Eviction Defense in Pensacola

Eviction Defense in Pensacola

Eviction Defense in Pensacola

Renters have rights! Even if you rent your home and miss the monthly rent payment you cannot be forced to move out unless your landlord files a lawsuit against you called an “eviction” action.

Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order Number 20-94 on April 2, 2020, which suspends and tolls, “any statute providing for an eviction cause of action under Florida law solely as it relates to non-payment of rent by residential tenants due to the COVID-19.”

Because of Coronavirus national unemployment rates have risen significantly. The governor temporarily stopped evictions based on non-payment of rent, but if you are served with eviction paperwork, you should call us. We understand that you have a lot on your plate. You may be looking for a new job, working on ‘remote-learning’ with your kids, or looking for a new place to live. If you don’t have time to research Florida’s landlord tenant statutes then call our office for a free consultation.

Defenses: I have read hundreds of three-day notices and eviction lawsuits over the years and I know what legal defenses to raise on your behalf.

Some that we see frequently involve the following issues:

  • Generally, if you fall behind on your rent payments your landlord has to serve you with a notice to either pay your rent within three days of the date of the notice (not including weekends or legal holidays) or to move out. The three-day notice has to have specific language in it or it is defective.
  • If you pay the rent – or part of the rent – and your landlord accepts it, or waives your default, he or she has to issue you a new three-day notice before filing an eviction.
  • You may be able to challenge the authority of the plaintiff to file the eviction case if someone else owns the property.
  • If your landlord is a corporate property management company, you may be able to demand that the business hire a lawyer to represent it at any court proceedings.

If your landlord files an eviction against you then you still have rights. You will have five days from the date you are served with court paperwork (not including weekends or legal holidays) in order to file a response with the court. This means if you get served with the papers on a Tuesday then you generally have to file a response with the court by the following Tuesday. Your response should list all the reasons you disagree with the eviction action. Your response should NOT ask the judge to give you extra time to pay your back rent or assert that the Court should be lenient with you. Every tenant in landlord tenant court is facing a hard time, so the judge will not be able to consider your request. You are better off showing the judge why your landlord is legally not allowed to evict you.

Overwhelmed by an unfair eviction process? Call us!

I have lots of experience in representing tenants in landlord/tenant court so I can tell you generally what to expect if you are served with an eviction complaint.

If your landlord files an eviction against you will have five days from the date you are served with court paperwork (not including weekends or legal holidays) in order to file a response with the court. This means if you get served with the papers on a Tuesday then you generally have to file a response with the court by the following Tuesday. Your response should list all the reasons you disagree with the eviction action. Your response should NOT ask the judge to give you extra time to pay your back rent or assert that the Court should be lenient with you. Every tenant in landlord tenant court is facing a hard time, so the judge will not be able to consider your request. You are better off showing the judge why your landlord is legally not allowed to evict you rather than appealing to personal reasons.

Once you file your response the court will usually set the case for a hearing to determine whether you owe rent money. The judge will look at receipts you have which prove that you have paid rent, but the judge will sometimes prevent testimony at these hearings, so be prepared and bring the judge copies of your receipts or print outs of bank statements to show how much money you have paid your landlord.

Once the judge decides whether you owe the landlord any past due rent, the judge will order you to pay the rent money into the court registry for the clerk to hold onto until the judge decides to whom the money belongs. There is usually not much time between when the judge orders you to pay the rent into the registry and the time the money is due. Sometimes it is due on the same day, so make sure you have access to all the funds so you can pay the clerk. If you fail to pay the money into the registry before the ordered deadline the judge will issue a default judgment for eviction against you.

Once you have paid your rent money into the court registry the court will set the case for a hearing so you can present any defenses or affirmative claims you have.

Call us to talk about your case. We recommend hiring a lawyer to come with you to present your best case to the judge. For example, if you want to present exhibits, like photos of the home, receipts, text messages, etc., you need to follow several steps in order for the judge to consider your exhibits as evidence. Some judges will refuse to look at text messages between a landlord and tenant if messages are not printed because the messages will not be a part of the court record- the record of the proceeding from which an appeal could be taken. It’s your day in court- make sure you are heard!

We also find that many landlords are willing to negotiate with tenants and we are always happy to try to negotiate a settlement of a landlord/tenant dispute. We have the experience to negotiate a final resolution that will help you move on to a brighter future.