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How do I evict "squatters" that are unauthorized relatives of my tenants?

Holiday, FL |
Filed under: Real estate

I had secured tenants for a rental house in Holiday, FL. They started lying about money problems in October claiming they had been laid-off. Knowing Florida is in a bad state, I offered them a discounted two months (deducted from their deposit) and they sounded relieved. December's rent never came. I could not reach them, checked on work status (still working) and chased them down for $250 after leaving a 3-day notice.

They were apparently leaving today but when my real estate agent dropped by to put a lock-box on the house, the son-in-law, daughter and 3 grandchildren are now living there, claim that they had been paying the tenants rent and want to pay me in increments.

I can't evict someone not on the lease.

1) Can I legally turn off the water? 2) How do I get them out?

Thank you!

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

Do not turn off the water.
You can be held liable for three times the rent for the length of time that the water (or any utility that you are responsible for) is off.

Did you ever accept rent from the people who are living in the house now?
Do you know their names?

Did you ever get the keys or a letter turning over possession to you or your agent from the original named tenants? Do you have proof that the original named tenants abandoned the property and took up residence elsewhere? If not, then technically, they may claim that they are still in possession. They may show up a week from now and claim that never intended to move out.

You may need to sue the original named tenants for possession using the three day notice or you may need to sue for unlawful detainer or ejectment of "unknown occupants."

Please go see a local real estate or landlord/tenant attorney. Good luck!

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1 comment

Asker

Posted

Thank you so much, Carol, I will leave the water alone. To answer your questions: No, I have not received rent from the relatives. However, they have my bank account info and claim to be making a deposit on Thursday. Wondering if I should freeze the account to prevent this. I know their first names only. They had promised to fill out a rental application Friday when they were surprised by my agent trying to install a lockbox. I did not get keys returned - but have an email from the original tenants claiming they would be out by the 30th. I requested a letter which they lied about sending. I found a process server today who suggested serving an eviction notice to the original tenants as well as the Unknown tenants 1 and 2. A three-day was served before Christmas but I did not follow-through when I received the email stating they would leave by month's end. Thank you again!

Posted

You cannot use self help remedies such as turning off the utilities or changing the locks on the door. To legally remove them from your property, you must take action through the courts. You should contact an experienced real estate lawyer in your area about bringing an action for unlawful detainer or an action for ejectment.

Disclaimer: This answer is provided for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Actual legal advice can only be provided after completing a comprehensive consultation in which all of the relevant facts are discussed and reviewed.

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Posted

My fellow attorneys are giving you the straight answer. You need to resort to court action to remove theses people. You can get the forms from the Courthouse for I believe a small fee or online for free (I believe Pasco has the forms online- Hillsborough has them for sure). You need to evict these new persons and the original tenants unless you can determine they abandoned the property, which I would bet against. I would get a forwarding address of the original tenants and send them a certified letter telling them you are keeping the deposit because of unpaid past rent they owe you. Hopefully that letter is sent within 30 days of their abandonment. If you have no forwarding address, send it to the last known address - the house- they may have a post office forward order placed and if not, you did the best you could. And you can evict someone not on a lease. You probably need a lawyers help because these issues could be tricky and frustrating. Use a Tampa Bay local attorney. It might you less than you think.

Good Luck.
Michael Lygnos, Esq.
Lygnos Law Firm
Tampa, FL
813 259-9494
marinelaw@msn.com

Legal disclaimer: This answer does not constitute, legal advice nor does it constitute an attorney-client relationship. www.lygnoslawfirm.com Free Consultation 813 259-9494 Michael Lygnos, Esq., Lygnos Law Firm P.A., Serving Tampa Bay, Florida

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4 comments

Michael Nicholas Lygnos

Michael Nicholas Lygnos

Posted

By the way, if you accept a partial payment you must re-issue the three day notice. I would not take an rent from them.

Carol Lynne Zimmerly

Carol Lynne Zimmerly

Posted

A LL can refuse to accept anything less than the full amount listed on the 3 day notice. You may accept partial if you'd like, you would just re-issue a new valid 3 day notice.

Carol Lynne Zimmerly

Carol Lynne Zimmerly

Posted

A LL is only obligated to send the security deposit notification letter if the LL has received a notice from the Tenant at least 9 days before the Tenant leaves. However, I always advise my clients to send a letter to the Tenant at either the property address or the forwarding address if you have it and send it certified return receipt requested.

Michael Nicholas Lygnos

Michael Nicholas Lygnos

Posted

Carol, I stand corrected. Fla. Stat. 83.49(5) says 7 day notice if a tenant left prior to end of the lease term. This issue comes up all the time. My landlord clients never send the letter, and I have dealt with it often, so like you, I recommend sending a letter.

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