Holdover Tenant

Holdover Tenant

April 13, 2023, 12:00 am blog-header-image

A lease agreement is a long-term contract and runs anywhere between 6 months and a year, whereas a rental agreement typically runs on a monthly basis. A holdover tenant is a tenant who overstays the term of their lease!

Holdover tenants are also referred to as “tenants at sufferance.” It simply means that the tenant is living on the property at the landlord’s ‘mercy’. As a landlord, you have a right to decide whether or not to continue renting to the tenant after their lease has expired.

That said, it’s important that you understand your rights and responsibilities in regard to a holdover tenancy. In this post, we at Suncastle Property Management will go over what landlords need to know about holdover tenants.

Potential Issues Holdover Tenants Create for Landlords

A holdover tenancy is far from ideal. The following are some of the issues that can come about when a tenant stays past their lease:

  • Evicting a holdover tenant is different from other actions taken for landlord-tenant disputes.
  • You may not have control over when the tenant will eventually move out. And when the tenant does lease, it may come at a time when finding a tenant may be difficult.
  • You may have to postpone any scheduled maintenance or renovation tasks.
  • You may not be able to change the terms of the agreement, such as raising rent, as long as the tenant continues to stay.

person in a suit banging a gavel with their other hand on a legal book

Options Landlords Have When a Holdover Tenant Refuses to Leave

Generally speaking, you have two options if facing a holdover tenancy:

1. Continue Renting to the Tenant

If you continue collecting monthly rent payments, you technically grant the tenant the legal right to continue living there. The tenancy will continue based on the previous lease agreement’s terms and conditions.

2. Evict the Tenant From Your Property

This is another option you have if the tenant refuses to leave your property. Landlords in Florida can evict tenants for a number of reasons including, nonpayment of rent, a lease violation, and failure to move after the lease expires.

State law treats a holdover tenancy like a month-to-month tenancy. The following is a basic overview of the eviction process you’ll need to follow for successful removal:

  • Terminate the tenancy. You’ll need to serve the tenant with a 15-day notice. This will give the tenant a maximum of 15 calendar days to move out on their own. If they stay put, then you’ll need to continue with the next processes.
  • File a lawsuit with the court. You must do this in the court where your property is located. Using the e-filing portal is probably the easiest way of doing this.
  • After a successful filing, the county clerk will issue you with a summons and complaint. These legal documents will then need to be served to the tenant by a process server or a county sheriff.

paper with the words eviction notice in bold red letters on it

  • Give the tenant time to respond. If they do, they may argue that you tried to evict them through self-help means, accepted a rent payment, or that the eviction notice had errors. Depending on the reason, you may need to start the process all over again or stop it altogether, which may give the tenant more time to live on the property.
  • Attend the court hearing. If the tenant doesn’t show up or you win the case anyway, the court will issue a judgment. You will then need to obtain a Writ of Possession.
  • Take back possession of the property. Once issued with the Writ of Possession, the tenant will have a maximum of 24 hours to leave. If the 24 hours lapse before doing so, the sheriff will be left with no option but to evict the tenant forcefully.

If you’re not experienced with Florida eviction laws, hire a professional to do it for you. A qualified property management company will help you navigate the process smoothly. You can also count on their professional help to assist you to find a replacement tenant.

The Rights of a Holdover Tenant

Just like any other tenant, holdover tenants do have certain rights including:

  • Not experiencing retaliatory measures. It’d be unlawful of you to retaliate against them by doing things like raising their rent. Holdover tenancies continue under the same terms and conditions as the previous lease.
  • The right to a proper eviction process. You must not try to evict the tenant by changing their locks, removing their personal belongings from the unit, or shutting down their utilities.

judge taking notes at their desk with a small statue of lady justice in front of them

How Landlords Can Avoid Holdover Tenants

The best way to deal with a holdover tenant is to avoid things escalating to that point in the first place. The following are some tips to help you reduce the risk of dealing with a holdover tenant:

  • Remind the tenant when their lease is about to end well in advance. Send the notice at least 60 days before the expiry date. You may also want to send a follow-up reminder just in case the tenant may have forgotten.
  • Don’t accept a rent payment after the lease has expired. Accepting a rent payment will give the tenant the legal right to live there.
  • Ask for help from an experienced property manager in Florida if you choose to evict the tenant.

Bottom Line

While being a landlord can be lucrative, it does come with a few challenges. And among them is having to deal with a holdover tenancy. Whether or not to continue renting to the tenant will depend entirely on you.

Do you still have a question regarding any aspect of holdover tenancy? Or, are you looking for help managing your rental properties? If so, look no further than Suncastle Property Management. We provide professional property management services to St. Augustine investment owners!

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