Landlords may often find themselves getting frustrated with eviction guides, which give you only general information rather than information that is specific to your location. Unfortunately, most comprehensive guides can only go into so much detail!
This guide, however, is specifically for landlords looking to learn how to evict a tenant in Florida.
It’s not that evicting a tenant in Florida is incredibly different than eviction in any other state, but there are some unique things that you need to know.
If you don’t know the right procedure on how to evict someone in Florida, you might find yourself wasting your time, money, and mental energy on a longer-than-necessary eviction process.
Instead of resigning yourself to that fate, learning about the eviction procedure before you need it is a sure way to protect your investment.
Even if you’re here because you want to evict someone and aren’t sure where to begin, you’re making the right choice by getting more in-depth knowledge. Let’s dive into this simple and instructive guide for how to evict a tenant in Florida!
A Table of Contents For Eviction in Florida
- What is Eviction & When Does It Apply?
- What a Landlord Can’t Do
- How to Evict a Tenant
- How to Evict a Tenant Without a Lease
- Preparing For The Future
Eviction is when a tenant must move out at the request of the landlord. The reasons for eviction vary, but the key point is that the landlord is the property owner, and they have a right to request a tenant to leave the property for a number of reasons.
Some of the most common reasons for eviction include:
- Unpaid rent
- Breaking lease terms
- Illegal activity
- Regularly late rental payments
- No written lease
- Demolishing property
These are not the only reasons that a landlord can file for eviction, but these are the reasons that occur most frequently. As a landlord, these are the situations that you should be prepared for and become most familiar with because they are the most common.
Once you understand how to deal with these situations, you will be better equipped to handle any type of eviction situation that arises while you are doing business.
Before we get into the specifics of what a landlord can and should do to legally evict a tenant from their property, let’s take a moment to talk about what you are not allowed to do.
While the property that the tenant is residing on is yours as stated above, that does not mean that you are allowed to treat the tenant badly or do anything illegal!
As a landlord hoping to evict a tenant from their property, you should never commit any of the following actions to get them to leave:
- Shut off utilities
- Changes locks
- Remove doors
- Forcibly make the tenant leave
- Threaten or blackmail the tenant
- Taking their property
Despite you being frustrated with the situation that you are in, doing any of these things will just make it worse in the long run. If you do these things and are sued by the tenant, you may have to pay them for rent or damages.
This will just hurt you in the long term, so stay calm and follow the proper procedure even when it seems impossible to do so.
Now that we have covered the basics of what eviction is and what you cannot do while trying to evict a tenant, let’s talk about the right procedure for eviction in Florida!
Please note that there are a number of steps that you need to become familiar with, and some of them may be confusing at first. Rest assured that these steps will help you to get a better idea of how eviction works, but every eviction can be a little different. Have patience and learn with the process!
Step 1: The Written Notice
The very first thing that you need to do as a landlord is alert the tenant that they may be evicted. Rather than just calling them or sending them a quick note in the mail, you are legally required to send them a notice of eviction.
To ensure that you can legally prove that you gave the right notice to your tenant for eviction, it is best to send this type of notice with certified mail. 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.
If you are evicting a tenant because they are not paying rent, you must give a 3-day notice. This means that 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 your tenant gives you the full amount of rent within the time period, you must accept it and stop eviction proceedings.
If they try to give you an amount less than the full amount, you should not accept it and continue with the eviction process.
They broke the lease.
Did your tenant break rules that were written into the rental agreement or lease that you both signed?
If so, there is a specific thing that they are doing or have done that is not allowed. Examples of this include not cleaning, parking in the yard, or having pets.
So, if the terms of the lease have been broken, 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 tenant fixes the problem, stop the eviction process. If it happens again within 12 months, you do not have to give the tenant a chance to fix the issue. A 7-day notice is all that will be required to evict a tenant in Florida in this situation.
There are some unique cases of broken leases in which the tenant does not get a chance to fix the problem. One big example of this would include serious property damage, and in this case, the tenant would receive a 7-day notice to quit the property.
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.
Thankfully, Florida is one of the states where the waiting period for eviction is relatively short!
Step 2: Nonaction & Complaints
If the tenant does not fix the problem or move off of the property during the given 3-day or 7-day notice period, the landlord can then file for an eviction hearing.
This means that the tenant was given a chance to fix the problem but did nothing.
To sue the tenant for eviction, you must go to the Clerk of Court. There, you pay a fee to file complaint paperwork, which will begin the lawsuit process.
The court will then handle sending out a court summons and complaint about eviction to the tenant through service of process.
They will get a copy in the mail as well as at their door, and these summonses are considered to be legally binding.
Step 3: Response Period
Once the tenant has been served with the complaint and court summons, they will have up to 5 days to respond to the complaint. As with the notice, the 5 day period begins the day after the complaint is served and does not include weekends or holidays.
Here is what happens during the response period:
- The tenant must respond in writing listing their defense for why they do not believe they should be evicted. This response must be filed with the Clerk of Court in the same way that you as a landlord filed your complaint.
- The tenant must send a copy of their response to you.
- If the tenant does not respond, the court may settle with a default ruling against them.
- The tenant must pay the court the amount owed to you in rent if applicable.
- The tenant may file a motion to determine the rent amount if they disagree with the amount you claim they owe.
As you can see, this is a back-and-forth type of period in which the court is gathering the information necessary to make a decision.
While it may be stressful, don’t worry. You are only here because the tenant hasn’t met their end of the agreement, so there is no reason to believe that the court won’t rule in your favor.
Step 4: Court
If no type of judgment is reached during the response period, the court will set a date for a hearing. The court hearing information will be given to both you and the tenant by the court.
At this point, all that you need to do is show up with the relevant proof of your situation in hand. This means that you should come prepared with:
- Copy of lease
- Photographs of damages or other issues
- Anything you want the court to see
- Anyone who was witness to the problems at hand
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 5: Eviction
Once you have been awarded a Judgment for Possession, it is time to actually evict the tenant from your property. Still, you cannot simply go there and force them to leave!
Instead, the court will take your Judgment for Possession and send a writ of possession to the local Sheriff.
The Sheriff will post a notice, giving the tenant 24 hours to leave. If they do not leave in this period, the Sheriff or landlord can kick them out and padlock the doors. Any belongings left inside can be used as a lien for money or damage repair costs owed.
Are you in a situation where you don’t have a written lease, or your lease doesn’t have an applicable end date?
It’s still possible to go through the eviction process in these cases, but the way to handle eviction in these situations is a bit different. Like the notices above, all of these notices must be given in writing when applicable.
No Written Lease
If there is no written lease, in most cases, you can evict a tenant or they can leave the property at any time. No proper notice must be given, though most try to give a few days. But you’ll want to check with your local county to be sure there are no local restrictions.
Notice must be given 15 days before rent is due for monthly agreements. If rent is paid weekly rather than monthly, notice has to be given only 7 days before rent is due.
Lease With No End Date
If a written lease exists but has no end date, notice must be given according to the terms in the lease. If there are not specific terms in the lease, no notice must be given.
As you have probably learned throughout this process, eviction isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to do. But that doesn’t mean that it is fun! Eviction can be grueling, and no landlord wants to do it more than once.
Unfortunately, eviction is part of the business. There isn’t much that you can do to prevent it from happening, but one way that you can lower your risk of ending up in an eviction situation is to choose better tenants.
The right tenant will be more responsible and less likely to end up in an eviction situation with you. Going through a thorough tenant screening process while choosing your next tenant can help save you from dealing with eviction ever again!
Eviction isn’t fun, but it is very doable. No matter what your experience level is as a landlord in Florida, you can successfully evict someone that is taking advantage of you and your property.
You just need to do these things:
- Send a notice of eviction
- File a complaint with the Clerk of Court
- Attend the eviction hearing
- File the writ of possession with the local Sheriff
When you break down the overall eviction process to these smaller bits, you can see that eviction doesn’t have to be a terrifying event. Even in Florida, you can accomplish this task!