A landlord shall not recover possession of a dwelling unit except in an action for possession filed with the County Court (with a few exceptions). To evict a tenant without going to Court is called a “self help’ eviction. The landlord may not cause directly or indirectly the a. Interruption of any utility service furnished the tenant. Includes: utilities under the control of or paid by landlord or provided for in the lease. Examples include; heat, gas, water, electricity, garbage collection, and refrigeration. Fla. Stat. § 83.67(1). b. Change locks or use any bootlock or similar device. c. Remove outside doors, locks roof, walls, or windows except for maintenance, repair etc. d. Remove personal property except after surrender, abandonment or a lawful eviction. The penalty if the Landlord engages in a “self help” is 3 months rent or actual and consequential damages whichever is greater, and costs, including attorney fees. Subsequent or repeated violations, (cut water off in addition to locking you out) which are not contemporaneous with the initial violation, shall be subject to separate awards of damages. Punitive damages for self help may be possible if you can show that the self help was done with fraud, actual malice, or deliberate violence or oppression, or when Landlord acts willfully or with such gross negligence as to indicate a wanton disregard of rights of others. To enforce this you will have to go to Court. You will need a lawyer. The lawyer will file a “Complaint for Declaratory, Temporary And Permanent Injunctive Relief And Damages”, an “Emergency Exparte Motion For Temporary Injunction” and you will need to write An Affidavit stating that you are the tenant and your Landlord locked you out. I believe Charles Simon is a lawyer in your areal that takes theses cases without any money up front. He may require filing fees but filing fees may be waived by the clerk of Court if you are indigent (making less than (I am not sure) $28,000 ?? Ask the clerk DON’T LET YOUR LANDLORD GET AWAY WITH THIS. I am sure he has done it before. If he gets stung by having to pay your costs and attorney fees and pay you three times the rent, he may not do it to the next tenant. IMPORTANT!!!!! IF YOU LANDLORD LOCKS YOU OUT CALL THE POLICE OR SHERIFF AND HAVE AN INFORMATION REPORT FILED DOCUMENTING THE INCIDENT. MAKE SURE THEY WRITE DOWN IF YOUR PROPERTY IS OUT IN THE STREET AND THAT THE LOCKS WERE CHANGED. TAKE PHOTOS OF THE DAMAGES AND TRY TO SAVE EVERYTHING BY PUTTING IN STORAGE IF YOU CAN.
If Charles Simon does not handel thises cases he will know someone that does.