right to gain access to a property that i still reside in, owners have changed the locks. My drivers license and bills are still in my name, wife's parents own the property and are avoiding my calls & request to pick up my furniture & belongings. do i have a legal right to gain access to the house?
Good evening. The owners cannot hold your property hostage. The owners must provide you reasonable access to remove all your possessions. In addition, the owners cannot simply lock you out. In order to terminate your right to occupancy, under Florida law, an owner can only terminate the tenancy of a tenant such as yourself by giving written notice of at least 15 days. If the tenant does not leave voluntarily, under Florida law, the owner will then need to give a 3-Day Notice to Quit...meaning the tenant must vacate the premises within that period or face formal eviction. Then, if the tenant still has not left, the owner must file a petition for an eviction order. Once that is granted...the owner can have the sheriff evict. Unfortunately, what the owner cannot legally do is move the tenant's stuff out, change the locks, or exercise any other means of "self-help" eviction prior to obtaining the eviction order from the court. Should the owner take any self-help steps such as locking the tenant out or holding the tenant's possessions hostage, it is an illegal eviction and subjects the owner to both actual and punitive damages.
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