Last Updated on May 21, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team
This helpful guide will assist you if you’re looking for eviction information specifically for Florida. Eviction processes aren’t super difficult, but there are specific rules and regulations that relate to a particular state.
If you’re unsure on Florida state law with evictions, you might find yourself getting into a much costlier scenario.
So, rather than getting yourself into trouble and having a potentially hefty bill – let’s take a look through the ins and outs of eviction in Florida.
What Is An Eviction And When Does It Happen?
Eviction is when a landlord demands their tenant(s) must leave their premises. As the property owner, the landlord has the right to ask a tenant to vacate their premises for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons for eviction can include:
- Failure to pay rent
- Breaching the terms of the lease or rental agreement
- Breaking the law
- A regular failure to meet the rent payment date
- No agreement was ever in place
- Damaging or demolishing the property
Of course, these aren’t the only reasons that a landlord might evict a tenant(s) but they are the most common. A landlord should prepare themselves for these eventualities.
By being prepared for such situations, you will become accustomed to the procedures and should soon be able to deal with more complicated situations.
Things A Landlord Cannot Do
Prior to us diving deeper into what a landlord can do and is legally allowed to do when evicting a tenant, it is important that we understand what a landlord can’t do. Just because you own the place, doesn’t mean you can simply do what you want to do.
Landlords should never do the following things to either force a tenant(s) leave or just to be spiteful:
- You can’t switch off the utilities
- You can’t change the locks
- You can’t remove doors
- You can’t force a tenant to leave
- You can’t threaten the tenant
- You can’t blackmail the tenant
- You can’t remove property of the tenant
It’s understandable that a landlord may be frustrated with the situation, particularly if a landlord is down a few hundred (or thousand) bucks due to missed payments.
However, doing any of the above actions may result in legal action taken by the tenant – and may end up with the landlord paying fees, damages and sometimes, rent! It’s best to follow proper procedure and do everything by the books. So, what do you do?
How You Can Evict A Tenant
We’ve gone through the steps of what not to do, but now it’s important we establish exactly what a landlord can do. Some steps may seem confusing to begin with, but rest assured, the guide will help you to fully get to grips with a landlord’s rights when it comes to evictions.
Step One: Issue A Written Notice
Before you do anything else, you must first inform the tenant(s) of your intended act of eviction proceedings.
Although you may wish to call first or send an email informing them of what you may do, it’s always best to issue an official written notice, which can help you also if you need to take matters further (but we’ll come to that!)
Depending on why you’re planning to evict the tenant, the written notice will differ. Thus, let’s look at what the differences may be:
Failure To Pay Rent
If your reason for evicting the tenant is because they have failed to pay their rent as per your agreement, you must provide the tenant(s) with a three working day notice.
Within these three days, a tenant can either pay what they owe, arrange a new plan with you or leave the premises.
If the tenant does manage to pay the full amount of what they owe, the landlord must cease the proceedings of eviction.
If a tenant gives, or attempts to give, a lower amount than what is owed – it’s best the landlord refuses the offer of payment and continues with the process of eviction.
Breaking The Terms Of The Lease Or Rental Agreement
This is part of the reason why landlords and tenants sign rental agreements – to prevent any grey areas of each others’ rights.
There might have been something that you wrote into the rental agreement that was key to you allowing the tenants to stay in the property anyway, such as not having pets in the property, failing to adequately clean the property or parking where you specifically stated not to park.
As per the terms of this lease, if you’re hoping to evict a tenant due to one or many of the terms of the agreement being breached, you must provide the tenant seven working days to rectify the situation or leave the property.
You should list out in detail what terms of the agreement you believe they have breached with your notice of eviction.
If the tenant manages to solve the problem(s) that you have listed, you must cease your eviction process. However, if they do not – they must leave.
Additionally, if they breach the agreement again within a period of 12 months, you are not obliged to give the tenant a chance to rectify the problems. All you will need to do is issue the 7 day notice period of eviction.
There is an exception to the rectification rule – if a tenant seriously damages the property for example, you can simply issue the 7 day period of eviction notice.
There are other circumstances in which a tenant can be evicted but in most instances, a landlord must give between a 3 day and 7 day notice of planned eviction. Florida is one of the states that requires a relatively short notice period.
Step Two: Nonaction and Complaints
If within the 3-7 notice period, a tenant has not rectified the situation or leaves the property, the landlord is allowed to file for eviction proceedings.
The tenant has been given adequate opportunity to fix the problems, but failed to do so.
In order for the landlord to sue the tenant, they must meet with the Clerk of Court and pay a fee for paperwork to be filed (known as complaint) which will begin the legal process.
The court will then take care of issuing a summons to the tenant.
All parties will be given a copy of what is going on and all documentation is legally binding.
Step Three: Period For Response
After the summons has been issued and served, the tenant has a 5 working day period where they must respond.
Response can be done in a few ways:
- A response in writing outlining their defenses and why they believe the eviction is unjust. This is done in the same way to the Clerk of Court that the landlord did.
- A copy must be sent to the landlord from the tenant.
- The court may rule against the tenant in absence of their response.
- If applicable – the tenant must pay any arrears owed to the landlord.
- If the tenant disputes the amount of rent owed, they can file a motion that determines the amount they believe is correct and reasonable.
This can be quite a stressful time and situation, but you’re likely here due to a bad tenant – so you’ll need to go through this process.
Step Four: Court Process
If no such judgement has been made in the period of response, a court may set a date for a hearing to take place. All information will be sent to the landlord and tenant(s).
Parties should arrive with their evidence, including the copy of their tenancy agreement (lease agreement), photographic evidence of damage or misbehaviors, relevant receipts or invoices, witnesses (if applicable) and any other evidence you feel is relevant to the court.
This is a crucial stage in the process where you can prove to the court that the tenant must leave or pay what they owe, so ensure you’re well prepared.
If a tenant fails to show, a judgement is usually made against them in absence. Other than this, if you win – you will receive a judgement for possession.
Step Five: Evicting The Tenant
After receiving that all important judgement for possession, the tenant must leave the property. Having said that, you still cannot go into the property and physically remove them.
The court will send the judgement to the sheriff, who will then issue a notice to the tenant – who will then need to leave within 24 hours. After this period, the sheriff can forcibly remove the tenant(s) if they have not yet vacated the property.
There are some other situations that might apply to you:
No Written Agreement
The process might differ from county to county, so it’s worth checking. But, in most situations, no notice period is required – although it’s still better to give the tenant adequate notice for them to leave amicably.
Rolling 30 Day Agreement
15 day notice has to be given before monthly rent is due, whereas if it’s weekly – 7 days notice is required.
No End Date On The Agreement
The terms of the agreement must be followed for eviction, but if no terms are included – no prior notice is required for eviction.
It’s always best to fully prepare yourself for these sorts of eventualities, as a landlord will likely experience them at some point. Get yourself versed in the tools of the trade and all the rules and regulations, to ensure you’re kitted for any court and legal outcomes.
To avoid any problems, it’s best to vet your potential tenants and ensure you have the best possible people moving in that should not get into arrears or damage your property.
It’s also important that you follow the rules and do your part, so as not to give a tenant any reason to breach the agreement! Create a legally binding and fair rental agreement that both parties can be happy to sign.