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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 28471
Experience:  Attorney
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1) In (Broward County)Hollywood, Florida A landlord entered

Customer Question

1) In (Broward County)Hollywood , Florida A landlord entered a tenant's apartment and while he was not home and packed up all of his belongings, then drove it to the tenant's brother's house and left it on the side of the road.
2)The tenant was at a job site working on a yacht during a 2 day window to do painting job before the heavy rains after 2 days.
3) The landlord used the knowledge of the 2 day job (since the tenant would not be home) to have uninterrupted access to the apartment to 'clear out' the apartment.
4) The tenant was informed in the morning by the brother of all of this belongings on the side of the road and abandoned the job site to confront the emergency issue.
5) When the police arrived for assistance, they noticed the 'apartment' was really a sub-section of a single family home. They built 3 'apartments' which effectively convert the single family to a multifamily. Essentially there are no apartment numbers.
My questions;
a) The owner of the yacht who was getting the paint job, has significant loss of hiring the labor, buying the materials, and losing on clients since the job was not complete. Does the yacht owner have legal standing to sue the landlord since the landlord used knowledge of the scheduling of the tenant to time the 'clear out.'
b) Is it legal to convert the single family home into a multifamily home like that? Are there any actions to take with this new knowledge?
c) Does the tenant have legal access to the entire single family home? Since he was renting the sub-section of the 'apartment', there is no apartment number defining the limitation of the rental agreement. Can he legally enter the 'main' part of the house?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

a. Unfortunately, no. This is a dispute between the landlord and the tenant, and while the landlord's actions are UNQUESTIONABLY inappropriate, the tenant cannot collect damages on behalf a third party. Damages have to be reasonably foreseeable at a time someone is wronged, and it's not reasonably foreseeable that a third party would lose business clients. The owner of the yacht wouldn't even be able to collect that amount from the tenant due to the delay in completing the job. The landlord also doesn't have to assume that the tenant would stop the job and drive home immediately, rather than finishing the job.

b. It would be legal if the landlord pulled permits for the construction and had the property legally converted. If the property is in a city that requires a certificate of occupancy, he would need one for each property to make it legal. Or it would be legal if he were renting out rooms in an overall house, rather than separate apartments with their own kitchen facilities and things like that. You could check with the city to see what, if any permits, he requested. However, usually the remedy for a landlord who is illegally renting a property is that he's not entitled to collect rent going forward. So, if he sues the tenant for unpaid rent, that's a defense, but it wouldn't otherwise benefit the tenant. (The tenant could, however, report the landlord, who will likely be fined by the city for any illegal construction or renting).

c. It depends on what the tenant was renting. A person who rents a room in a house usually has access to all common areas, but it depends on the terms of the lease. The tenant in that scenario usually wouldn't have access to other people's private bedrooms or bathrooms. Because the eviction was illegal, the tenant can go to court and get a court order permitting him re-entry to the leased areas, plus a penalty of three times the monthly rent amount, plus attorney's fees. Fl. Stat., Section 83.67. If the tenant's actual expenses (including temporary lodging) are more than three times the rent, he'd be able to recover that instead.

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