How Long Does an Unlawful Detainer Take in Florida? Understand the Process

How long does an unlawful detainer lawsuit take in Florida?

1. Pre-suit notice requiring occupants to vacate property.

Estimated 3-5 days. The Florida law relating to unlawful entry and/or detainer does not specifically require that the property owner provide the occupant with notice to vacate prior to filing suit. This is a huge distinction between an eviction and an unlawful detainer, since Florida’s eviction laws require a notice before filing. However, our experience in this area shows that having to file the lawsuit can sometimes be avoided by just providing the occupant with a notice beforehand. The other advantage of providing the occupant with a notice to vacate, is to demonstrate to the Court that we have attempted to resolve the situation prior to having to file suit.

2. Filing lawsuit with the court and issuance of summonses by the clerk of court.

Estimated 2-5 business days. Once the time provided for in the pre-suit notice to vacate has expired, we are ready to file the unlawful detainer lawsuit with the court. Our unlawful detainer lawyers strive to have the lawsuit drafted and ready to file within 24-hours of the expiration of the notice. Once we send the lawsuit draft to you for review, and have received your approval, it will be electronically filed with the clerk of court. Once the unlawful detainer is filed, we must wait for the clerk of the court to issues summonses for each of the named defendants/occupants. The summonses is what provides the occupant with the instructions of what they will need to do once they are served with the lawsuit.

3. Serving the occupants with the unlawful detainer lawsuit.

Estimated 3-7 days. Once the clerk of the court has issued the summonses, the lawsuit goes out for service by a process server. A process server is a person who is licensed to serve legal documents in the state of Florida. The process server will first attempt to “personally” serve the occupants if they are at the property at the time of his first attempt. Personal service entails the process server actually hand delivering the lawsuit to an occupant at the property, who is over the age of 17 years old. If the process server is not able to make contact on the first attempt, he or she must then wait at least 6 hours before making a second attempt at service. If they are still not able to make contact with the occupant after the second attempt, the process server is then able to “post” the lawsuit to the property. Posting the lawsuit entails taping or affixing the actual lawsuit and summonses to a clearly visible part of the property; usually the front door. Once the occupants are served the timer starts running.

4. The response period following service of the lawsuit.

Estimated 5 business days. Once the occupants have been served with the lawsuit, whether by personal service or posting, they will have 5 days, not including weekends or holidays, to file their response with the court. This 5-day period can be the most important time during an eviction or an unlawful detainer lawsuit. This time is so important because it will usually determine whether the lawsuit will be uncontested or contested. Whether the occupant decides to fight the lawsuit or not can make a huge difference in the amount of time it will take to resolve the case and how much you may end up spending to bring the case to a resolution.

5. Finalizing the unlawful detainer.

Estimated 1-7 days. If the occupant does not respond to the lawsuit within the 5-day period, your unlawful detainer lawyer will apply to the clerk of the court for a default. Once the default is issued the attorney can proceed with having the Judge issue a Final Judgment granting you possession and having a writ of possession (24-hour notice) issued. The time it takes from the date the default is entered, until we can get a final judgment signed by a judge can vary from county to county. Additionally, once we get the final judgment signed, and have the writ of possession issued, it is then provided to the sheriff’s office. The sheriff’s office will then serve the occupant with the writ of possession and meet you at the property after 24-hours have passed.

Morey Law Firm, P.A.: Your Trusted Unlawful Eviction Attorneys

If you need help filing an unlawful detainer in Central Florida our attorneys at Morey Law Firm, P.A. are here to help. Our experienced Orlando eviction lawyers handle all matters related to landlord-tenant and taking back possession of property from other persons. We are centrally located in downtown Orlando, Florida are serve most of the central Florida area. Call our office at (407) 426-7222 to speak with an attorney today

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