"Landlord to Sell Property"
ABANDONED PROPERTY Contributed by Attorney John McMillan of Levin & McMillan Attorneys at Law In 1996 Florida Statute 83.67(3) was amended to the following: “If provided in the rental agreement or a written agreement separate from the rental agreement, upon surrender or abandonment by the tenant, the landlord shall not be liable or responsible for storage or disposition of the tenant’s personal property; if provided in the rental agreement there shall be printed or clearly stamped on such rental agreement a legend in substantially the following form: BY SIGNING THIS RENTAL AGREEMENT THE TENANT AGREES THAT UPON SURRENDER OR ABANDONMENT, AS DEFINED BY THE FLORIDA STATUTES, THE LANDLORD SHALL NOT BE LIABLE OR RESPONSIBLE FOR STORAGE OR DISPOSITION OF THE TENANT’S PERSONAL PROPERTY.” If the lease or a separate agreement has the above provision a landlord appears to be able to dispose of a tenant’s property through sale or throwing it away without following the cumbersome alternative procedures as described below. Also, anytime after the sheriff has executed a writ of possession against the tenant, his or her property may be removed “to or near the property line.” (Florida Statute 83.62 (2)) even without a F.S. 83.67 (3) agreement. If neither of the above applies, by following the provisions of Florida Statutes, Sections 715.10 through 715.11 (a copy is included in this guide), a landlord can sell property left in a dwelling after eviction or abandonment and apply the proceeds to any advertising and storage costs and any rent due. The procedures vary depending on whether the total value of the property is more or less than $250.00. In both circumstances, a letter must either be given to the former tenants ten days or mailed fifteen days before sale or disposition of the property. Form letters are included with other forms in this guide. The only difference in the letters is the last paragraph, which specifies the different procedures depending on the property value. Property valued more than $250.00 may be sold only after an advertisement of the sale is published once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation where the sale is to be held. The advertisement must contain a description of the goods, the name of the former tenant or tenants, and the time and place of sale. The sale must be held at the nearest suitable place to where the property is stored. The sale date must be at least ten days after the first publication and at least five days after the second publication. Advertising may be started before the time has elapsed in the letter notifying the tenants of the right to reclaim. Property owned by someone other than a former tenant, but remaining in a dwelling after eviction or abandonment may be disposed of in the same manner as a tenant’s property. The notice of right to reclaim must be sent in the same manner. Probably the landlord could not rely on F.S. 83.67 (3) or 83.62 (2) would apply. If the landlord has a money judgment against the tenant, an alternate procedure is to have the sheriff sell the tenant’s property. The sheriff charges to do this and any prior judgments docketed (recorded) with the sheriff would first be paid from the proceeds of sale (after deduction for sale costs). Every Florida resident has a $1,000.00 exemption for judgment and landlord’s liens against personal property. Thus, much, if not all, of a landlord’s lien could be wiped out by a tenant or tenants claiming this exemption. For example, two roommates could claim a $2,000.00 exemption. It is up to the tenant to raise the issue and prove his right to the exemption. The exemption probably does not apply to advertising and storage costs. This material cannot be copied or used without express consent from the contributor. 1