What’s the difference between eviction and unlawful detainer in Florida?

by John Morey | Jun 03, 2015

In Florida there are three basic ways of removing a tenant from your property. The specifics of each situation determine which type of action must be taken against the occupants. By speaking with one of our experienced Orlando based attorneys we can help you decide whether you need to file an eviction, unlawful detainer, or ejectment. The focus of this article is to discuss the difference between and eviction and unlawful detainer.

One of the most critical issues in determining whether to file a lawsuit for eviction or for unlawful entry and detainer is the establishment of a landlord-tenant relationship. In Florida, in order to file an action for eviction the property owner or landlord usually establishes this relationship one of two ways; evidence of a lease agreement or payment of rent. When establishing the landlord-tenant relationship the landlord will often allege the existence of a written or verbal lease under which the tenant was obligated to pay rent. In the absence of a written lease, the landlord can establish the relationship between the parties by showing that the tenant paid rent to the landlord in one form or another. When a person has lived in a property without a lease agreement and without payment of rent, the proper way to remove that person is by filing for unlawful detainer, not for eviction.

The situation for filing an unlawful detainer usually arises where a friend or family member allows someone to stay with them rent-free for a short amount of time. When the occupant outstays their welcome and now refuses to leave, the owner of the property is forced to take legal action to have the occupant removed. Another situation where the need for an unlawful detainer comes into play is when a person purchases a property only to realize that there are people living in the property without anyone’s permission. These types of occupants are sometimes referred to as “squatters”. In both of the situations above, the property owner has no way of establishing the existence of a lease agreement or payment of rent, and as a result does not have the basis to file for an eviction to have the tenants removed. The proper type of action to remove these unwelcomed occupants is to file a lawsuit for unlawful detainer.

If you need help deciding whether you need to file for eviction, ejectment, or for unlawful detainer call one of our experienced unlawful detainer and landlord-tenant attorneys today for a free consultation. Our lawyers have filed unlawful detainer lawsuits throughout Florida and are centrally located in Orlando, Florida. Please submit a free case review through our website or contact our office at (407)426-7222(407)426-7222 to discuss the specifics of your case with one of our attorneys.