Defending Against Commercial Evictions

There are many reasons a landlord can use to evict a commercial tenant, the primary being failure to pay rent on time, or pay other charges which may be classified as “additional rent” such as common area maintenance fees, taxes, etc….  Unlike residential tenancies, where the tenants are treated as consumers, in commercial tenancies, tenants are treated as sophisticated parties, limited to the terms of their lease agreement, and Florida general real estate law as it relates to commercial leases, with very few protections. To make matters worse, commercial leases are usually one-sided in favor of the landlord.  Therefore, it is important to try to avoid an eviction, and when an eviction case is filed, the business that must act quickly to get professional help.

Here are some things you can do to proactively avoid or delay an eviction:
  1. Keep in constant communication with your landlord. Get to know the decision maker, and build a strong relationship with him/her.  This helps build trust, cooperation, and understanding.
  1. If you are in default for payment, ask your landlord to set up a temporary payment plan, temporarily reduce rent, accept a partial payment for the current period, or push back the rent due date by a few days or a week.
  1. If you are in default for anything other than payment, seek clarification from the landlord and ask for time to cure or fix the default. If there is a genuine dispute as to whether or not there is a default, try to hold a settlement conference with the landlord to discuss the issues and try to reach an amicable agreement.  If you are unable to reach an agreement, see if the landlord is willing to use a mediator to help you and the landlord reach and agreement.
  1. If there is a natural disaster or other event that was beyond your control that caused the default, let the landlord know and ask for a concession or accommodation.
  1. If you are unable to get the landlord to accommodate you during this difficult time, hire Private Corporate Counsel to help you negotiate with the landlord.
Eviction Notice

If the landlord has filed suit, there may be defenses that you have against the eviction, rights that you have either under the law or the lease agreement that you may not be aware of, and strategies that may be used to help you through the process with the best chances of success.  Remember, in Florida’s courts, your business has to be represented by a lawyer licensed to practice law in Florida, so you cannot represent the business in court yourself, and should contact Private Corporate Counsel immediately upon receipt of eviction papers to talk to a business lawyer who specializes in representing businesses in court.

Here are some common defenses to commercial eviction actions:
  1. If there is a legitimate dispute about the amount owed, your Private Corporate Counsel can file a motion to determine the correct amount due.  This will have the effect of slowing down the process to ensure that the parties’ rights are protected.
  1. Based on the parties’ conduct, the landlord may have waived its rights to proceed with eviction. Waiver is an affirmative defense that must be raised in your answer to the complaint for eviction. If you do not raise it, you will not be able to claim it in court.
  1. If the landlord did not provide you with the proper notice prior to filing the eviction case, you may be able to have the case dismissed, or raise it as an affirmative defense in the case.
  1. If the landlord did provide you with notice, but the notice was not a proper notice, you may be able to have the case dismissed, or raise it as an affirmative defense in the case.
  1. If you lawfully withheld the rent due to the landlord’s failure to repair or maintain the premises, you may raise it as an affirmative defense in the case.

In addition to defending the eviction case, you may also have viable counter-claims against the landlord for wrongful eviction, and any other claims justified by the facts of your case.

Eviction proceedings can be a stressful and overwhelming experience for business owners and may end your business.  Therefore, it is critical that you consult with Private Corporate Counsel to talk to a business attorney with experience defending against commercial evictions.  To learn more about how Private Corporate Counsel can help your business call us at 407-647-7887 or email us at

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