Many states have their own set of rules and regulations when it comes to eviction, and Florida is no different! While needing to evict a tenant is never an ideal situation for a landlord, sometimes it is necessary. That’s why we, as a property manager, have provided a guide to help you navigate the Florida eviction laws.
In Florida, all evictions must follow the same process. The steps in the Florida eviction process are:
- Landlord provides a written notice
- The landlord files an eviction complaint with the court
- Court serves the tenant with Summons and Complaint
- Court holds the hearing for the eviction and issues a judgment
- Local sheriff provides tenant with Writ of Possession
- Sheriff returns possession of the property to the landlord
Typically, an eviction in Florida can take about 2 to 3 weeks, depending on the reason and if the tenant contests the eviction. You cannot perform a constructive eviction, even if the tenant does not pay rent.
Reasons for Eviction
Due to the laws in Florida, a landlord cannot evict a tenant without cause. Legal reasons to evict a tenant include failure to pay rent, staying on the property after the lease ends, violating the terms of the lease agreement, or not upholding tenant responsibilities under Florida law.
Regardless of the reason, proper notice must always be provided to the tenant if they are to be evicted. You also have to let them know if you’re deducting from their security deposit.
Eviction for Non-payment of Rent
In Florida, a landlord is allowed to evict a tenant for failure to pay their rent on time. First, they must provide a notice of 3 days that states the tenant must either continue paying rent or leave the leased premises. If neither action is taken, then the landlord can file a Florida eviction suit.
Rent is considered late in Florida the day after it is due. There is no legal grace period for tenants or exceptions for holidays and weekends. Once rent is considered late, the landlord may begin the eviction process in Florida.
Eviction for End of Lease or No Lease
Florida landlords can evict a tenant when the lease has ended or if there is no lease. This is known as a “holdover tenant” or “tenant at will”. To evict the tenant, the landlord must provide notice for them to move out, which is 15 days for a month-to-month lease.
Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant stays on the property, then the landlord may proceed with the eviction procedure.
Eviction for Violating the Lease Terms
A landlord in Florida can legally evict their tenant if the tenant violated the terms of the lease or fails to uphold their responsibilities as stated by Florida Landlord Tenant Law.
Some, but not all, violations give the tenant the option to repair the issue to avoid eviction. Regardless of the problem, landlords must provide 7 days' notice before proceeding with the Florida eviction process. A lease violation allows for a legal eviction.
For some minor violations, tenants may avoid eviction by fixing the problem before the 7 days’ notice is up. Examples can be parking in an unauthorized area, having an unauthorized pet or vehicle, or not maintaining a standard level of cleanliness within the home.
However, if the tenant repeats the offence within 12 months of the first Florida eviction notice, the landlord is not required to provide the tenant with a chance to fix the issue before starting the eviction procedure.
For larger or repeated violations, the tenant is not given the option to avoid eviction by fixing the issue. In these cases, the tenant must leave the property within the 7 days’ notice period, or the landlord may continue the eviction procedure. Examples of larger violations can include excessive damage or abuse of the property or illegal activity.
Steps of the Eviction Process in Florida
Step 1: Providing Written Notice
In Florida, the eviction process begins with the landlord providing written notice. This can be delivered in person, via mail, or by leaving the notice in a clearly visible place (ex. Front door). It is crucial that the landlord keeps a signed copy of this notice for proof.
Step 2: Filing the Florida Eviction Lawsuit
If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period, the landlord may then file an eviction lawsuit in the court of the proper county. This can be done conveniently by using Florida Courts’ e-filing portal.
This complaint should include the landlord and tenants’ names, the address of the rental property, the reason for eviction, and when any Florida eviction notices was provided.
After being notarized, it's sent to a process server or the county sheriff, who will then serve each tenant.
Step 3: Summons and Complaint are Served
Once the tenant has been served with the summons and complaint, they have the option to contest the complaint. This response must be in writing and filed within 5 days.
A tenant contesting the complaint may make the eviction process take longer. If the tenant has a valid reason why the landlord should not evict them (ex, false accusations from the landlord, or the tenant resolving a curable issue), then the court may dismiss the eviction lawsuit if they find the claim to be true.
If the tenant does not contest the claims, then the eviction will continue with the following steps.
Step 4: Court Hearing and Judgment
This step is when the landlord moves forward to obtain a Judgment for Possession.
Both the landlord and the tenant must bring a copy of the lease or rental agreement, the written eviction notice, the complaint, and any evidence to help prove their eviction case to the hearing. If the tenant fails to show up to the hearing, the judge will rule in favor of the landlord.
Step 5: Writ of Possession is Posted
If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, a writ of possession will then be issued. This is a court order served by a sheriff that gives the tenant 24 hours to vacate the property before being forcibly removed.
Step 6: Property is Returned
This is when the sheriff returns the rental unit to the landlord by placing a padlock on the unit’s door. If the tenant remains on the rental unit, they may be forcibly removed.
If you’re going to invest in real estate, you should know the Florida law regarding things like the eviction process under Florida’s landlord-tenant law. However, navigating the laws and any changes to them can be confusing and tiring. To ensure you’re always up to date on the current laws, get in touch with a property management company like Ocean Blue Property Management.
At Ocean Blue Property Management, we’re dedicated to working with property owners not just to navigate the law, but to make sure their rental property is as profitable as possible. Call us today and find out how we can help you make the most out of your investment.
Disclaimer: This content isn’t meant to be a substitute for professional legal advice from a qualified attorney. If you have a specific question regarding the landlord-tenant law in Florida, Ocean Blue Property Management and our property managers can help.