Are you a landlord looking for more information about the tenant eviction process in Florida?
As longstanding property managers in Tampa, we came up with a step-by-step guide on how to legally evict your tenant.
Quick Overview of the FL Eviction Process
For starters, a landlord can evict their renter for a number of reasons. The most frequent one being nonpayment of rent. Other common reasons include property damage, lease violation, and the expiration of the lease agreement.
When trying to evict your Tampa tenant, it is important that you follow the stipulations of the Florida landlord-tenant laws. Otherwise, not only can the process fail, but you may find yourself on the wrong side of the law.
The first step towards evicting a tenant is serving them with a written notice. Next, you will need to file an eviction lawsuit against them in a local district court should they fail to act on the notice.
In your efforts to evict your tenant, no matter the circumstance, never try to force the tenant out.
It is the duty of the sheriff to carry out an eviction, not yours. Using any self-help eviction may amount to landlord harassment.
7-Step Process on How to Evict a Tenant in Florida
Step #1: Legal Reason
You must first establish whether there are sufficient reasons to evict your tenant. In some cases, good communication is all that is needed to put a stop to an escalating situation.
If indeed there is sufficient ground to warrant an eviction, here are two things you should do to ensure the process is a success.
First and foremost, make sure that you are not violating any terms of the lease agreement. In order to do so you can ask yourself a few questions in this regard:
- Is your property up-to-code in regard to building, safety, health, and housing?
- Is your property habitable? Are the electrical and plumbing systems functioning as they should be?
- Have you maintained the common areas in a manner that guarantees your tenant a safe and sanitary environment?
- Are you following all the applicable eviction rules?
Second, send a warning letter to your tenant. Here, you want to remind them of their actions that violated the terms of the lease agreement.
Step 2: Eviction Complaint
If the tenant has not acted in response to the warning letter within the notice period, file an eviction complaint against them in court.
In most states, including Florida, eviction forms vary depending on the notice you are sending. Staying relevant is key, as you do not want to use the wrong notice. The following are some of the common eviction notices in Florida:
- A 3-day notice: If the eviction is non-payment of rent, use this length of notice. It gives the tenant 3 days to either pay due rent or move out. (Please check: Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.56(3).
- A 7-day notice to vacate: This notice gives the tenant an option to either ‘cure’ the violation or move out. Examples of non-compliance include operating an unauthorized business, not keeping the premises in a healthy condition, or having unauthorized persons or pets.
- A 15-day notice to vacate: You may serve this if you no longer want the tenant to continue living on the premises. You must serve it fifteen days before the date when the rent falls due. This only applies to month-to-month tenancies.
Step #3: Eviction Notice Florida
You can serve an eviction notice using one of three ways. One, you can do it personally, by leaving it with a tenant that has attained the legal age at the unit. Secondly, you can post it on the units’ door. Or thirdly, you can use certified mail.
The toll of the notice starts the moment you have delivered it. Weekends and holidays are the only exceptions of days that do not count.
Step #4: Service of Summons
Should the tenant fail to honor the terms of the notice, the next step would be to file and serve them the notice. You must produce a copy of the notice at the clerk’s office.
Once the clerk has notarized the complaint form, you will need a sheriff or a registered process server to avail it to the tenant. The tenant will then have five days to file an answer with the court.
If the tenant files an answer within 5 days, you will then need to contact the clerk to schedule a hearing date.
If, however, the tenant chooses not to answer, then you will win the case by default. In such a case, you will need to request a Final Judgement of Possession from the court.
Step #5: Florida Tenant Rights
In most cases, the tenant will use his or her rights to make a case for themselves. The judge will give each party adequate time to present their evidence. In their effort to thwart the case, the tenant may claim;
- You provided them a defective notice
- You used constructive eviction
- It was as a result of retaliation after the tenant exercised any of their rights
- It was as a result of discrimination based on the tenant’s protected characteristics
Be prepared and be knowledgeable of the rights of your tenants before appearing in court.
Step #6: Writ of Restitution
If the judge rules in your favor, you will then need to file for a Writ of Restitution.
This is essentially a document that authorizes the U.S. Marshals Service to schedule an eviction of the tenant. The document is valid for 30 days from the date of issuance.
Step #7: Florida Tenant Eviction
Once the writ is served, the tenant will have 24 hours to leave the premises.
The Bottom Line
If you have specific questions, hire the services of a qualified attorney. Alternatively, you can seek help from a knowledgeable property management company.
Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws frequently change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading.