Don't lock out your tenant, even if the lease says so

Don't lock out your tenant, even if the lease says soA Florida landlord recently learned that “self-help” is not allowed for evicting a tenant, even if the parties’ lease says it is.

In Palm Beach Florida Hotel and Office Building Limited Partnership v. Nantucket Enterprises, Inc., the parties’ lease supposedly allowed self-help (the case doesn’t say what the lease language was). The tenant leased and operated a restaurant inside the landlord’s hotel. After the city closed the restaurant for doing renovation work without the required permits, the landlord locked the tenant out of the restaurant. A few days later, the landlord had the police escort the tenant’s employees from the hotel and terminated the lease.

The court ruled that the landlord was allowed to use only the methods of regaining possession of its property provided for by Florida law. Locking the tenant out is not one of those.

The tenant sued the landlord for being wrongfully evicted and won. On appeal, the appellate court also sided with the tenant. The court rejected the landlord’s argument that its method of eviction – locking the tenant out – was allowed even if the lease said it was ok.  The court ruled that the landlord was allowed to use only the methods of regaining possession of its property provided for by Florida law.

Locking the tenant out is not one of those.

 

 

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