Eviction Process in Florida

What is the Eviction Process in Florida?

The eviction process in Florida outlines a series of steps and legal procedures a landlord must take in order to legally remove a tenant. While some distressed homeowners may be worried they can be evicted immediately for nonpayment of rent, the entire process generally takes at least three weeks. Florida renters and landlords may both mutually benefit from gaining a clear understanding of how the eviction process in Florida works.

Eviction Process in Florida – Step 1: Written Notice

Generally, the first step in the eviction process in Florida is a written notice delivered from the landlord to the tenant. The eviction notice usually outlines the cause for eviction and the amount of time the tenant has to take action before eviction.

Common causes for eviction in Florida can include:

    • Nonpayment of rent

For nonpayment of rent, tenants generally have 3 days to pay the entire past due rent in full or vacate.

    • Eviction for cause

For eviction for cause, tenants generally have 7 days to correct any violations of the lease agreement or vacate.

    • Termination of rental agreement

In the case that there is not a written rental agreement, or the lease is not designated for any specific length of time, a landlord may choose to end the lease without reason. This can occur when a landlord provides written notice of the termination of rental agreement. If the rent is paid monthly, tenants are generally provided with 15 days of notice before the rent is due. If the rent is paid weekly, the notice of the termination is typically given at least 7 days before the rent is due.

Eviction Process in Florida – Step 2: Summons and Complaint

Typically, the next step of the eviction process in Florida takes place after a tenant does not pay the outstanding rent, fix the violation(s) of the lease agreement, and/or fails to leave after termination of the lease.

When these issues are not addressed by the tenant, the landlord may choose to file a complaint with the Clerk of the Court. A complaint and summons are then usually served upon the tenant by a certified process server or county sheriff. If the attempts to serve the tenant fail twice, the papers may be posted on the tenant’s door.

Once the complaint and summons have been served or posted, the tenant generally has 5 days to respond to the complaint. The 5 days does not include weekends and holidays and begins on the date after the tenant was served.

Tenants who are served with a summons and complaint from their landlord should consider contacting an attorney immediately to explore eviction delay and/or avoidance options. Waiting until the last minute may severely limit a tenant’s available options.

Eviction Process in Florida – Step 3: Court Hearing

Once the tenant responds to the summons and complaint by either depositing the outstanding rent with the court or filing a motion to determine the rent, the next step in the eviction process in Florida is typically a court hearing. The court hearing may be scheduled by the tenant or landlord, but if neither party schedules a hearing then the judge may set the date.

At the hearing, each party should have an opportunity to present their case. In the case that the landlord wins, a judgment for possession will likely be ordered. Landlords win automatically if tenants do not attend the hearing.

Eviction Process in Florida – Step 4: Eviction

After a court hearing, the next step in the eviction process in Florida is typically eviction if the landlord wins. The court generally issues a writ of possession to the sheriff after a judgment for possession has been obtained.

Once the sheriff posts the writ on the tenant’s property, the tenant then typically has 24 hours to vacate. The landlord or sheriff may forcibly evict the tenant and padlock the door with or without the tenant’s belongings inside. This usually marks the end to the eviction process in Florida.