviction notice, and once the months rent was paid, we would evict them anyway based on past due rent. That way we would get a months rent and also get to keep the security deposit which would help defray some of the costs of getting the place cleaned out and a new tenant signed.

But each month after the eviction notice was posted and rent was delivered, I’d ask the management company if the eviction process was moving forward and they’d tell me that people just aren’t moving in right now so we should wait and see how next month looked. I was somewhat confused by this but rent was coming in kind of regularly again so I was ok with waiting. Then rent just stopped again.

The three day notice of eviction was posted and no rent showed up. A week passed and still nothing. So we pressed forward with the eviction.

It went just as expected but waiting nearly 8 weeks for the tenant to be removed felt like time was standing still. Finally I got the word that the sheriff was on his way to physically remove the tenant and we could get things cleaned up and back on the market.

When the sheriff got there though, the tenants were already gone. They did however leave something for us…a disaster to clean up before the house could be put back up for rent.

Image by rickonine

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35 People have left comments on this post

» JennaNo Gravatar said: { Apr 1, 2011 - 03:04:52 }

Wow! What a rough process! I don’t understand why tenants destroy stuff before they leave. Just doesn’t make sense to me. Hope you get amazing tenants soon.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

I know, it boggles the mind huh? I mean, isn’t enough to live rent free in a place for months? That’s why security deposits are important I guess 🙂

JennaNo Gravatar Reply:

Wait, does that mean you aren’t going to collect the past due rent?

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Sadly yes. The tenants are long gone, we have their security deposit as well as their damage and debris. Unless the 5 mattresses they left behind IN THE YARD are worth a grand each, we are out of luck 🙂

JennaNo Gravatar Reply:

Ouch! That is rough. But you can recycle mattresses!

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Hmm do they pay by the ton? 🙂

» krantcentsNo Gravatar said: { Apr 1, 2011 - 05:04:32 }

In California, it is worst! The process can be 3-6 months if they do not answer the complaint. If they know the system it can go 9 months or longer. You are better off when they move out and starting over. Some landlords will pay the tenant to move out to avoid the delay. Crazy isn’t it?

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

9 months!! that’s insane! I actually thought about paying the tenant to move out, but the management company told me that doesn’t always work around there…it would have been worth it for sure, considering the amount of damage we found (you’ll get to see that on Monday)

» Stacie HoganNo Gravatar said: { Apr 1, 2011 - 07:04:42 }

wow that is horrible jesse. I am so sorry. I also dont understand leaving a place trashed. Its just common courtesy to clean up as much as possible! People are dumb sometimes.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

ha no worries, that’s life right? It baffles me but ya can’t change or predict people….

» eemusingsNo Gravatar said: { Apr 1, 2011 - 11:04:15 }

Oh, my head!!

Do you plan on keeping this rental or trying to offload it?

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

It really depends, our initial plan was 5 years and we are about half that now. Its underwater and I’d like to see if it goes back up but if we can’t get a tenant, who knows. We are doing ok right now but can’t pay two mortgages forever and if something bad financially happened right now we would be in trouble.

» TobyNo Gravatar said: { Apr 3, 2011 - 10:04:59 }

Where in Florida is the property?

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Its in Tampa, are you looking for a place? 🙂

JenNo Gravatar Reply:

I feel your pain. I live in St.Pete and moved away for awhile for a job and had to rent out the house while gone. Without going into any gory details…. I hated my management company. We interviewed several and the one we hired ended up being pretty bad. Our tenant wasn’t bad (rent was punctual), we just had a trashed carpet when we moved back into our home and general neglect. I don’t even want to think about how bad it could have been with a bad management company and a bad tenant.

If I ever have to become a landlord again I will never allow dogs in the property. I love dogs, but I now realize why most properties don’t allow them. I am a responsible owner and wanted to believe others were too…… oh well………

RobbyNo Gravatar Reply:

Yeah. I’ve also learned that a tenants definition of a small dog and mine differ WILDLY! Lol

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

haha ya, all about perspective… 🙂 I wonder if my ex-tenants considered the condition they left the place in “clean”

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

I’m a pretty optimistic and trusting guy, but sometimes I feel like you just can’t trust anyone huh? I mean, do these people treat things like this because it’s a rental, or would their own property take that kind of abuse?

And I’m with you on pets, I’m going to make sure that’s part of my next lease, a pet fee or something. Can we openly discriminate against smokers too? 🙂

JenNo Gravatar Reply:

Well, our lease specified no smoking in the house. As far as I know that is legal to do here (in Florida).

I like to be a trusting person, but I seem to get screwed every time I try to do what I consider to be the right thing. Of course I’m a “heartless b—-” if I watch out for my own interests…. *sigh*

I think as a general rule most people don’t take care of things that they don’t have a vested interest in. This was a long lesson my dad tried to teach me growing up. I know I take way better care of the stuff I have paid for now as an adult. I used to just flop on the couch as a teen and it drove my parents nuts. When I was a renter I tried to take good care of any place I was living because I understood that it belonged to someone else.

I’d recommend a nonrefundable pet deposit on top of the security deposit if you can (not sure if it is legal here in FL). I found that we had to wipe down all of the walls and some other deep cleaning to try to get the dog smell out (I have dogs and it was so bad I couldn’t stand it).

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

hah ya, well if you don’t look out for yourself and be that b**** you get walked all over right? Dog eat dog

Speaking of dog, I’ll be bringing that up to the management company. I know the previous tenant smoked and I don’t want my house all smokey, much less filled with big dogs 🙂

Thanks for the great advice!

» JeremyNo Gravatar said: { Apr 3, 2011 - 06:04:02 }

Bad tenants are a headache.

I had one dump cement down the sinks and in the toilets. Unbelievable.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

That’s awful! Are you still a landlord or did you get out of that? What did it cost to fix that?

» Financial SamuraiNo Gravatar said: { Apr 5, 2011 - 01:04:35 }

Man, I feel your pain! Being a landlord is tough sometimes. You and Sandy from Yes I am Cheap should have a commiseration party!

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Yea, I’ll have to send her a more brief write-up to put on her new site about landlond horror stories 🙂

Do you own any rental property?

» RobbyNo Gravatar said: { Apr 5, 2011 - 05:04:48 }

Good luck man. I’m stuck in the same hell you are, but I live with my tenants. Every month I feel like I gotta beat the hell out of people to get them to pay the rent. The difference is my tenants are outside my door, and I’m pretty agressive with them when they don’t pay, and I will throw them out after 15 days. In Ohio, it’s a landlord state. Don’t pay the rent? You and your junk will be out in the street in 15 days, sometimes faster.

I’ve got a judgement against a tenant I inherited when I bought the place in ’08. 7800 in damages and back rent. I’ve pretty much written it off, but I may get it, someday. I’m crazy enough for buying the building I’ve lived in for years, but you are absolutely insane to do it for as far away as you are. lol

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

I’m very passive but in situations like this, I wish I was more like you. I need to be tough with both my tenants and the management company sometimes I guess. I also regret not learning about the different kind of states laws for tenant/landlord protection. I may have turned down this property altogether, I mean, why does a deadbeat tenant have that kind of power in this situation? Who knows.

How did you file for damages against the tenant?

RobbyNo Gravatar Reply:

A friend who has been in the business said you can trust no one and cannot have a soul. If you allow emotions of a normal person to get involved, they will take advantage of you.

You will be amazed at some of the wild excuses people will come up with. I refer to deadbeats like you have called Professional renters. They know the system much better than you and I EVER will.

In Ohio evictions run in their own civil court. There is the first cause to regain possession, and then second cause, which is when you seek monetary damages. I manage my place myself and have a 50.00 a shot eviction lawyer. she is fast and an absolute joy to work with. All I do is write up the 3 day, sign it, jam it in the fax, then serve cold. 4 days later, she asks if they left. If not, she tells me the court day and time.

I’m tellin ya, I could tell you some stories, and all I have is 1 4 family, and I live in 1 unit. I’m in the process of throwing one out now who doesn’t understand the concept of paying rent on time, but I opted to just not renew her lease. She’s currently 1,400 + late fees. I charge 65 bucks if you don’t pay your rent by the 5th, and start eviction after 20 days of non payment.

I’m with you, I just don’t understand why people can’t pay the rent and tear up stuff. It just blows my mind. I work my tail off to keep this place nice… Some people just don’t care…..

» JenNo Gravatar said: { Apr 6, 2011 - 02:04:51 }

Just remember…. you are the “evil” landlord. So you deserve what you get…. *roll eyes*

Hopefully you get what I am saying. In print it might not come across right.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

OH I hear ya loud and clear! I need to look out for myself, cos no one else will!

» Sandy @ mytenantfromhellNo Gravatar said: { Apr 6, 2011 - 04:04:28 }

Oh Jesse. Welcome to the party!!! So sad to see you. You KNOW that I’m going to ask you to republish this story on the new site. My tenant’s lease is up for renewal and guess what? She didn’t pay. I didn’t plan on renewing her lease anyway so she gets the BOOT!

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Can do Sandy 🙂

I just can’t understand people, especially your tenant. I mean, lie after lie, and wasn’t her rent paid because of disability? Is she your first tenant in that place?

Sandy @ mytenantfromhellNo Gravatar Reply:

I inherited her when I bought the place. Inherited tenants are the absolute worst. Yes, a program pays most of her rent but she has to pay the other portion. It’s not paid until she pays the entire thing…which she has not. So, off went the letter. I expect a phone call from her soon with crying and stories.

RobbyNo Gravatar Reply:

I’ll second the inherited tenants are the worst!

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

I guess technically these tenants were inherited too! it must be true 🙂

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

That’s so weird, I mean she doesn’t even have to come up with the full payment and can’t make it. I’ll be looking forward to reading how that call goes.

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