My question involves criminal law for the state of: Florida
On July 3rd I received a call from my former neighbor telling me that the rental home I own across the street from him appears to have been abandoned. He stated he hadn't seen any cars or activity for over 2 weeks. So I dialed the tenants phone and found it had been disconnected.
When I drove over there I looked though the decorative glass on the front door and I could see that the furniture had been moved out. A landlord has a right to enter his property in Florida in an emergency to protect and preserve his property.
My lease also has a clause in it that says if a substantial amount of furniture is removed that the property is considered abandoned and that I can move anything left inside to the curb and change locks.
So that is what I proceeded to do. The place was a mess and dirty dishes were piled up in the sink with food dried onto them and the house stunk and roaches and flies were all over the place. I put the dishes in a box and placed them on the side of the road.
A few hours passed while I am trying to clean up the mess left behind when the door flies open and the tenant bursts in and loudly demands "Don't try to leave, I am calling the police on your for breaking and entry. I have your car blocked so don't try to get out.” The phone had already been disconnected and removed so I told him, I'll call the police for you.
I walked outside but I could not leave because my car was blocked in. After about 10 or 15 minutes the police did show up. The tenant told the officer that the neighbor across the street had called him (apparently she knew his new number) and that he had blocked my car to prevent me from leaving until the police arrived.
After hearing both our stories the officer told me he would not charge me because I was only removing his property to the side of the road as allowed by FL Law (FS 83) under the good faith assumption that he had abandoned the property. However, he said that since the tenant had returned and claimed he had not moved out yet, I would have to leave.
Then he admonished the tenant for blocking me on purpose and directed the tenant to move his car so that I could leave. He moved his car and I left.
Can I charge the tenant with unlawful detention? Blocking my car and ordering me not to leave seems to meet the definition. I'm really frustrated because all he did was remove the rest of his valuables, and then left all the trash and junk (old shoes and clothes, broken things, etc.) behind and left that same day, but he still has not relinquished the house to me and does not reply to letters. The police told me I'd have to evict him.
I had to pay for the eviction and process all the paperwork and that is coursing its way through the system but since he gave no forwarding address I doubt I can collect my court costs back from him. The neighbor told me he told them what city he was moving to, nearby. I have his car tag number.
He did this for spite, after moving out in the middle of the night without giving me a notice. I want justice.