Florida law gives landlords the right to evict a tenant so long as they have legitimate reasons. As a landlord, you must strictly follow the state’s eviction process in order to avoid legal complications.
Just like in the rest of the country, you must obtain a court order, otherwise known as a Writ of Possession, for the eviction to be successful. Trying to evict a tenant in any other way will not only fail, but may be considered as a self help eviction, which is illegal in Florida
That’s why it’s important for landlords to familiarize themselves with the state’s eviction process. If you are contemplating evicting your Florida tenant or simply want to familiarize yourself with the process, here is everything you need to know.
The Florida Eviction Process
To begin the process, you must first have a legal ground. Examples of a legal reason to begin the process of eviction through breaking a lease include failure to pay rent, failure to move after the expiry of the lease, and lease violations.
After you have a legal reason to evict the tenant, you must serve them with a proper eviction notice. Among other things, the notice must state the reason for the eviction, as well as the notice period.
Your next course of action will then depend on how the tenant responds to the notice. If the tenant complies and rectifies the issue, then no further action will be necessary on your part.
However, if the tenant fails to comply or cannot rectify the situation, then you may choose to continue with the eviction process. This would mean moving to court, potentially hiring legal counsel, and filing an eviction lawsuit.
After a successful filing process, the court will issue a summons and complaint which will need to be served to the tenant. After the tenants have a chance to respond, a hearing will be held and the judge will make a ruling.
If the decision is made in your favor, the tenant will legally have to leave the rental property or be removed by an officer of the law.
With that in mind, here is the step-by-step process.
Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause
Landlords in Florida require a legitimate reason to evict a tenant. The reasons are as follows.
- Failure by the tenant to pay rent
- Failure by the tenant to move out after the expiry of their lease
- Absence of a lease
- Lease violation
- Damage exceeding normal wear and tear
You must use an appropriate eviction notice in each of these situations.
If evicting a tenant for failing to pay rent, you must serve them a 3-Day Notice to Quit. This will give the tenant a maximum of 3 days to pay all the due rent or move out.
If evicting a tenant who has no lease or is on a month-to-month lease, you must provide them a 15-Day Notice to Vacate. This will give them a maximum of 15 calendar days to leave.
If evicting a tenant for a lease violation, you must serve them a 7-Day Notice to Comply or Vacate. This will give the tenant a maximum of 7 days to fix the issue or move out. Examples of lease violations where this notice may apply include:
- Illegal subletting of the unit
- Failure to maintain the unit to the required cleanliness or sanitary standards
- Refusal to allow landlord entry to the unit
In situations where the tenant repeats a violation within a year or commits substantial property damage, or contests your right to use the security deposit to repair the damages, you must serve them a 7-Day Notice to Vacate. This will give the tenant 7 days to move out. They will have no opportunity to remedy the violation.
Serving a Tenant with an Eviction Notice in Florida
As a landlord, state law prescribes the method you must use when serving a tenant with an eviction notice. You must employ any of the following methods.
- Hand the notice directly to the tenant.
- Leave a copy with a person who is of a suitable age AND mail another by certified or registered mail with a return receipt.
- Post a copy on the front door or any other conspicuous area AND mail another by certified or registered mail with a return receipt.
Eviction Defenses in Florida
A Florida tenant facing an eviction has a right to respond to the notice. If they choose to exercise this right, they must file their response in writing and do so within 5 days of receiving a copy of summons and complaint.
That’s why it’s important for a landlord to follow the law, do proper research, and come prepared to their court date.
As such, make sure that all your bases are covered by ensuring that:
- The eviction process is not in retaliation against the tenant
- The eviction process isn’t in violation of the Landlord-Tenant Laws
- You did not violate any term of the lease
- The process is devoid of a self-help eviction
- You maintained the property as per local, state, and federal laws
- The eviction notice is devoid of any errors
Attending Court Hearing
The court will then schedule a hearing. Take this time to prepare sufficiently for the appointment. Carry a copy of the lease agreement, eviction notice, summons and complaint, and any other evidence.
If the ruling is in your favor, the court will subsequently issue you with a Writ of Possession. This will give the tenant a maximum of 24 hours to leave. If they refuse to, the sheriff may have no other option but to forcefully eject them from the rental property.
This is the step-by-step process that every landlord undertaking an eviction in Florida must follow. Any other method can become legally complicated or expose you to difficulties.
If you have a question or need expert help in the management of your property, look no further than Central Florida Property Management. We’re the fastest-growing property management company in Orlando, FL. Get in touch to learn more about our property management services!
Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in this blog is intended for general guidance and should not be considered as a replacement for professional legal advice. It is important to be aware that laws pertaining to property management may change, rendering this information outdated by the time you read it.