How long does the eviction process take in Florida?

by John Morey | Jun 03, 2015

How long the eviction process can take from start to finish depends on several variables. While an uncontested eviction can sometimes be completed in just around a couple weeks, a contested eviction may last as long as a few months. Below are some of the steps necessary to file an eviction in Florida, and some of the general timeframes associated with each step.

1. Provide tenant with notice of non-payment, non-compliance, termination of tenancy, etc.

3 days minimum. Florida requires that before filing a lawsuit for eviction, the landlord or property owner must provide the tenant with notice. Typically, the reason for the notice dictates how much time you must give the tenant to correct the situation or vacate the property before filing for eviction. Some notices can provide as little as 3 business days for the tenant to pay rent or vacate, while other notices may require 15 days or more before the landlord can file for eviction.

2. File the eviction in the Court of the county within which the property is located.

2-3 days minimum. If your tenant fails to vacate the property after having provided them with proper notice, the next step is to file an eviction lawsuit. Although the time necessary to draft the eviction paperwork often depends on the situation, once it is complete it must be filed with the Court. Once your eviction attorney files the lawsuit with the court, the clerk of the court must issue a summons for each of the defendants. Most counties strive to issue the summons to the attorney within 2-3 days of the date that the lawsuit is filed.

3. Get the tenants served with the eviction paperwork.

1-3 days minimum. Once the clerk of court has issued the summons, the next step is to serve the tenants with the eviction paperwork. Depending on the county, the eviction paperwork will be provided to the tenants by a process server or county sheriff. If the person serving the paperwork is able to make direct contact with the tenant, they will personally serve the tenant with the lawsuit. If after 2 tries the process server or sheriff is unable to make direct contact with the tenant, they will “post” the documents in a conspicuous place on the property. The day that the paperwork is served on the tenant or posted to the property begins one of the most critical periods in the eviction process.

4. Tenant must respond to the eviction lawsuit within 5 days of the date of service/posting.

5 days, not including weekends or holidays. Once the tenant is served with the paperwork they will have 5 days, not including weekends or holidays, to file their response to the eviction with the court. Depending on the reason for the eviction, the tenant may also be required to deposit rent into the court registry. This portion of the eviction process will likely set the pace for how quickly the case can be resolved. If the eviction is uncontested, meaning the tenants fail to respond to the complaint within the required time, the case typically progress very quickly. If the eviction becomes contested, meaning the tenants respond within the time required, the eviction can take longer and may even require a trial.

5a. What happens if the tenant does not respond to the eviction within 5 days?

2 days minimum. If the tenant fails to respond to the eviction within the allotted 5 day period, the eviction is considered to be uncontested. At this point, your eviction lawyer can move forward with trying to obtain a default, final judgment, and ultimately a writ of possession, if necessary. Much of how quickly you can get the tenant removed from the property will depend on your lawyer’s availability and the judge’s availability. This stage is completed once the Judge issues a Final Judgment.

5b. What happens if the tenant responds to the eviction within 5 days?

2 days – several weeks. If the tenant files a response to the eviction paperwork, the eviction is considered contested. If the eviction involves non-payment of rent, the tenant will also be required to deposit rent into the court registry or must file specific paperwork requesting that the judge determine the amount of rent to be deposited. Additionally, sometimes upon review of the tenant’s response to Judge will order that the parties appear at a hearing or attend mediation. Many different variables can come into play once the eviction becomes contested; these variables are often what determine how long the case will take to reach an ultimate resolution. This stage is completed once the Judge issues a Final Judgment.

6. Have the Sheriff serve the tenant with a writ of possession (24-hour notice to vacate).

2 days minimum. Once the Judge entered a final judgment for eviction, the clerk must issue a writ of possession. The writ of possession is provided to the sheriff’s office and, depending on their availability, is usually served within a couple days of when it is provided to them. The writ of possession provides the tenants with 24 hours to collect their belongings and vacate the property. Once the 24-hour time period has expired, the sheriff will return to the property and put the landlord or property owner back in possession. The landlord is permitted to change the locks at this point. 

At the Morey Law Firm, we can help. We have experience in successfully representing landlords and property owners throughout Florida with their residential eviction needs, and assisting Florida landlords in accomplishing their objectives of collecting past due rent and/or removing nonpaying tenants. The sooner you act to remove a defaulting tenant, the sooner a high quality paying tenant can re-occupy the space. Contact our office today via our website’s free case review option or by phone at (407) 426-7222(407) 426-7222