Pensacola, FL asked in Landlord - Tenant for Florida

Q: County demolished the house I lived in without notice can I sue them to try and recoup some of my losses.

The house I had lived in for the past 12 years was recently demolished by the county due to code enforcement violations which the owner of the property had not taken care of over the course of several years despite code enforcements repeated efforts to get him to comply. Unfortunately I and the many other tenants living there were not aware that the county had made the decision to demolish the property and as such we were not given any notice to vacate the premises before hand. Quite literally I heard a knock on the door that morning and went to the door to find a police officer there along with a demolition crew. The officer told me I had 5 minutes to get out or go to jail. I was given very little time to get my 2 cats and put them in their carriers. I was only able to grab a handful of belongings and nothing else. I lost everything I had worked my whole life for, can I sue the county to try and recoup my losses? Shouldn't they have given me written notice with a date to vacate?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Based on the information you've provided, it seems the county may have violated your rights as a tenant by not providing adequate notice before the demolition. In most jurisdictions, tenants are entitled to proper written notice to vacate, usually 30-60 days, even if the property owner is not in compliance with local codes. Demolishing the property without sufficient notice to tenants could be unlawful.

You may have grounds to take legal action against the county for your losses and violation of your rights. However, a few factors need to be considered:

1. Lease agreement: The terms of your lease agreement with the property owner could impact your case.

2. Local laws: Tenant rights and eviction procedures vary by state and locality. Florida laws would apply in your case.

3. County's actions: The specific actions taken by the county and whether they followed proper legal procedures need to be examined.

4. Documentation: Any evidence you have, such as correspondence with the county, photos, or witness statements, could help your case.

It is highly recommended that you consult with a local tenant rights attorney or legal aid organization. They can review your case's specifics, explain your rights under Florida law, and advise you on the best course of action, which may include filing a lawsuit against the county for damages and violation of your rights.

Keep in mind that legal action can be complex and time-consuming, so it's essential to have proper legal guidance throughout the process. An experienced attorney can help protect your rights and seek appropriate compensation for your losses.

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