A Guide to the Eviction Process in Florida

Landlords in Florida have a legal right to evict their tenants for certain lease violations. Normally, evicting a tenant in Florida takes anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks. However, it may take longer depending on the eviction reason and whether or not the tenant contests it.

Common reasons for evictions include:

  • Failure by a tenant to pay rent
  • Failure by a tenant to move out after their lease expires
  • Foreclosure of the rental property
  • Failure by a tenant to uphold lease terms and policies. For example, illegally subletting the unit
  • Failure by a tenant to uphold their responsibilities as outlined under the state’s landlord-tenant law

For a successful eviction, you must follow the Florida step-by-step eviction process. This includes:

  • Posting the eviction notice for the tenant to either fix the violation or move out
  • Filing a Summons and Complaint with the county court
  • Attending the hearing
  • Obtaining a writ of possession and taking back the property’s possession

Step #1: Post the Eviction Notice

The first step in the eviction process begins with serving an eviction notice. An eviction notice serves two fundamental purposes.

For one, it terminates the tenancy. Two, it tells the tenant the violation they have committed and what they must do within a certain timeframe to rectify the situation.

Florida eviction laws

You must serve the eviction notice in a proper manner by using any of the following methods:

  • Hand delivering the notice to the tenant.
  • Mailing a copy of the notice to the tenant via certified mail, regular mail, or registered mail.
  • Leaving a copy of the notice in a conspicuous place on the property. For example, on the front door.
  • There are different Florida eviction notices depending on the violation a tenant has committed.

Failure to Pay Rent

In this case, you must serve the tenant with a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. The notice gives the tenant 3 days to either pay the overdue rent or move out of the rental premises. If they don’t take either option, you can continue with the eviction process.

Staying After Lease Ends

The eviction notice to serve them depends on how often they paid rent. If they paid weekly, you must give them a 7 days notice. For those who paid monthly, you must serve them a 15 days notice. And for those who paid rent on a year-to-year basis, you must give them a 60 days notice.

Lease Violations

This notice period depends on whether the violations are curable or not. Curable violations are minor and include actions like keeping unauthorized pets, illegal subletting, and failing to maintain the property to a certain level of cleanliness. If a tenant commits any of these, you must give them an opportunity to fix or cure them.

Tenant evictions in Florida

For incurable violations like the destruction of property or illegal activity, you don’t have to give the tenant a chance to fix them. You can move to court directly and file a summons and complaint.

Step #2: File the Complaint

Once the notice period ends, the next step in the eviction process is to file a complaint with the proper court. If everything goes well, the county clerk will notarize the summons and complaint. This will then be given to a process server to serve the tenant(s).

After the complaint is served, the tenant will have an opportunity to respond. They must do so in writing and file it with the court’s clerk within 5 days. Some of the reasons the tenant can give in their effort to fight the eviction include:

  • You tried to evict them by changing their locks, removing their belongings, or shutting off essential services. These are examples of “self-help” eviction procedures and are illegal.
  • The eviction was in retaliation to the tenant exercising any of their legal rights, such as withholding rent for your failure to make repairs.
  • There were errors made during the eviction process. For example, you failed to serve the proper notice to the tenant. But while such an error won’t stop the eviction, it’ll provide the tenant more time to live in the unit.

Evicting tenants in Florida

  • You falsely accused the tenant of a violation.
  • You failed in your responsibility of ensuring the unit complies with the state’s health, safety, and structural codes.
  • The eviction was a result of discrimination. As a landlord, you have a legal responsibility of treating your tenants fairly and equally regardless of their protected classes.

Step #3: Prepare and Attend the Hearing

To prepare for the hearing, make sure to carry as much evidence as possible. At the very minimum, make sure to bring the following:

  • A copy of the lease or rental agreement
  • The eviction notice
  • A copy of the complaint
  • Any other supporting evidence, such as billing statements, photos of the damage, or witnesses

If the judgment falls in your favor, the court will issue you with a Writ of Possession. This will be the final notice for the tenant to move out. If they don’t move out within the notice period, the sheriff will evict them on your behalf.

Summary

As a landlord, it’s vital that you follow the state's legal eviction process. If you find this process and or any other aspect of rental law overwhelming contact a property management company.

The team at Suncastle Properties are well versed in landlord-tenant laws, security deposit law, leasing regulations, and more. Contact us today to learn more about our services!

Disclaimer: This content is only meant to be informational and not a substitute for expert advice. Also, laws change and this content may no longer be updated at the time of your reading. If you have a question or need legal assistance please contact a licensed attorney.

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