When tenants breach a commercial lease agreement, Florida law provides landlords with three options:
- Consider the lease terminated and resume possession of the premises for the landlord’s own purposes (i.e., for the “landlord’s account”);
- Hold possession of the premises for the “tenant’s account” and seek general damages for any amount not recovered by re-renting the premises;
- Take no immediate action but, rather, wait to sue the tenant as future rent becomes due, or for an accelerated amount if allowed under the lease agreement.
General damages are the difference between the contract rent and the amount the landlord can recover through a good faith effort to re-rent the premises. However, if the landlord accepts the tenant’s surrender of the premises, then the tenant is relieved of liability for future rent due under the lease agreement. Therefore, rather than accepting the tenant’s surrender of the premises, a landlord may attempt to re-rent the premises as an agent for the tenant under the tenant’s account. This provides the tenant with a set-off of its liability for the new rent received. If the lease contains an acceleration clause, then the landlord may claim all rent for the entire term due upon one instance of default. However, the landlord’s right to accelerate the rent is lost where a landlord re-rents the premises for the tenant’s account or takes possession of the premises with the intent to terminate the lease.
A landlord may bring an eviction action against a tenant who defaults in rent payments after providing three days’ written notice. See § 83.20(2), Fla. Stat. (2018). In any eviction action, the tenant must pay into the court registry the amount alleged in the complaint as unpaid rent, together with any rent accrued during the action.
Commercial landlords also have a statutory lien for rent against the tenant’s property found on or off the premises and in the possession of any person. See § 83.08, Fla. Stat. (2018). This statutory lien is available only if the underlying lease exists. A landlord must enforce the lien for rent through statutory distress for rent proceedings. If successful, the court will issue a distress writ in favor of the landlord, which the landlord can have a sheriff execute against the tenant’s property. See § 83.11–83.19, Fla. Stat. (2018).
If you’re in doubt about your rights or need representation relating to a landlord/tenant dispute, contact Fort Lauderdale real estate litigation lawyers at (954) 440-0901 to assist you with your dispute. The Fort Lauderdale real estate litigation lawyers at The Carlin Law Firm, PLLC regularly represent individuals and companies in landlord/tenant disputes and can assist you in identifying and pursuing a sound course of action.