I had a lease as of 11/1/2010. The owner wasn't sure if the potential buyers were going to purchase a home or not. They informed us that they would write us a new lease as of Dec. 1st, 2011. Unfortunately (for us!) the new home is sold and the closing is on Dec. 15th, 2011. We received a "text" message stating that we were to be out of the house by Jan. 10th, 2012. We've NEVER had a late payment.
I'm a single mother with a 7 year old little boy and I'm a full-time student, as well. We have nowhere to go and not a lot of money to move, anyway.
What are my rights? What can I do? Can they tell me to vacate when they don't even own the house yet?
Real Estate Attorney
The timing is very important. If you and the landlord signed a new lease on 12/1/11, You may have some rights to stay in the house. If you did not sign a new lease, you are on a month to month basis and the landlord has the right to give you a 15 day notice to vacate. You may be able to negotiate a silightly longer term (possibly until the end of January), but if the new owners want your out of their house, they can probably make you leave. You may want to consult an experienced real estate lawyer in your area about your rights.
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.
Employment / Labor Attorney
The answer of the prior attorney is accurate. I would add that typically a buyer takes a home subject to existing leases. Thus, if your status had become month-to-month as a hold-over tenant, then you could be given the notice indicated to vacate or face eviction. On the other hand, if you actually signed a new lease or an extension for another year, then you have the rights under the statute or whatever contractual provisions were agreed upon in the lease, itself, as long as they do not violate public policy.
Admiralty / Maritime Attorney
The other attorneys are correct. Try legal aid for help. Jacksonville Legal Aid is a great office doing good work. They might recommend a local aid office or give you some advice.
You are a month to month if you do not have a written lease, as appears to be the case. The text message does not appear to be proper notice, and you should receive a written notice, giving you (I believe 30 days- but might be 15 days as other attorney suggests) time to vacate. Maybe best to try to work out an extension with the landlord, as already suggested, because eventually they will succeed in removing you.
If the landlord files an eviction action, you should try and dispute the notice. Improper notice could require thay have to redo it and get you more time to find a place. Many judges will make you file the undisputed rent into the court registry before they will review any affirmative defenses/mot to dismiss.
After you are out, remember, the landlord must notify you in writing (certified RRR) within 15 days of vacating if they plan to keep a portion of your security deposit, or landlord must return the entire deposit, and if you hire an attorney they can get fees. So don't remind the landlord of that and make sure you give him a forwarding address. If you have not received the letter within the time write demandingthe entire deposit returned.
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