Micahel N. Bress, Esq.
EVICTION PROCESS IN FLORIDA
Updated: Oct 28, 2022
To evict a tenant in Florida, a landlord must follow the procedure governed by Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes. Failure to follow the proper procedure could, along with other outcomes, lead to an eviction suit being dismissed.
Common grounds to terminate a tenancy are when a tenant fails to pay rent, violates the rental agreement, or violates local, state, or federal law. Other grounds include the absence or expiration of a rental agreement. The following are the overarching steps required to evict a tenant in Florida.
(1) TENANT NOTICE
The first step in the eviction process in Florida is the landlord must give the tenant a termination notice that complies with the rules and procedures set forth in Chapter 83. The specific procedure will be dictated by the type of eviction (Residential, Commercial) and the landlord’s grounds for eviction.
The amount of notice required depends on the grounds for terminating the tenancy. Termination can be for cause (for non-payment or non-compliance) or without cause (when there’s no lease agreement or the agreement has expired).
(B) TERMINATION WITH CAUSE
FOR UNPAID RENT, the landlord must give the tenant a three-day notice to either pay their unpaid rent or vacate the unit. If the tenant pays the full amount within three days, minus weekends and holidays, the landlord must accept the payment.
FOR A VIOLATION OF THE RENTAL AGREEMENT, the landlord must give the tenant a seven-day notice to either fix the violation or vacate the unit. If the tenant fixes or cures the violation within seven days, the landlord must not pursue the eviction.
FOR NON-CURABLE AND REPEAT VIOLATIONS, a landlord must provide the tenant with a seven-day notice. Unconditional-quit notices are for non-curable violations such as a serious destruction of property, or, generally, a serious violation that has reoccurred within a twelve-month period. These notices do not give the tenant an opportunity to cure. The tenancy is terminated, and the tenant has seven days to vacate the property. If the tenant does not leave, the landlord can file a complaint for eviction.
(C) TERMINATION WITHOUT CAUSE
IF THERE IS NOT A WRITTEN LEASE OR A LEASE WITHOUT A SPECIFIED PERIOD OF TENANCY, the landlord can terminate the tenancy at will. In such cases, notice is not required. Not unless a local statute or a written lease of unspecified duration states otherwise. Notifying the tenant, however, is recommended as a courtesy and also it might help to avoid additional damage to the property.
FOR A WEEK-TO-WEEK LEASE, notice must be given seven days before rent is due. FOR A MONTH-TO-MONTH LEASE, notice must be given fifteen days before rent is due. Miami, however, has a special law that requires a thirty-day notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy without a specific duration.
FILE THE EVICTION COMPLAINT
If a tenant does not comply with a valid notice in which the landlord followed the statutory procedure, the next step in the eviction process is to file an eviction complaint in the county where the property is located. Once an eviction suit is filed, the Clerk of Court must issue a summons for each defendant, and then a professional process server or the Sheriff’s office must serve the tenant with both the summons and the complaint.
TENANT HAS FIVE DAYS TO RESPOND TO THE COMPLAINT
Once served, the tenant will have five days, excluding weekends and holidays, to answer the complaint. If the tenant answers, the tenant may offer defenses. If the tenant does not respond to the complaint, the action will usually be considered uncontested, and the landlord should file a motion for default judgment.
If the action is for unpaid rent, to contest the eviction, the tenant will usually have to first deposit the rent owed into the court registry. If the tenant disagrees with the amount the landlord has claimed is owed, the tenant may file a motion to determine rent, after which the court may schedule an evidentiary hearing to determine the amount owed.
A hearing can be scheduled by either the landlord or the tenant. Once scheduled, the other party must be served notice. If the case is contested, both the landlord and the tenant will be given an opportunity to testify and to provide evidence to the court. At the hearing, the court will decide whether the tenant should be evicted based on the pleadings, testimony, and other evidence.
REMOVAL OF THE TENANT
If the court finds in the landlord’s favor, the Clerk of Court shall issue a writ of possession commanding the Sheriff to put the landlord back into possession. Once the Sheriff has served the tenant with the writ, the tenant will have 24 hours, minus weekends and holidays, to vacate the property. If the tenant does not vacate, the Sheriff will return to force the tenant out of possession.
Often, the best solution to a problem is to avoid the problem in the first place. This is why a landlord needs to be diligent in selecting tenants and to draft rental agreements that reduce the potential for litigation. If a dispute does arise, however, an alternative to litigation is to try to resolve the dispute through negotiation or mediation.
Keep in mind, however, the foregoing is based on the typical scenario. Each case is fact specific and certain statutory rules can be modified by the parties in the rental agreement. If you are uncertain about your rights, remedies, how the particular facts of your case might apply, or have other doubts, such as how to prosecute your case, you might require the assistance of an attorney.
Last Updated: May 9, 2022.
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Michael N. Bress, Esq.
BRESS LAW FIRM, PLLC | Miami Law Firm. ESTATE PLANNING (WILLS, TRUSTS, & ESTATES), LANDLORD AND TENANT LAW, and BUSINESS LAW. We are located in Aventura, Florida, serving clients throughout all of Miami-Dade County.
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