If you own property in Florida and need to evict a tenant, it's important to know what steps you can take to evict a tenant who has violated your lease.
Here are the basic steps on how to evict a tenant in Florida while also saving money on attorney fees:
- Provide your tenant with a notice to pay or quit. This tells the renter that they have to either comply with the lease agreement or vacate the premise.
- Fill out a complaint form and file for eviction with the appropriate courthouse.
- On the form, you will be asked to list complaints. The court will review the following:
- Proof of attempt to evict a renter from real property in a particular county.
- Proof that the landlord owns the specific property at the provided address
- Copies of the signed rental agreement showing the tenant and landlord have agreed to the terms.
- The date of when the issue(s) for the cause of eviction occurred and the timeline provided to rectify it.
- The date the defendant was served the notice to pay or quit.
The tenant will have 5 working days to respond if your filing is accepted by the court. If the tenant does not answer or does not rectify the outstanding issues, the local county court will schedule a hearing.
After which, you will want to serve the hearing notice to the tenant along with the case number, hearing time, date and venue details, and the date of the notice. Check with your local court on the legal ways to serve this notice.
At the hearing, the judge will hear both arguments and pass judgment. If passed in favor of the landlord, the sheriff is ordered to evict the occupant. The sheriff will then serve a summons of possession to the occupant ordering them to vacate the property.
If they do not comply, the sheriff will perform a lockout. Afterward, the landlord will want to change the locks and legally store any remaining possessions of the tenant.
Types of Notice in Florida
A landlord in Florida must have "cause" for their eviction. This means that the landlord has a reason to end the lease early. In Florida, a landlord can terminate a tenancy early and evict a tenant for several different reasons:
- Failure to pay rent
- Violating part of the lease or rental agreement
- Committing an illegal act on the property
To terminate the tenancy, the landlord must first give the tenant written notice. The reason for the termination determines the type of notice:
- Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit: When a tenant is three days late with rent (excluding Saturday, Sunday, and legal holidays), the landlord can give the tenant a three-day notice to pay rent or move out of the rental ("quit"). The notice must state that the tenant has three days (excluding Saturday, Sunday, and legal holidays) to pay rent or move out of the rental unit. The landlord can file an eviction lawsuit if the tenant doesn't pay rent or move by the deadline. (Fla. Stat. § 83.56(3) (2022).)
- Seven-Day Notice to Cure: If a tenant violates the lease or rental agreement, and the violation can be corrected, the landlord may provide the tenant a seven-day notice to cure. The notice must give the tenant seven days to fix the violation. The landlord can file an eviction lawsuit if the tenant doesn't meet the deadline. (Fla. Stat. § 83.56(2)(b) (2022).)
- Seven-Day Unconditional Quit Notice: An unconditional quit notice informs the tenant that their lease is over due to a violation and that they have seven days to vacate the property. This provides no opportunity for the tenant to fix the lease violation and informs the tenant that they must vacate the property within seven days or the landlord will proceed with an eviction lawsuit. In Florida, landlords can use this type of notice only for 3 reasons:
- The tenant intentionally destroys the rental property or other tenants' property.
- The tenant creates unreasonable disturbances on-premise.
- The tenant repeats the same lease violation within 12 months.
Frequently Asked Questions about Florida Evictions:
How do I terminate a month-to-month rental agreement?
- A landlord may terminate without cause a month-to-month tenancy by providing the renter a written notice at least 15 days before the end of the monthly period. This notice must inform the renter that the agreement will end in 15 days and that they must move out of the property by that time. (Fla. Stat. § 83.57 (2022).)
How do I terminate a fixed-term lease?
- In Florida, a landlord cannot terminate a fixed-term lease without cause. However, the landlord can choose to not renew the lease regardless of if there is cause. Florida landlords don't have to give tenants notice that the lease isn't being renewed unless stated in the terms.
How do I deliver a termination notice?
- Florida law requires landlords to mail termination notices to tenants. If the tenant is no longer at the property, the landlord can leave a copy of the notice at the rental. (Fla. Stat. § 83.56(4) (2022).) Always keep a copy of the notice.
Can my tenant fight the eviction?
- A tenant may choose to fight the eviction and this can prolong the time it takes to repossess the property. If procedural mistakes are made by the landlord during the eviction, the tenant may ask the court to dismiss the case. Other defenses by the tenant may argue that the landlord failed to maintain their side of the agreement.
How do I remove my tenant?
- It's important to remember that you can never take actions into your own hands when it comes to the forcible removal of your tenant. The only lawful way to remove a tenant from a rental property is to follow the termination procedures outlined by your local government, and then get an eviction order from a court. Only a law enforcement officer—such as a sheriff—can physically remove a tenant from a rental. Taking illegal self-help measures can have serious consequences such as fines, and dismissal of the eviction judgment.
What do I do with my tenant's abandoned property?
- If personal property is left behind after a tenant moves out or is evicted, the landlord must reach out to the tenant in writing. This notice must describe the property in detail, inform them of ongoing costs of storage, state where the property can be claimed, and provide a deadline (at least 10 days if the notice is personally delivered, or at least 15 days if the noticed is mailed) by which the property must be claimed. If the tenant does not claim the property by the deadline, the landlord can sell it or dispose of it. (Fla. Stat. §§ 715.10 through 715.111 (2022).)
Dispute is here to help if you want to learn more about the eviction process in Florida.