Do you want to learn more about the eviction proccess in Florida? Just like elsewhere in the country, Florida landlords have a right to evict their tenants for certain reasons including nonpayment of rent and violation of the lease/ rental agreement. You must however follow Florida’s legal eviction process for it to be successful.
You cannot take matters into your own hands and carry out the eviction by yourself. For instance, removing your tenant’s belongings or locking them out of their rented premises would be considered an illegal form of eviction in the state of Florida.
The following are the specific requirements you must meet to be successful in removing a tenant from your Florida property.
Step #1: Florida Eviction Notice
There are different types of eviction notices, and each serves a different purpose depending on the violation committed.
The following are the common lease violations and the specific notices a landlord must serve when looking to evict a tenant:
Non-payment of Rent
This is the most common reason for tenant evictions in Florida. According to the state statutes, rent becomes due at the start of each pay period, usually the 1st of every month, and it’s considered late the following day.
When rent is late, you can begin the eviction process by serving the tenant a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. The written notice gives the tenant the option to either pay all the due rent or move out within 3 days. If the tenant does neither, you can proceed with the eviction action.
Tenancy at Will
You may be able to evict a tenant at any time if the lease has ended or there is no written lease in place. To start the eviction, you must first serve the tenant with a lease termination notice. The exact notice period depends on the interval upon which rent is paid.
For tenants who pay rent on a :
- month-to-month lease, landlords must serve them a 15-Day Notice to Quit.
- weekly basis, a landlord must give them a Sevent Day Notice to Quit.
- quarterly basis, you, as the landlord, must give them a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
- yearly basis, a landlord must provide them with a 60-Day Notice to Quit.
If the tenant doesn’t move out after their lease has ended, you, as the landlord, can start formal eviction proceeding against them.
You can also evict a tenant for violating the terms of their lease agreement. Examples of a lease violation can include being too loud, subletting without permission, or keeping an unauthorized pet.
If you wish to evict a tenant from the property for such offenses, as the landlord, you must serve them with a 7-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate. The written notice gives the tenant two options, either remedy the violation or move out within the notice period. You can proceed with the eviction if they fail to honor the notice requirements.
For more severe violations, you must serve the tenant with a 7-Day Unconditional Quit Notice. Examples of such offenses include repeated violations, illegal activity, and excessive rental property damage.
Step #2: Complaint Filing
If the tenant doesn’t cure the violation or move out within the stipulated time, as the landlord, you can file a complaint and summons with the appropriate court. Once these documents have been notarized by the county clerk, a process server or a county sheriff will serve the document to the tenant.
Generally speaking, it’ll take around 5 days for the court to issue the summons after the eviction lawsuit is filed. The tenant has the option to contest the complaint. If the tenant responds to the eviction complaint, they must do so in writing and file it with the court’s clerk.
The following are common tenant eviction defenses:
- You used “self-help” eviction procedures against them. Taking matters into your own hands, like shutting off utilities or locking the tenant out, is unlawful.
- Failed to send the proper notice. A landlord must follow specific guidelines when creating and delivering an eviction notice to a Florida tenant. The written notice, for instance, will be considered defective if it lacks crucial information like the notice period. This will, however, only serve to delay the eviction.
- You failed to maintain the rental unit to habitable standards. Under the state’s landlord-tenant laws, landlords must comply with the Warranty of Habitability. If you don’t comply with it, your tenant may have several options to pursue, one of those options being to stop rent payments until you fix the issue. It’ll then be unlawful for you to try to evict the tenant for nonpayment of rent.
- You’re retaliating against the tenant. A landlord cannot retaliate against a tenant for exercising one of their rights. Such rights include complaining to the relevant government agency for the landlord’s failure to maintain their unit, and forming or joining a tenants’ union.
- You are evicting the tenant based on discrimination. Discrimination against tenants based on their protected characteristics is unlawful under both federal and state Fair Housing Laws.
Step #3: Writ of Possession
If your Florida tenant fails to show up for the hearing or the court rules in your favor, you’ll be issued with a Writ of Possession. This is a legal document that serves as the tenant’s final notice to leave their rented premises.
A landlord must always follow the state's rental laws when carrying out an eviction. As a landlord, you have to stay informed of any changes to this legislation and any other rental regulations such as leasing, Florida landlord-tenant law, and security deposit laws.
If you would like help managing your properties consider hiring the services of a qualified property management company like Gifford Properties & Management Company. Their team of experts will be happy to assist you in any way they can!
Disclaimer: This blog is not a substitute for professional legal advice. Laws keep changing and this blog might not be up-to-date at the time you read it. For expert help, please consider hiring a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company.