Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in Florida

I live in Florida and only have a verbal lease I have lived at the residence for over three years when I was not home today the locks were changed and all my stuff is inside but he put my computer outside and it got rained on.What are my rights what can I do?

Asked on 8/30/13, 9:39 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Barry Stein De Cardenas, Freixas, Stein & Zachary

You were entitled to notice of the termination OR notice of non payment. The landlord did not have a right to remove your stuff without notice. The landlord likely is responsible for any damages to your items. Seek legal help.

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Answered on 8/30/13, 9:40 am

Byron Petersen Byron G. Petersen P.A.

Assuming your landlord did not base his actions on a court order (and your question reads like he did not) you have various claims against him, the least of which may be damage to your computer (and don't forget damages for data loss). I am also assuming that you had no problems inside your residence which might entitle the landlord to enter without consent on an "emergency" basis.

Florida emphatically forbids a landlord from taking tenant issues into his or her own hands. Tenant removal can only occur after an eviction action, an unlawful detainer action, and/or an ejectment action and then only if the Judge has ruled in favor of your landlord and the Sheriff has then proceeded to serve you with what is called a "Writ of Possession".

What your landlord did is called "self-help" in the case law. Again, "self-help" is strictly forbidden in Florida.

You appear to have claims for punitive damages, trespass to real and personal property, invasion of privacy, violation of Florida's landlord/tenant Act, a traditional damages claim for compensation for items like your computer, and perhaps breach of your month to month verbal lease. You likely also have a claim for conversion (the exercise of unlawful dominion and control over the property of another without consent- i.e. moving your computer). If you win a conversion action you are entitled to punitive damages. The fact your landlord even touched your computer is a conversion under Florida Law.

Landlords are expected to be savy concerning tenant rights. Otherwise they will probably be punished, and severely.

If there are no complications which did not find their way into your question you should recognize that you have many rights here and a strong prospect of a material award by judge or jury. However, and what I warn most people, if you plan on staying while pursuing and winning your cause, then in some cases you can expect hassles and retaliations in the future.

This is not a legal opinion and your should not rely on my observations. If you seek a legal opinion upon which you can rely you will need to formally retain an attorney and engage in a face to face conference with your attorney. The Legal Services agency in your County may also be of help to you.


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Answered on 8/31/13, 3:28 pm

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