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What is the fastest way to evict a residential tenant? A 3-day notice for nonpayment or a Notice to Vacate?

Longwood, FL |

The lease was for 1 year and expired in January 2007. I have adjusted the rent and allowed her to pay bi-weekly, though she still cannot seem to pay. I need to know how to get the tenant out as I still have not received the rent for April.

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Attorney answers 3


3-day is much quicker. Of course, if she pays you cannot evict her for nonpayment.

The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of California. Responses are based solely on California law unless stated otherwise.


A word of warning - be extremely careful about how you go about evicting a residential tenant or your tenant may end up owning your property. You CANNOT evict a tenant except through a court action.

The three day notice is given only when the rent is overdue. The three day notice has to be in exactly the proper form as provided by statute. Anything short of the proper form is invalid. Additionally, if you collect any amount of rent during the three days and before your file your complaint for eviction, you have to issue a new three day notice.

Once the three days are over, you go to the clerk of the county court and you fill out a Complaint for Eviction and a 5 day Summons, attaching the 3 day notice to the complaint. You pay the clerk the filing fee which will be close to $200 and you pay a service fee for the sheriff of your county to physically serve the complaint and 5 day notice summons on the tenant. Once the sheriff gets around to serving the Complaint and Summons, you wait 5 days for the tenant's response. There is, by law, one and only one defense to a complaint for failure to pay the rent --- that is that the tenant has paid the rent and that your allegation that she hasn't is untrue.

Once the 5 days are up then you go back to the clerks office and you apply for a Default Final Judgement and a Writ of Possession (presuming there has been no answer or an answer other than payment).

Once you get the default judgment and the Writ of Possession, you take it back to the Sheriff who will serve it upon her together with a 24 hour notice to vacate. If your tenant hasn't vacated in 24 hours, then, and only then, and usually under the supervision of a sheriff's deputy, you may remove the tenant's possessions from the property and place them on the curb.

Some Florida sheriff's offices have different methods of evicting so you should check with your sheriff's office on their procedures.

In the meantime you are specifically prohibited by Florida law from using any other device to attempt to evict a residential tenant by force or constructively, like turning off the utilities or removing the front door, or changing the locks. Do that and you will end up paying the tenant.

How long does it all take? Depending on how swift your courts and sheriff's office is, and how quickly and efficiently you go through the above steps, an experienced lawyer and a diligent Sheriff's office could get it done in 3 to 4 weeks provide there are no complications.

Since you indicated that you were totally unaware of the law of eviction in Florida, I would seriously recommend that you get an attorney to handle at least your first eviction.

I have known of landlords who pay their tenant to leave rather than go through the above process and expense.

My comments are informational only and are not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. They are not confidential, and are not intended to constitute legal advice. Proper legal advice can only be given by an attorney who agrees to represent you, who reviews the facts of your specific case and who is licensed as an attorney in the state where the law applies.

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PS. Attorney Fink is a California lawyer and is unaware of Florida law of eviction.