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Liens and Distress Actions

December 22, 2020 FAQs

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Q: What is the landlord’s lien for rent?

A: Section 83.08, Florida Statutes, provides that a landlord has a lien for unpaid rent upon the tenant’s personal property. The lien is upon all agricultural products raised on the rented property, upon all other property of the tenant “usually kept on the premises,” and upon “all other property” of the tenant. Certain property of the tenant is exempt from distress and sale to enforce the landlord’s lien for rent. Exempt property in the commercial setting includes “beds, bedclothes and wearing apparel.”

Source: Fla. Stat. §§ 83.08 and 83.09 (2012).

Q: How is the landlord’s lien for rent enforced?

A: Enforcing the landlord’s lien for rent begins with filing a distress for rent complaint, which initiates a distress for rent proceeding. Distress proceedings are summary in nature and informal. A distress writ shall be issued by a judge of the court which has jurisdiction of the amount claimed. The remedy of distress for rent only applies to commercial tenancies, and is abolished with regard to residential tenancies.

Source: Fla. Stat. §§ 83.11, 83.12, and 713.691 (2012).

Q: What’s included in a distress for rent complaint, and where is it filed?

A: The distress for rent complaint must be verified, and it must state the name of the tenant and his relation to the landlord, facts showing how the rent obligation arose, the amount or quality and value of the rent due, and whether the rent is payable in money, farm products or another form of consideration. It must be filed in the court that has jurisdiction for the amount claimed in the county where the leased premise is located.

Source: Fla. Stat. § 83.11 (2012).

Q: What is a distress bond?

A: Before a judge can issue a distress writ the landlord must file a bond with surety to be approved by the court clerk, and payable to the tenant in at least double the amount demanded; or, if property, in double the value of the property sought to be levied on. The bond should be conditioned to pay all costs and damages which the tenant sustains if the landlord institutes an improper distress proceeding.

Source: Fla. Stat. § 83.12 (2012).

Q: What is a distress writ?

A: A distress writ is issued by the judge in a distress for rent proceeding, once the landlord files its distress for rent complaint and distress bond. The writ enjoins the tenant from damaging, disposing of, secreting or removing from the leased premises any property subject to the distress writ, from the time the distress writ is served to the tenant until the sheriff levies on the property, the writ is vacated or the court orders otherwise. A tenant may be punished with contempt of court if he violates the distress writ. If the tenant does not file a motion for the dissolution of the distress writ under Section 83.15, Florida Statutes, before the time for answering the complaint has expired, the sheriff shall seize the property liable to distress.

Source: Fla. Stat. § 83.12 (2012).

Information and Source reference for this webpage is courtesy of Florida Commercial Landlord Tenant Law (Nicholas C. Glover, supplemented by Douglas MacGregor; LexisNexis Matthew Bender) and Florida Statutes Chapter 83.

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