Our practice is more than just law. We pride ourselves in providing counsel that considers all angles of our clients’ decisions. Once set of circumstances that we encounter often is the cash-strapped landlord.
We can help you title your properties so they don’t carry unnecessary liability. However, the most common call we get from landlords is “I need to evict my tenant! What are my rights?”
We generally offer flat fees for evictions (it gives you the certainty of knowing how much you will spend on legal fees). Just like you would call someone for a quote to fix something like a broken pipe or fix an electrical problem to find out how much it will cost, why shouldn’t you be able to call an attorney to find out how much it will cost to evict a bad tenant?
A rental property must be run like a business- business owners can’t simply pocket all of the revenue each month, and neither should you. A rental property, like every other business, has fixed and variable expenses. Pipes break, roofs leak, tenants stop paying, these are the realities of owning a rental property.
A non-paying tenant is worse than a broken pipe or malfunctioning air conditioner. When your tenant doesn’t pay, you have lost income, as well as the cost of regaining possession of the property so that you may rent it out to someone who will pay.
These costs are all predictable. The only real question you, as the landlord, have to ask is this: “Which of these costs will I encounter, and when?” This gives you the ability to set aside some of the rent money to prepare for these costs (just like you would do with portion of the rent that covers the insurance and mortgage payment). By not doing this you’re betting your business asset that nothing will break, and your tenant will never miss a payment. If you don’t make sure you have the capital to cover the mortgage or HOA/condo association fees, your rental property might end up with liens on it or worse- facing foreclosure! Rental properties also don’t generally get homestead protection under the Florida Constitution or statutes, so you have very little protection from creditors.
While it’s possible to sue the tenant for back rent or other damages, people don’t generally stop paying rent because they just don’t feel like it (although in college I lived with a guy who had exactly that problem- needless to say it became my job to walk the check to the office). That means that pursuing money damages may be fruitless- you can get the judgment, but if there’s nothing there to satisfy it, you’ve thrown good money after bad. Which is as bad for business as not protecting your source of income.
We recommend holding some funds in your business account as a legal action account. Although under the Florida Statutes, and hopefully under your lease, a landlord may be able to receive a judgment for attorney’s fees in an eviction action, a delinquent tenant may not be a collectible defendant. So you cannot necessarily count on receiving a full reimbursement for rent that is not paid. Consulting with an attorney will allow for you to be fully informed of your case.
Your rental property is a business. If you properly title it, properly budget for costs, and plan for emergencies, you’ll have a rainy day fund to maximize your investment. Your rental property should pay you, you shouldn’t have to put money into it, especially only because of a lack of planning.