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A Guide to the Eviction Process in Florida

Eviction Florida

Renting out your South Florida property can be a fantastic way to earn passive income and build wealth. But what happens when a tenant doesn’t pay rent or violates the lease agreement? Evicting a tenant in Florida can feel overwhelming, leaving you with questions and frustration. We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you navigate tenant evictions in the Sunshine State, so you can get back to enjoying your investment.

Basic Overview Of the Eviction Process In Florida

Under Florida landlord-tenant laws, you have a right to evict your tenant. There could be a number of reasons for eviction, including failure by the tenant to meet their rent obligation and excessive property damage.

What Steps Are Involved In The Eviction Process?

Florida, just like other states, has an elaborate and detailed eviction process that a property manager can assist you with. You must follow this process for the eviction to be successful. Otherwise, the eviction will fail, and you may even find yourself fighting a lawsuit.

Do I Need A Lawyer To Evict A Tenant?

While not always necessary, a lawyer specializing in landlord-tenant law can be invaluable in navigating the complexities of the eviction process and protecting your rights.

Here are the basics on everything you need to know about the Florida eviction process and the related Florida landlord-tenant law.

1. Understanding Grounds For Tenant Eviction

Do you have a legally justifiable reason to evict your Florida tenant? In order to evict a tenant, you must have a legitimate reason to begin the eviction process. You can’t simply evict your tenant because you no longer like them.

What Are The Grounds For Eviction In Florida?

Here are some examples of legally justifiable reasons:

  • Nonpayment Of Rent Or To Pay Rent Late Often
  • Excessive Rental Property Damage
  • Carrying Out Unauthorized Alternations
  • Violating The Terms Of The Written Lease Agreement

Eviction Process

How To Ensure Successful Eviction Complaints

To make the eviction complaint successful, there are two things you need to keep in mind.

First, you must ensure that you aren’t violating the lease or rental agreement yourself to make sure the eviction process begins. That’s because the tenant can use that as a defense to fight off or delay their eviction.

So, before filing the eviction lawsuit against your tenant, make sure the tenant has nothing they can use against you.

Florida Tenants Rights

Florida tenants have their own rights once they sign the lease or rental agreement. One of these rights is the right to live in a habitable rental unit. If you fail to provide one, your tenant has the right to withhold rent. In such a case, you cannot try to evict the tenant for failure to pay rent, as you necessitated that.

Notice To Quit – Providing The Tenant With A Written Notice

Second, for a successful eviction, ensure you send the tenant a warning letter. Let the tenant know what they have done to necessitate their removal. Use certified mail for purposes of evidence.

The type of notice depends on the reason for eviction:

  • 3-Day Notice: For non-payment of rent.
  • 7-Day Notice: For lease violations other than non-payment.
  • 15-Day Notice: For month-to-month tenancies.

2. Eviction Notice – The Importance Of Proper Notice In Florida Evictions

Did the tenant fix their month-to-month lease violation after you sent them the written notice? If not, you can go ahead and serve them proper notice. Various eviction types exist depending on the violation committed.

  • For Non-Payment Of Rent – you must serve the tenant a 3-Day Notice. The written notice tells the tenant that they have 3 days to either pay the rent due or move out. If the tenant fails in this obligation, they will be faced with an eviction lawsuit. If the tenant doesn’t pay the rent due or moves out, you can continue with the eviction process.
  • For Lease Violations – such as having unauthorized pets or operating an unauthorized business, you must serve the tenant with a 7-Day Notice. This written notice gives the tenant an option to either fix the violation or move out. If they don’t take either option, you can move to court to file for their eviction.
  • For Holdover Tenants – the eviction type depends on the length of the lease. For monthly agreements, you must serve a 15-day Notice to Quit. For weekly agreements, you must serve them with a 7-Day Notice to Quit. And for annual leases, you must serve the tenant notice with a 60-Day Notice to Quit.

3. Summons & Complaint – Filing An Eviction Complaint In Florida Courts

If the tenant doesn’t move out or fix the violation, you can move to court and file a Florida eviction lawsuit with a court clerk. Once you file it, the court can take up to 3 days to serve it to the tenant as a court date. In most counties, the filing fees are about $185.

Next, the Summons and Complaint will be issued to a process server to serve the tenant.

Evict A Tenant

The tenant will then be required to provide the court with an answer within 5 days. If they don’t provide one, the court will probably rule in your favor. However, if they do, then the process may take several weeks to conclude.

In their response, the tenant may fight the Florida eviction by putting up defenses.

Here are some common tenant eviction defenses that work under Florida law if a tenant contests the eviction:

  • You used self-help means to evict the tenant: Under Florida law, examples of self-help methods to evict a tenant include locking their doors or shutting off their utilities. Such actions are illegal.
  • The Florida eviction notice you served them had errors: When creating and delivering Florida eviction notices to tenants, you must follow very specific guidelines to legally evict the tenant. For example, it must clearly state the violation committed and state when the tenant must move out. If it doesn’t state either, the notice will be considered defective. That said, this will only serve to delay the process since you have the option to fix the errors.
  • You had no legal justification to evict the tenant: Your tenant may have several defenses to challenge their Florida eviction for nonpayment of rent. One such defense is your failure to maintain the rental unit to standards. As a Florida landlord, you have a responsibility to comply with all Florida safety and health codes. If you fail to do so, then your tenant may have multiple options to pursue, including stopping further rent payments (Stat. Ann. § 83.64)
  • You are discriminating against your tenant: Both the Florida Fair Housing Act and the Federal Fair Housing Act make it illegal for landlords to evict a tenant or discriminate against their tenants based on their gender, religion, race, color, familial status, disability, and national origin.

If a tenant does not show up for the court hearing, they may issue a default judgment in your favor.

4. Writ Of Restitution

The Writ of Restitution is the tenant’s final notice to leave. It gives them an opportunity to remove their possessions before they can be evicted by the sheriff, as per Florida eviction laws.

Usually, the tenant has a maximum of 24 hours to leave before the eviction can begin.

How Long Does The Eviction Process Take?

An uncontested eviction can take as little as a few weeks, while a contested case can take much longer.

Eviction Process In Florida

Taking the Hassle Out Of Florida Tenant Evictions

As a Florida landlord, you are allowed to evict your tenant if you have a legally justified reason. However, you must follow a specific process to ensure it is successful and to avoid lawsuits.

Evicting a tenant can be stressful and time-consuming. As your local property management company, we take the weight off your shoulders. Our experienced team handles every aspect of the eviction process, from serving notices to court appearances, ensuring it’s done efficiently and according to Florida law.

  • Streamlined Eviction Process: We handle all the paperwork, court filings, and communication, saving you valuable time and effort.
  • Legal Expertise: We partner with experienced eviction attorneys to ensure your case is handled correctly.
  • Reduced Stress: Focus on what matters – we handle the eviction, freeing you from the burden.
  • Peace Of Mind: Relax, knowing your investment is in good hands.

Don’t Let Tenant Troubles Disrupt Your Rental Income

If you’re a property owner or investor in Fort Lauderdale, Davie, or the greater South Florida area, let Florida Property Management & Sales be your trusted partner. Contact us today to discuss a personalized property management plan that includes expert tenant screening, comprehensive lease agreements, and efficient eviction services, so you can enjoy the rewards of your investment with peace of mind.

We hope this post was helpful and informative! If you still have further questions, contact Florida Property Management & Sales today to schedule your property management consultation.

Disclaimer: This blog is only intended to be informational. Laws keep changing and the blog may not be up-to-date at the time you read it. If you have questions or want to suggest some edits, kindly get in touch with the property managers at Florida Property Management & Sales. We’re a trusted property management company serving Broward County and the surrounding areas.