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Richard, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 55705
Experience:  32 years of experience as lawyer in Texas. I'm also a Real Estate developer.
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In December 2012 a member of my family who lives in my house

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In December 2012 a member of my family who lives in my house was asked to move out. He has not payed rent for the past 3 years. The house belonged to my mother and me. My mother died in 2000. At the time the family member was leaving with her. He did offer to pay but throughout the following years he did so spasmodically. He slowly lowered the amount until 3 year ago when he completely stopped paying rent.
In the beginning of June 2013, I received a letter without a date from his wife. She asked me to allow the family to remain for an undetermined time until they could find lodging. With the letter came a check signed by her in the amount of $300. I had been told that the couple did not live together, and the check has a different address as the one from the house.
I plan to reside in the house after my retirement in 2014. The house is in need of repairs and I need to do so before taking residence. How do I evict them without causing a rift in the family? I was told that there is a way that they can declare themselves as owners of the house and I will lose it completely. Please advise me. Thank you.
Welcome! My goal is to do my very best to understand your situation and to provide a full and complete answer for you.

Good morning. Even though he is paying nothing, he is deemed to be a month to month tenant. Under Florida law, an owner can terminate the tenancy of a month to month tenant 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.

With regard to the ability to claim ownership of the property, you would be referring to the concept of adverse possession. Adverse possession is the process of claiming title to real estate by taking it and occupying it for a period of time. Adverse possession requires the following conditions to be met: i) actual possession of the property; ii) open and notorious use of the property; iii) exclusive use of the property; iv) hostile or adverse use of the property; and v) continuous use of the property. Under Florida law, to claim real estate by adverse possession without color of title, a person must have possession for a period of seven (7) years and pay the assessed taxes pursuant to Florida Code §95.16-.18. Because your family member has lived there with your consent (and thus not adversely) until December 2012 and has not paid the taxes, he would not prevail in any effort to gain title by adverse possession.

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Thank you so much for the positive rating! I appreciate having had the opportunity to serve you! If I can be of assistance to you in the future, just look me up and I will be happy to help! For easy access, my bookmark is:
Thank you also for the generous bonus! I appreciate your kindness!