Evictions: How Much Time for Possession in Florida--the Hurricane "Cone of Doom".
Once the case is filed.....An eviction Complaint can be served either personally as with other law suits, or posted on the door of the premises. A post can be made only the 2nd time, after 6 hours have passed. See Section 48.183 Florida Statutes.
If Landlord uses the Sheriff to serve process, there will be a 1-2 delay from the case filing for the Sheriff to log in the process. A private process server can serve first and do paperwork later. Also, once the deputy has received the papers for the day, it will be the next day before he/she will obtain the next batch.
If the Landlord waits at the Counter for the Clerk to issue the Summons, the Landlord can then take to Sheriff's office or call the process server to pick up. A private process server can also attempt a same-day service, for more money, of course. Private process servers will serve on Saturdays and also after 7pm Mon-Sat.
Estimated time from the filing of the case to service: 1-3 days
Once the process is served....An eviction Summons allows a tenant 5 days to respond. The day process is served is not counted as part of the 5. Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays are not counted as part of the 5.
A tenant might file sooner but usually tenants wait for the 5th day to serve a response.
Although the 5 days is to serve a response, tenants should FILE it by the 5th day. Although Clerks wait for a mailed response, tenants should not take the chance that a Clerk won't. Tenants should take a copy of a response to the Clerk--the Clerk will take the original and date-stamp the copy and give it back to the tenant--this is proof it was done timely.
What kind of response? if there is a defense to eviction OTHER THAN that payment was made, a tenant must either: 1) pay the claimed unpaid rent to the Clerk's registry or 2) make a Motion to have the judge determine the amount to be paid to the registry.
Estimated time from service to the next step: 7-10 days
If a response is not made, skip to Section 5, but if made....Responses are sent with the Court file to the judge. If responses raising defenses other than payment without rent having been paid to the Clerk and no request made for the judge to decide the amount, the judge will enter a default and judgment for possession. If the response asserts payment, the judge will set a final hearing. If the response requests determination of the amount to paid to the Clerk, the judge will set a hearing just for that issue.
At the hearing a deadline will be set, typically noon or 5pm the next day. If payment is then not timely made, the Landlord will make a Motion for Default.
The judge may have kept the file in his/her office, but either way, it is a matter of 1-3 days for a default and judgment for possession to be entered. Skip to Section 5.
If payment is made, the judge will then set a final hearing on the Complaint for eviction, typically 7-10 calendar days..
If a hearing on the Complaint is set.....This is trial. The judge will probably render a decision the same day or the next. If the Court rules in favor of the tenant, then the "Cone" stops. If the Court rules that less $ was due, an Order will be entered which directs the Clerk to refund money from the Clerk's registry.
Estimated time for the Court to enter a judgment: 1-2 days
Once judgment is entered for possession to Landlord....The judgment goes to the Clerk's office. The Clerk issues a Writ of Possession. The judge does not do this. The Writ must be served by the sheriff's office, a private process server is not an option. The costs for service of the Writ and to evict total $90.00. In Palm Beach County, a Landlord can submit $90.00 to the Clerk before a judgment is entered to be held for when the Clerk receives the judgment from the judge. Another option is for the Landlord to provide an envelope for the original Writ to be mailed to the landlord, who can then take it with the $ to the Sheriff's office. The smarter choice for a Landlord is to prepay the $90.00.
Estimated time for Writ tor reach the sheriff: 1-3 days
Once the sheriff receives the Writ of Possession....The Writ must be processed and then provided to the Deputy who handles the geographic area where the property is located. The Deputy will deliver to the Tenant or post a 24-hour notice on the front door.
Actually, more than 24 hours is afforded a Tenant. If posted on a Thursday, the term ends midnight Friday, which translates to Monday, at which time the Deputy will contact Landlord or Landlord's representative to coordinate a day and time the Deputy will take over possession of the premises and turn it over to Landlord. If posted earlier in the week, a Friday eviction is possible, but it is my personal opinion even landlords are willing to allow a final weekend for the Tenant to vacate. It is more likely a Tenant will clean up and remove all of their possessions with a weekend.
Estimated time for Writ to be served: a week.
ConclusionAs you can see, many variables in the process affect the time for possession to return to Landlord. Consider also storms [real hurricanes] and holidays: Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year's,either as a result of the holiday spirit or the basic fact that the legal system is shut down 2 business days each week for T-giving and Xmas and possibly New Year's as well. Is it "legal"? No, but it is a fact of life.
Landlords may find it beneficial to offer to pay money to the Tenants! Yes! Offer to pay $X to a new landlord if the Tenant will vacate. The cost to file and serve several tenants in the premises and then serve the Writ may be more than $X, and have return of the premises sooner.
Tenants may want to move out sooner, so they do not have uncertainty of not knowing "when". You can not put a price on peace of mind.
As stated, each county may have a process which is different from that described.
I hope you found this helpful.