If you are evicting your tenant for non-payment of rent, you need to give the tenant a 3-day written notice to pay the rent or vacate. When calculating this time, you DO NOT count the day of delivery, weekends, or holidays. You may post the notice on the door or hand it to the tenant. However, it is preferable to hand deliver the notice to the actual tenant or to a resident age sixteen (16) and older. The 3-day notice must seek only rent that is due. If the tenant does not comply with the notice, you would need to bring a copy of the 3-day notice to the Clerk of Court in the county where the real property is located, along with a copy of the lease, and file your eviction complaint with the court.
Possession of Property
If you are evicting your tenant for possession only, you will need to give the tenant a proper notice to vacate. If the tenancy does not have a specific term or has expired, you must do the following. If it is year-to-year, a 60-day written notice is required prior to the end of any annual period. If the tenancy is from quarter-to-quarter, a 30-day written notice is required prior to the end of any quarterly period. If the tenancy is week-to-week, you are required to give a 7-day written notice prior to the end of any weekly period. If the tenancy is month-to-month, you are required to give the tenant a 15-day written notice prior to the end of any monthly period. If the tenant does not comply with the notice, you would need to bring a copy of the notice to the Clerk of Court in the county where the real property is located, along with a copy of the lease (if applicable) and file your eviction with the court.
Process to Evict
Proper Notice must be given as described above. File your eviction complaint with the court. A copy of the lease should be attached to the complaint. If seeking possession only, attach the 7-day notice of noncompliance you served that shows what lease violations were broken by the tenant. No 7-day notice is required if you are seeking possession because the tenant is now a hold-over. If seeking rent owed, attach the 3-day notice served and a rental payment history, if you have one. Once the complaint and any exhibits are filed, the next step is to get the tenant served. You have the option of either using the sheriff or a private process server. If you choose to use a private process server, inform the clerk. Otherwise, the standard is to forward a copy of the summons and complaint to the sheriff along with the $40 service of process fee. Once a tenant is served, they have 5 business days to file an answer.
Process to Evict (Continued)
If rent was owed to you and plead in the complaint, the tenant is also required to deposit the rent owed and rent as it comes due during the pendency of the case. Failure to do this is grounds for a default by the court at the landlord's request. Although the tenant has 5 business days to file an answer as to possession, the tenant has 20 calendar days to file a response on the damages you are seeking. If, after 5 days of the tenant being served, the tenant fails to file an answer with the court, you should seek a default by the clerk. The clerk will issue the default. If you are representing yourself up to this point, some counties will provide you with a landlord/tenant packet and it will include the forms needed in the process. You will need to fill out a final judgment for possession and provide to the clerk with your default. The clerk generally prepares the writ of possession for you, but charges a small service fee.
Process to Evict (Continued)
If the tenant files an answer, the clerk will not be able to issue a default, even if the answer admits rent is owed to you or has some other language that would not normally keep them from being evicted. The motion for default must now be considered by the judge. If you are a business entity or an agent of the business entity, Florida law requires that you now seek an attorney to file an appearance and take over. When a tenant files an answer, the matter is now considered a contested eviction. The final step is to have the Writ of Possession executed. The fee is $90 and the sheriff serves this on the property. Tenants then have 24 hours to vacate.
Additional resources provided by the author
Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes for residential tenancies.
The Florida Bar Re Advisory Opinion--NONLAWYER PREPARATION OF AND REPRESENTATION OF LANDLORD IN UNCONTESTED RESIDENTIAL EVICTIONS (No. 79084) Supreme Court of Florida, Oct. 8, 1992 (605 So.2d 868).
The Florida Bar Re Advisory Opinion--NONLAWYER PREPARATION OF AND REPRESENTATION OF LANDLORD IN UNCONTESTED RESIDENTIAL EVICTIONS (No. 79084) Supreme Court of Florida, Dec. 2, 1993 (627 So.2d 485).