As a property owner in Florida, you need to be familiar with the eviction process as well as the landlord-tenant laws. It’s almost inevitable that you’ll encounter a problem revolving around these topics at some point in owning a rental property. Knowing the right procedure protects you from paying hefty penalties. It also brings the eviction process to a speedy conclusion.
Every state has its own eviction procedures and the following article outlines Florida’s eviction process.
Reasons for Evicting a Tenant
In Florida, tenants can be evicted on the basis of failing to pay the rent, violating the lease agreement, and/or engaging in illegal activity on the property. Additional reasons could also include perpetual late rent payments or if the owner decides to sell their property.
There are different procedures to follow and notice periods for each case. It’s important for you to identify your reason for evicting the tenant to efficiently carry out the process.
Actions a Landlord Must Avoid
As a landlord, you might be tempted to try and evict them immediately. It’s crucial that you adhere to the proper eviction procedures to avoid being sued. Under Florida state laws, there are several actions you must refrain from taking. These include:
- Evicting a tenant based on their race, gender, familial status, disability, religion, and/or national origin.
- Evicting a tenant due to the fact that you disliked them even if they had signed a lease agreement.
- Turning off the utilities to get the tenant to vacate your property.
- Changing the locks so the tenant can’t enter the property.
- Forcibly removing the tenant and their belongings.
- Blackmailing or threatening the tenant.
Always refer to the correct procedure to make the eviction process quick and legal. Remember that until the eviction suit has been filed and approved, the tenant has the right to remain in the property.
Florida Eviction Process Timeline
Ideally, the tenant will be cooperative and move out once they get a Notice for Termination from you. Realistically, however, an eviction process in Florida can last three to four weeks. In complicated cases, it may take one to two months. This is usually in the case that the tenant has chosen to defend themselves and fight the eviction.
There’s no exact timeline for how long an eviction process will actually take.
Step-by-Step Process of How to Evict Someone
To make things easier for you as a landlord, this list will be a good reference for what to do when conducting an eviction. It’s also advisable to look up new state and local laws since they’re subject to change at any point in time.
Step 1: Carefully analyze the reason for eviction.
It can be a straightforward reason such as lack of rent payment or it could be a combination of several reasons. Assess if the tenant’s actions were intentional when it comes to property damage. Gather appropriate evidence and ensure you have your facts straight before rushing to evict a tenant.
Step 2: Send/deliver a notice of eviction to the tenant.
There are various kinds of eviction notices depending on a tenant’s situation. Choose among the following that’s appropriate for your case:
- 3-Day Notice for Failure to Pay the Rent. If the tenant pays within the prescribed period of 3 days, the eviction is canceled.
- 7-Day Notice to Cure for Violation of the Lease Agreement. If the tenant has fixed the violation within the prescribed period of 7 days, the eviction is canceled.
- 15-Day prior Notice when it comes to terminating a month-to-month tenancy.
- 30-Day Notice for a verbal month-to-month agreement. If the lease did not mention a leasing duration, then this applies. This law is specific to Miami city laws.
It’s advisable to send this notice through certified mail and to retain a copy of it. Otherwise, you can also opt to hand-deliver the notice to ensure that the tenant receives it and cannot claim otherwise.
Step 3: Remain patient during the waiting period.
The notice serves to provide a number of days for a tenant to pay their rent or rectify the violation they committed to the lease agreement. Patiently wait for the tenant to either act or not act. During this time, you can gather proof in case the issue ends up in a court of law.
Step 4: File for the eviction of the tenant.
If the tenant refuses to take action during the prescribed period of the delivered notice, you can file for an eviction. After filing, the lawsuit will begin.
The court will proceed with the appropriate steps by sending the complaint and summons. The tenant will be given 5 days to respond to it.
The landlord may be required to present their case in front of a judge. The court will then decide if a hearing is required for a resolution of the case.
Step 5: Be present on the hearing court date.
Gather all your proof including receipts, photos, and videos. These will help you strengthen your presentation in court. Wait for the judge’s decision.
If you win the case, the court will instruct a sheriff to remove the tenant from your property. A Judgment of Possession will be granted allowing you to take control over your property once again.
Step 6: Evicting a tenant.
The sheriff will give the tenant a Writ of Possession, instructing the tenant to vacate the property within 24 hours. If the tenant refuses to do so, the sheriff can forcibly remove them. The landlord is permitted to change the locks at this time.
The Bottom Line: Eviction in Florida
The eviction process may look overwhelming and tedious, but it is necessary when the situation calls for it. As a landlord, always be mindful of your legal rights and refer to Florida laws regarding the eviction process. As long as you follow the procedure correctly then there’s nothing to worry about.
Should you wish to look for help throughout the process, consider hiring an appropriate lawyer. You can also choose to hire a property management company, such as RentSmart USA. These companies have extensive knowledge of the laws regarding eviction processes and can help you accordingly.