Landlords have certain rights under Florida landlord-tenant laws. Among these is the right to evict a tenant for violating the lease agreement. Common lease violations in Florida include nonpayment of rent, and policy violations such as keeping an unauthorized pet.

To remove the tenant, you must first obtain a court order. You can expect the entire process to take anywhere between two and three weeks. The process can also take much more time depending on the reason and whether the eviction is contested.

Please note that all forms of “self-help” evictions are illegal. Examples include removing the tenant’s belongings, shutting off utilities, or changing the locks. Retaliatory evictions are also a no-no. Trying to evict a tenant for exercising their legally protected right will not only fail, but may also land you in legal trouble.

What’s the Eviction Process in Florida?

Evicting a difficult tenant in Florida is fairly straightforward. To begin the process, you must first have a legitimate reason. Such as, the tenant not paying rent or violating a term of the lease agreement.

Next, you must send the tenant an eviction notice. The eviction notice must be relevant to the violation committed. For example, to evict a tenant who pays late, you must send them a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, and the law on what to do with the security deposit varies.

If the tenant conforms to the notice and moves out on their own, great; no further action would be necessary from you. However, if they refuse to obey the eviction notice, then you may want to file a lawsuit.

two people packing up boxes inside house

Next, the court will issue the summons and complaint to the tenant. This will take at least 2 days after filing the lawsuit. Finally, the court will hold a hearing and issue a judgment. If the judgment is in your favor, you’ll be issued with a Writ of Possession and the eviction will proceed.

Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause

As already mentioned, as a landlord, you can evict a tenant for a variety of reasons. Now, the reason for the eviction will determine what type of eviction notice to serve them. The following are the eviction notices to use in the state of Florida.

  • 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. You can serve this to a tenant who is late paying rent. The notice gives tenants two options: to pay the entire rent due or leave the premises. Weekends and holidays don’t count.
  • 15-Day Notice to Quit. You can serve this notice to evict tenants who are renting month-to-month or have no lease. This notice will give the tenant 15 calendar days to move out on their own or else risk getting evicted.For tenants who don’t pay rent on a monthly basis, you must use different notices depending on the rent payment frequency. For example, for tenants who pay rent on a week-to-week basis, you can serve them a 7-Day Notice. For those paying rent on a year-to-year basis, you can serve them a 60 days’ notice to terminate their lease.

two people holding boxes that cover their faces

  • 7-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate. You can serve this notice to tenants who commit minor lease violations. Examples include parking in an unauthorized area or having an unauthorized pet.You don’t have to offer the tenant a second chance to fix a violation if they repeat the same within a 12-month period.
  • 7-Day Unconditional Quit Notice. You can serve this notice to a tenant who commits serious (or repeated) violations. This will give the tenant a maximum of 7 calendar days to either move out or risk getting evicted.Examples of incurable violations include illegal activity and excessive property damage.

Serving a Tenant with an Eviction Notice in Florida

As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to serve the tenant with an eviction notice. You must do the delivery in any of the following ways.

  • Delivering the notice to the tenant in person
  • Mailing a copy of the notice to the tenant via mail (registered, certified, or regular)
  • Leaving the notice in a conspicuous area on the property, such as on the front door

Tenant Eviction Defenses in Florida

Once the tenant has been served by a process server or a sheriff, the tenant will have an opportunity to respond. If they have a defense, they will need to write and file their response with the court’s clerk within 5 days. The following are examples of legal defenses the tenant may give to contest their eviction.

person banging gavel

  • The landlord used “self-help” eviction tactics
  • The tenant solved the violation but the landlord still went ahead with their eviction
  • The eviction is based on a protected class
  • The eviction was a retaliatory action against the tenant for exercising their legal right
  • The tenant didn’t violate the lease as alleged
  • The tenant withheld rent as a result of the landlord not maintaining the unit to the expected standards
  • The eviction notice contained substantial errors

Attending Court Hearing

You’ll need to prepare adequately for the eviction hearing to maximize your chances of a win. As such, make sure to carry the following items with you to court.

  • A copy of the lease
  • A copy of the eviction notice
  • Any evidence or witnesses to help you prove the case before the court

If the judgment is in your favor, whether through a default judgment or a successful hearing, the court will issue you with a Writ of Possession. This will then mandate the sheriff to carry out the eviction on your behalf.

Writ of Possession

A writ of possession gives tenants a maximum of 24 hours to leave or else get forcefully evicted by the sheriff. If the tenant doesn’t move out on their own, the sheriff will return to the property and forcefully evict the tenant from the premises.

Bottom Line

For additional questions on the Florida eviction process, Keyrenter Tampa can help. We can help you build and optimize your real estate portfolio in Tampa or the surrounding areas. Get in touch to learn more!

Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.