The 3 day notice to pay or vacate in Florida is the most commonly-used landlord-tenant form to enforce the lease agreement. In Florida, F.S. 83.56(3) requires that the landlord provide the tenant with notice to pay back rent before being able to file an eviction. Florida courts have ruled on many issues involving this 3 day notice form, and failure to use it correctly and deliver it to the tenant correctly may result in the landlord losing the eviction case.
The following is a diagram of the essential elements of a 3 day notice form.
The tenant’s name must be spelled correctly. All tenants who are named on the lease agreement as tenants must be listed in the notice. Failure to name a tenant in the notice will render an eviction defective based on that notice, especially as it relates to the un-named tenant.
Landlord and Agent Name
The Landlord’s name must be correct in this notice. The property owner is the landlord, and the landlord may have an agent to manage the property for the landlord. Be sure to properly identify and name the landlord or the landlord’s agent in the notice as coming from the landlord. If the landlord’s agent has not notified the tenant of their agency, be sure to attach a letter to the 3 day notice notifying the tenant that the landlord has hired you as the agent.
Additionally, landlords must ensure that their company and fictitious names are registered in the State of Florida.
The address of the premises must be correct and complete in the notice. Be sure to include the street #, street name, unit #, city, state, zip code and county. If you state the address incorrectly it is grounds for dismissal of the eviction. Take note of what the lease agreement address is and ensure that it is the correct address. If it is not, and you simply copy the address from what’s in the lease agreement, you will end up putting the incorrect address in the notice. Always check the address for a notice for accuracy and completeness.
The Statutory Language – “Pay or Vacate”
F.S. 83.56(3) requires that the “pay or vacate” language be in substantial conformity as follows:
You are hereby notified that you are indebted to me in the sum of dollars for the rent and use of the premises (address of leased premises, including county) , Florida, now occupied by you and that I demand payment of the rent or possession of the premises within 3 days (excluding Saturday, Sunday, and legal holidays) from the date of delivery of this notice, to wit: on or before the day of , (year) .
(landlord’s name, address and phone number)
Failure to have the proper language in the notice will render it legally defective.
You can only demand “rent” as defined by the lease agreement. Do not include any rent that is defined as such in the lease agreement. If you violation this rule, your eviction will be legally defective. Also, some courts require that you itemize the accounting of the back rent owed, so that the tenant has a specific notice of what rent is unpaid. Not all courts follow such a strict rule, but one approach here is to attach the rent payment ledger to the 3 day notice (and reference the attached ledger in the notice). That way, the tenant has specific notice as to the rent unpaid and its accounting. Before you do this, however, it is advisable to get advice from an attorney.
To calculate the 3 day “pay or vacate” deadline, do not include the date of delivery, weekends, or legal holidays. If you do, the notice will be legally defective, and the court may dismiss your eviction.
Pay “On or Before”
State the “pay or vacate” date as “on or before” the date required using the proper calculation method (see above). Failure to state the pay or vacate date will render the notice defective.
Lease Termination Consequences
Include in the notice to pay or vacate specific language that states the consequences of failing to pay or vacate as demanded. If you do not include specific language about the consequences of failing to pay or vacate, the tenant could raise defense issues for failing to notify the tenant of such consequences.
Landlord Signature Block
The landlord SHOULD sign the 3 day notice on the landlord signature block, but not all Florida courts require that the landlord sign the notice as long as the landlord’s name is stated. After all, the statute, F.S. 83.56(3) does not require a signature. Still, go ahead and sign the notice to avoid the issue.
The landlord must also include its phone # and address in that “signature block”. Again, if the landlord has an agent, the agent can sign and deliver the notice on the landlord’s behalf, but be sure to notify the tenant of the agency and state the correct names of the landlord and agent in the notice.
Certificate of Service
Complete the certificate of service correctly. Be sure to state the method of delivery, date of delivery and location of delivery. Under Florida law, the landlord has to deliver the notice in one of these ways: 1) deliver a copy of the notice to the tenant, 2) post a copy of the notice in a conspicuous place on the premises in the tenant’s absence or 3) mail a copy of the notice to the tenant’s address.
More could be addressed on this topic, but one appellate court in Florida has ruled that e-mail constitutes proper notice delivery to the tenant, but the dissenting opinion stated that if this is true, then the landlord must add 5 days to the notice period. While the majority opinion did not state that as a rule, it may be prudent to add 5 days to any electronic mailing of a notice to satisfy the dissenting opinion approach.
The server must sign the certificate and provide his or her name. Also, be sure to keep a copy of the completed notice that was delivered for your records.
Here is a sample certificate of service.