Before evicting a tenant, a Florida landlord has to give him advance notice. If the tenant refuses to move when the notice period expires, the landlord has to go to court. The time for eviction could be as little as three days, or much longer if the tenant fights back.
The Florida Bar website says a landlord must give notice in writing before evicting a tenant, ideally hand-delivering it. If that isn't possible, the landlord can post the notice prominently at the rental or send it by mail. The timeline depends on the circumstances:
- If the tenant hasn't paid rent, the landlord must give her three days advance warning before starting the eviction process. If she pays up, he can't evict her.
- When the tenant has broken the lease, the landlord must give seven days notice, Florida Legal Services says on its website. If the problem can be remedied and the tenant fixes it, there's no eviction.
- If the landlord doesn't want to renew a month-to-month rental, he must give at least 15 days notice. For a weekly period, it's seven days.
- If the tenant has a long-term lease the landlord doesn't want to renew, the lease is key. If, say, the tenant must give 30 days notice of nonrenewal, the landlord has the same obligation.
Florida attorney Cathy Lucrezi says on the website of the Law Offices of Heist, Weisse & Wolk, P.A. that the law treats disabled tenants like able tenants. There's no special eviction law for disabled renters. However a landlord who evicts a disabled tenant out of discrimination breaks the law.
Going to Court
If the tenant pays the back rent or fixes the problem, there's no eviction. If the tenant moves out by the end of the notice period, there's no need for the landlord to do anything except advertise the vacancy. However, some tenants choose to stay put. Once the notice period expires, the landlord must file a complaint in court to proceed with the eviction.
Prior to 2013, a landlord who sent a seven-day notice had to give a second seven-day notice before going to court. The state changed that law in 2013.
The landlord must file a complaint in the county where the rental property is located. A process server or the county sheriff delivers a court summons and a copy of the complaint to the tenant, usually by hand. The tenant has five days to file a response with the court, not counting weekends and legal holidays.
If the tenant doesn't respond, the landlord can request a default judgment from the court. The court then issues a writ of possession to the county sheriff's department. The sheriff gives the tenant 24 hours to move or be forcibly removed.
Eviction takes longer if the tenant files an answer to the eviction suit. The tenant's answer must offer a defense against the landlord's reasons for eviction. Defenses might include:
- The tenant already paid the rent.
- There was no violation of the lease.
- The landlord is discriminating against the tenant by evicting him because of his race, religion, disability or some other factor.
The court might require the tenant to deposit a rent payment until the case is heard. Once the tenant files, the judge will schedule a hearing. If the tenant doesn't show or the landlord wins, the landlord gets the writ of possession. If the tenant wins, he can stay put.