In The Florida Bar re Advisory Opinion — Nonlawyer Preparation of and Representation of Landlord in Uncontested Residential Evictions, 605 So.2d 868 (Fla. 1992), this Court reviewed a proposed advisory opinion of The Florida Bar Standing Committee on the Unlicensed Practice of Law on the question of:
605 So.2d at 869. We approved that portion of the proposed advisory opinion that concluded that it is not the unlicensed practice of law for a property manager to draft and serve a three-day notice. We also approved that portion of the opinion concluding that it is the unlicensed practice of law for a nonlawyer to draft and file a complaint for eviction and motion for default and to obtain a final judgment and writ of possession for a landlord in an uncontested residential eviction. However, we rejected the Standing Committee's suggestion that property managers should not be authorized to engage in these activities.
Subject to reconsideration one year from the date of our decision, the Court authorized property managers to complete,
The Standing Committee, the Florida Real Estate Commission and the Conference of County Court Judges all suggest definitions for the term "property manager" as used in our opinion. However, the Standing Committee and the Real Estate Commission offer a more limited definition than that currently being used by a majority of the county court judges. The Standing Committee and the Commission ask that the term be defined narrowly to include only those persons licensed as real estate brokers or salespersons under chapter 475, Florida Statutes (1991). The Real Estate Commission points out that it has authority to discipline such individuals and to administer the Florida Real Estate Recovery Fund to any person or corporation who is adjudged to have suffered monetary damages by a real estate licensee. §§ 475.25,.482, .484, Fla. Stat. (1991). It is the Commission's position that by restricting the authorization to real estate licensees the
The approach advocated by the Conference of County Court Judges better implements our intent that those individuals who are responsible for the day-to-day management of the rental property be allowed to handle uncontested residential evictions on behalf of the landlord. Under the judges' approach, a "property manager" is one who is "responsible for the rental and management of the property, as evidenced by such factors as responsibility for maintenance and collection of rent."
Accordingly, for purposes of this opinion, a "property manager" is defined as one who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the residential rental property, as evidenced by such factors as responsibility for renting of units, maintenance of rental property, and collection of rent. Corporate property management firms that have primary responsibility for the rental and management of residential rental property are included in this definition. Real estate brokers and salespersons who are licensed under chapter 475 also may qualify as "property managers" if they otherwise fit within this definition.
To ensure that a property manager has been designated to handle evictions on the landlord's behalf, the landlord must give the property manager written authorization to do so. The written authorization should cover only the completion, signing, and filing of the pleadings necessary to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent. It cannot serve to designate the property manager as the plaintiff in the eviction action or to authorize the manager to seek the recovery of past due rent.
Accordingly, our opinion of October 8, 1992, is clarified as reflected in this opinion.
It is so ordered.
BARKETT, C.J., and OVERTON, McDONALD, SHAW, GRIMES, KOGAN and HARDING, JJ., concur.