Much like everywhere else in the country, evicting a tenant in Florida requires landlords to follow a very specific legal process under the Florida Landlord-Tenant law. But regardless of what violation your tenant may have committed, you must never take matters into your own hands by doing the following:

  • Throwing out your tenant’s belongings.
  • Locking them out from the unit.
  • Shutting down the utilities they are using.

These are called ‘self-help’ eviction tactics and are illegal in the state of Florida. If you were to take any of these actions, it may leave you legally vulnerable or impact any eviction proceedings.

If you came here looking to know the process of evicting a tenant in Florida, you’ve reached the right place. At Keyrenter South Florida we believe it’s incredibly important for Florida landlords to have a basic understanding of the eviction process.

Legal Justifications to Evict a Tenant

eviction notice

You cannot evict your Florida tenant for whatever reason. For a court to support your eviction request, the reason must be legally justified. Here are the common legal reasons for evicting a tenant in Florida.

Terminating the Lease

The purpose of the eviction notice is to terminate the lease agreement. It notifies a tenant of their violation and what they can do to resolve it, within a certain timeframe. However, if they choose to ignore it, you can proceed to court and file a summons and complaint. Be advised that terminating any lease may mean making adjustments to your security deposit.

But different eviction notices serve different purposes. They are as follows:

3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit

This notice is served when a tenant fails to pay their rent. The notice gives the tenant a maximum of 3 days to either pay the overdue rent or move out. The 3 days are exclusive of holidays and weekends.

7-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate

Florida laws allow landlords to evict tenants who fail to abide by the terms of the lease. For example, illegally subletting the unit, keeping an unauthorized pet, or causing illegal property alterations. Such violations are referred to as ‘curable’ and this notice gives the tenant a maximum of 7 days to fix the issue or else they move out.

agreement

7-Day Unconditional Quit Notice

This type of notice is meant for more serious violations or repeat violators. It doesn’t give the tenant an opportunity to remedy their violation. The only option they have is to move out within the 7-day period.

Examples of violations that fall under this category are excessive property damage and illegal activities.

30-Day Notice to Quit

You must serve this type of notice to a tenant if your property is being foreclosed upon and the new owner has no intention of continuing the tenancy. The notice gives the tenant a maximum of 30 calendar days to leave the rented premises.

File a Complaint to the Court

If your tenant fails to complete the notice requirements, the next step is to move to an applicable Florida court. Generally speaking, filing a complaint can cost you about $185. You may also need to pay an extra $10 for every tenant in order to obtain a summon for each.

The complaint must include some important information. Such as the name of the landlord and tenant, the property’s address, and the county in which the property is located. After notarization by the county clerk, the summons and complaint must be served to the tenant by a process server.

Defending an Eviction

After the tenant is served, they may choose to contest their eviction by responding to the complaint. The resulting effect is that the eviction may take much longer and incorporate additional steps.

Common defenses that a tenant in Florida can use to fight their eviction include the following.

  • Incorrect or incomplete eviction process.
  • The eviction is based on discrimination or a breach of the Fair Housing Act.
  • You tried to evict the tenant as a retaliatory tactic. For example, you initiated the process soon after the tenant reported you to a local government agency for failing to meet the minimum health codes.
  • You tried to evict the tenant through self-help means. For example, by trying to lock the tenant out of their rented premises.

However, if the tenant doesn’t choose to fight the eviction, the eviction process will move to the next step.

Attending the Court Hearing

If the tenant puts up a fight, then there will most likely be a court hearing. The court may require that the tenant pay the outstanding rent until a judgment is made.

If the tenant decides not to show up for the hearing, however, the court will automatically rule in your favor. To ready yourself for the hearing, you’ll want to have the following documents with you.

  • A copy of the lease agreement.
  • A copy of the eviction notice.
  • Any supporting evidence, such as billing statements and photos of the damage.

court order

Writ of Possession

If the court’s judgment is in your favor, they will issue you with a writ of possession. Depending on how available a judge is, it usually takes around 5 days for them to issue a writ of possession.

The writ of possession is the tenant’s final notice to leave. They can use the notice period to remove all their possessions from the unit. If they don’t, the sheriff can use the writ to forcefully kick them out.

Bottom Line

KeyRenter South Florida helps property owners reduce stress by simplifying the complexities that come with residential property management. So, if you need assistance managing an eviction or any other aspect of property management, contact us today!

Disclaimer: This content isn’t a substitute for expert advice from a qualified attorney. Also, laws change, and this information may not be updated at the time you read it. For expert advice in this regard or any aspect of property management, KeyRenter South Florida can help.