Recently, I was asked to help an industrial property owner where the previous tenant had abandoned some equipment. He wanted to know how to handle the abandoned property, what his responsibilities were, could he let other people remove equipment from the building or could the abandoned items simply be thrown away. According to Florida Statute Sec. 715.10 -715.111, before acting a landlord must provide written notice to the previous tenant and other parties (such as the tenants equipment vendor) that the landlord thinks may have a legal interest in the abandoned property.
Written notice needs to identify the property with specificity and advise the previous tenant that they must pick up the property within 10 days (if the notice is delivered in person) or within 15 days (if the notice is sent by mail) of the property being sold or disposed of.
What is the value of the abandoned property?
The landlord needs to determine the property is value. If the property value is less than $500 at the end of the applicable time period (10 or 15 days depending on how the notice was sent), then the landlord has three options: a) claim title to the property and take possession of it; b) dispose of the property, or c) sell the property and keep the sale proceeds.
If the property value is more than $500, the landlord must take an additional step. The additional step requires the landlord to advertise the abandoned property for sale for at least two consecutive weeks in a local or regional newspaper. After deducting the costs of storage, advertising, and the sale costs, any balance of the proceeds from the sale which are not claimed by the former tenant (or an owner other than such tenant) shall be paid to the county were the sale occurred.
Florida landlords can recover costs
Whether the property value is more or less than $500, the landlord always has the right to recover the money spent storing the property, advertising its sale, and selling the property. The cost of storage is calculated by determining the fair rental value of the storage space needed to store the property either on or off the premise. The Florida Landlord/Tenant Statute is strictly construed. We suggest you follow the rules to the letter and use a real estate attorney.
Call Franklin Street with your real estate questions, Laurence Kahn, 407 756 8861 or Larry.Kahn@FranklinSt.com.