The Residential Eviction Process in Florida: A Comprehensive Guide for Landlords
Being a landlord is no simple task. Among the various responsibilities you carry, sometimes you are faced with the difficult decision of evicting a tenant. The eviction process can be complex, and each state has its own set of laws and procedures to follow. For landlords in Florida, understanding the residential eviction process is crucial to ensure that you are taking the right steps and protecting your interests.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the eviction process in Florida step-by-step. It is important to note that the lease agreement between you and the tenant can alter many of the timeframes provided in this guide. It is important to make sure an experienced Florida eviction attorney reviews your lease before proceeding.
1. Grounds for Eviction
Before you initiate the eviction process, you must have legal grounds to do so. In Florida, the most common reasons include:
- Non-payment of rent (Typically 3-Day Notice)
- Violation of lease terms (Typically 7-Day Notice)
- Expiration of the lease term or Non-Renewal (Typically 30-Day Notice)
2. Provide Notice (Dependent on Notice Period*)
Once you’ve established the grounds for eviction, the next step is to provide the tenant with a written notice. This is one of the most important steps in the eviction process because this will serve part of the foundation for filing the eviction lawsuit, if necessary. The type of notice will depend on the reason for eviction:
- Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit: If the tenant has not paid rent, you must give them a three-day notice to pay the outstanding amount or vacate the property. The three-day notice does not include weekends or holidays into the payment deadline. The notice should specify the amount owed, payment deadline, payment address, and inform the tenant that they have three days to pay or move out. There are some special considerations to consider when drafting a three-day notice, such as:
- Is the payment to be made at a physical address?
- Are the property address and payment address located in the same county?
- Does the lease specify what items are considered “rent” and what items are not?
- Seven-Day Notice to Cure: If the tenant has violated the terms of the lease (other than non-payment of rent), you must give a seven-day notice to cure. This notice should specify the nature of the violation and inform the tenant that they have seven days to correct the issue or vacate the premises.
- Seven-Day Unconditional Quit Notice: In cases of repeated violations or serious misconduct (like destroying property or posing a threat to public safety), you can issue a seven-day unconditional quit notice. This demands the tenant vacate without an option to cure the violation.
- 30-Day Notice of Termination (Month-to-Month Tenancy): If the tenancy is month-to-month and you wish not to renew, you must give a 30-day notice before the end of any monthly period. While a landlord was previously only required to provide 15-days’ notice to terminate a month-to-month lease agreement, Florida Law now requires 30-days.
Ensure that the notice is delivered in person to the tenant or posted the residence if they are absent. As an added safety measure, our firm typically serves the Notice via process server.
3. Filing a Complaint with the Court (5-7 Days*)
If the tenant does not comply with the notice provided, the next step is to file an eviction lawsuit with the county court where the rental property is located. Once the initial notice has expired, our office will contact you to confirm whether the tenant complies, or if we must proceed with filing the eviction.
Once we receive your confirmation to proceed, we will:
- Draft all necessary documents to file the eviction (Complaint, Summons, etc.), then
- Send you the Complaint for review and approval, then
- Upload the eviction paperwork and pay any necessary county filing fees.
Once filed, we must wait until the Clerk of Courts processes the eviction and issues a summons to the tenant.
4. Serving the Summons (5-7 Days*)
The tenant must be properly served with the summons and the Complaint. This can be done through the Sheriff’s Office or by using the services of certified process server. It’s essential that proper service is achieved, as failure to do so could result in delays or dismissal of the case. Service is typically achieved one of two ways:
- The tenant is served in-person at the property, or
- If the tenant is absent from the property after 3 separate attempts, the eviction can then be posted to the property. Please note that when removing an unknown party, Florida law requires 3 separate attempts before posting– once during business hours, once during non-business hours, and once during a weekend.
5. Tenant’s Response
After being served, the tenant typically has five days (excluding weekends and legal holidays) to provide a written response to the court.
- Contested Evictions: (Dependent on Tenant Response*) If the tenant responds to the eviction or otherwise “contests” the eviction a hearing will be scheduled and both parties will present their case before a judge. Sometimes if the tenants file a response and request that the Court determine how much rent is owed, we will be required to attend both a rent determination hearing and a final hearing. For this reason, our representation agreement with you will typically indicate that additional fees are due in the event the eviction is contested.
- Uncontested Eviction: (7-14 Days*) If the tenant does not respond or fails to deposit the disputed rent into the court registry (in cases of unpaid rent), we will submit a “clerk’s default” for entry by the clerk of the court. Once the clerk of the court issues the clerk’s default, we will then file a motion to have the Judge enter a default judgment in your favor.
Whether contested or uncontested, our timeline is contingent upon the Court’s workload and schedule when submitting the clerk’s default, submitting the default final judgment, or coordinating a hearing date.
6. Writ of Possession (5-7 Days*)
Once you have the final judgment, if the tenant still does not vacate, you can request a “Writ of Possession” (24-hour notice). The writ must be submitted to the clerk of the court for entry, which is typically done on a first come first serve basis. Once the writ of possession is issued by the clerk’s office it will be provided to the sheriff. The writ authorizes the sheriff to physically remove the tenant and their belongings from the property. In Florida, once the writ is posted at the property, the tenant has 24 hours to leave before the sheriff returns to forcibly evict them.
* A Quick Note on Timeframes: The timeframes we provide are general estimates based on our experience and the typical processes we’ve observed. However, it’s essential to understand that actual timeframes can vary. Several factors can influence the duration of any given eviction, including the specific county, the responsiveness of the clerk, the judge assigned to your case, and the current workload or schedule of both the clerk, judge, and/or sheriff. We always strive to give you a clear picture, but in the ever-changing legal landscape, it’s always best to be prepared for some variability in timing. Your patience and understanding are appreciated.
Morey Law Firm, P.A.: Your Trusted Florida Eviction Attorneys
Evicting a tenant is a process no landlord wants to go through, but experienced team of Central Florida Eviction Attorneys are here to guide you through every step of the process. For comprehensive assistance with residential evictions for non-payment in Orlando and Central Florida, trust Morey Law Firm, P.A. to be your advocate. We invite landlords to submit an online case evaluation, ensuring we understand the intricacies of your situation. Alternatively, you can reach out to us directly by calling at 407-426-7222.