If you have a tenant who is residing on your property illegally, it may be time to use your right of eviction. In Florida, tenant eviction can happen for several reasons. As the landlord, you can read through Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes for insight into the Florida eviction process. But what do you do when it becomes time to serve the other party notice of an eviction? This article will explain what to do.
Remember - trying to evict a tenant through threats, disconnecting utilities, or changing locks is illegal. Florida law gives specific guidelines to end a tenancy in a legal way. There are a few types of notices used depending on the eviction. Below are the steps required to file an eviction in Florida. This article will also provide an overview of the rules landlords must follow when evicting a renter or ending a tenancy.
1. Research Your Rights and the Process
Florida law states you will need a reason recognized by the state to evict a renter. As such, you need to determine whether cause exists. In Florida, you can evict a tenant as a result of the following violations;
- Violations of the lease agreement
- Non-payment of rent
- Violations of local, state, or federal laws
- Nuisance, etc.
2. Write Your Notice
Next, you will need to alert the tenant that they may be evicted. You are legally required to send them a notice of eviction. So, a simple phone or sending them a quick note in the mail, will not be legally sufficient. It is best to send this type of notice via certified mail as it ensures that you can legally prove that you gave the right notice to your tenant for eviction. Remember to keep the receipt in case you have to go to eviction court.
The written notice that you give to your tenant will differ in terms and conditions depending on what your reason for needing to evict the tenant is:
- They aren’t paying rent - In Florida, if you are evicting a tenant because they are not paying rent, you must give a 3-day notice. That means the tenant will have 3 days (not including weekends, holidays, or the day notice is given) to either pay the rent that is owed to you or leave the property. If given the full amount, you are legally forced to stop the eviction process.
- They broke the lease - If your tenant broke rules that were written into the rental agreement or lease that you both signed, you can give tenants a 7-day notice to fix it or quit. This means that they have 7 days to fix whatever it is that they did wrong, or they will be evicted. The notice should list details of what is wrong and how it can be fixed. If the problem is fixed, you are required to stop the eviction process. But if it happens again within 12 months, you do not need to provide notice again.
- Other Cases - These are not the only situations that you might need to follow when trying to file for eviction. In most cases, however, tenants in Florida only need to be given either a 3- or 7-day notice period for eviction cases.
Dispute can help you draft a notice and post it days later in minutes from your phone or computer.
Step 3: Nonaction & Complaints
If your renter does not fix the issue or move from the property during the given notice period, you can then file for an eviction hearing. That filing indicates to the court that the tenant was given a chance to fix the issue but did not.
You will want to head to your local "Clerk of Court" to obtain the necessary forms. You will also need to bring a check to pay the court's filing fees at this time. Paying the filing fee formally begins the lawsuit.
After you file your complaint, the court will serve your court summons and complaint about eviction to the tenant through the service of process. This is most likely done by the local sheriff. The defendant will get a copy in the mail as well.
Step 4: Hold Tight
After the tenant has been served with your complaint and the court summons, they are given 5 days to respond. The 5-day prior begins the day after the complaint is served and does not consider weekends or holidays.
There are a few things that can happen during the response period:
- The renter or tenant must respond in writing with a defense for why they should not be evicted. This formal writ must be filed with the Clerk of Court before the 5-day period expires.
- The renter or tenant is required to send (via mail) a copy of their response to you.
- The other party may file a motion to determine the rent amount if they disagree with the amount you claim they owe.
- The tenant must pay the court the amount owed to you in rent if applicable.
- If the tenant does not respond, the court may settle with a default ruling against them.
This time period is provided so that both parties have a chance to provide the court with the necessary information to make a decision.
Step 5: Hearing
If there is no type of judgment reached during the response period, the court will set a hearing date and time. The court hearing information will be given to both you and the tenant by the court and you are both expected to show.
All that's required of you at this point is to show up with evidence of your situation. You should bring:
- a copy of the lease
- photographs of damages, other issues
- anything additional evidence
- anyone who was witness to the problems
This will be your only chance to show the judge that you and your property have been wronged, so it is important that you have everything that you need.
The judge will make a decision during the court hearing. If the tenant does not show up, you will win automatically. If you win, the court will give you a Judgment for Possession.
Step 6: Eviction
After you have received your judgment, it is time to evict the tenant from the property. But remember - you're legally not allowed to show up and force them to leave. Instead, the court will issue your judgment and send a writ of possession to the local sheriff. The local sheriff will perform what's called a "lockout". This means the sheriff will post a notice, and give the tenant 24 hours to leave and if they do not - the sheriff will forcefully remove them and you can padlock the doors. Any belongings left inside can be used as a lien for money or damage repair costs owed.
That's it. That's all there is to serving and evicting a tenant in Florida. If you need help getting started, don't forget Dispute can help you prepare and file paperwork in minutes. If you have any additional questions, please contact us.