A Guide to Eviction Process in Florida
When evicting a tenant, you want to save time and money while eliminating the mental stress that comes with following the wrong path. The state of Florida is known as being landlord friendly, and the best eviction process is to understand what the state laws allow you to do and what you cannot do.
For example, before evicting a tenant, you must have legal grounds like a lease violation or lack of rent payment. The things you must not do include using threats or disconnecting utilities to force a tenant out of your property.
These guidelines are in the law, and knowing what your state laws require enables you to follow the right path.
Here is a guide that helps you understand the eviction process in Florida so you can speed up the process and make your property profitable.
Reasons to Evict a Tenant in Florida
When you lease a property, there may come a time when you need the tenant to vacate for various reasons. The reasons may vary, but there are common situations that you need to know about and prepare for if they arise. These situations include the following.
1. Rent Payment Problems
One of the main reasons for leasing out your property is to collect rent, which is a vital stream of income. If the tenant occupying your property is habitually paying rent late or does not pay rent, you have the right to evict them.
A lack of rent payment drains your resources as your property wears and tears, which is worse than having a vacant property. The first step is to send the tenant a notice asking them to pay their rent on time.
If they do so, that's great, but if there's no payment or the problem of late payment persists, you can start the eviction process.
2. Causing Property Damage
Sometimes you may feel the damage on your property is more than what you would consider normal, which can be worrying. Wear and tear that is above normal is reason enough to consider evicting a tenant. So what's the difference between normal and abnormal wear and tear?
Normal wear and tear does not cause damage to your property, and your tenant is not liable. Examples are slow shower drainage from pipe build-up, loose faucets, minor scratches on the floor, loose hinges, nail holes on walls, and cracked paint. If there's normal wear and tear due to everyday use, you can deduct fees from the security deposit.
Property damage is something that might require major repairs or extraordinary cleaning, like knocking down a wall or running a car through the garage. It can also be a tenant placing unauthorized wallpaper or breaking enamel. Such situations allow you to send your tenant an eviction notice, especially if they habitually cause such damages.
3. Public Nuisance
If your property is within a community, tenants are expected to abide by specific guidelines. While occasional complaints from other tenants are expected, landlords should take repeated violations seriously.
For example, if a tenant is repeatedly making loud noises and becoming a public nuisance, a landlord can choose to evict that tenant. This is because the police department has the right to fine a property owner if other tenants file a nuisance complaint.
Including the consequences of noise violations in the lease agreement can help address such problems earlier. If a tenant continues to violate the agreement, send them an eviction notice.
4. Lease Violation
Another common reason that may cause you to evict a tenant is a violation of the lease agreement. Send a written warning to a tenant who is violating any lease agreement, along with the amount of time they are required to correct their actions. For example, you can give an allowance of two weeks or one month to correct the problem.
If there's no change, you can evict the tenant. Some of the common lease violation issues include.
- Subletting a unit
- Keeping unauthorized animals in the building
- Conducting unauthorized business on the property.
5. Tenants Breaking the Law
If you discover that a tenant is conducting illegal activities on your property, you have the right to serve them with an eviction notice. For example, a tenant who stores and distributes illegal substances like drugs is breaking the law, and you can follow tenant eviction rules according to your state.
The eviction notice regarding issues like a tenant dealing with drugs may differ from state to state. The state of Florida allows termination of the lease agreement within 24 hours or less. The first step is to notify the authorities and file an eviction notice as soon as possible.
6. No Lease or End of a Lease Agreement
Another common reason for eviction is if the lease period has come to an end or if there's no lease. In such situations, a landlord is expected to issue a notice depending on the rent payment method.
For example, the duration of the notice depends on whether the rent payment is weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly. After issuing a notice and the leasing period has ended, the landlord can initiate the eviction process.
Reasons Landlords Cannot Evict Tenants in Florida
Although the state of Florida is known as being landlord-friendly, landlords must follow Chapter 3 of the landlord-tenant statutes. If the eviction is unlawful, a tenant can successfully challenge the eviction and cite the following reasons.
- Self-help eviction, like shutting down utilities or changing locks to force a tenant to leave.
- Errors in the eviction notice, like a notice without the date a tenant must leave the property.
- The eviction is in retaliation against a tenant, like complaining to the authorities about the landlord violating building codes.
- Landlord discrimination against gender, religion, nationality, race, or familial status.
Types of Notices in Florida
If you want to evict a tenant, you need to write a proper notice and issue it so that the eviction is successful. Without providing proper notice, the tenant might challenge the eviction in court, which will delay the process and waste your time. Here are the types of notices you can give tenants in Florida.
1. Eviction Notice for Non-Payment
If a tenant is not paying rent according to the lease agreement, give them a 3-day notice to leave the premises. The three days do not include weekends or holidays, and the reasons given are non-payment of rent.
A three-business days notice allows the tenant to pay the rent they owe, remedy the situation, or leave your property.
2. End of Lease or No Lease Eviction Notice
If there is no lease or the lease agreement has come to an end, you can send a notice to the tenant to vacate the premises. The written notice you issue depends on the frequency of rent payment as follows.
- Weekly payments give a 7-day notice
- Monthly payments give a 15-day notice
- Quarterly payments give a 30-day notice
- Yearly payments give a 60-day notice
3. Lease Violation Eviction Notice
Landlords should give tenants seven days notice if they violate the lease agreement in Florida. Reach out for legal assistance to help you put together all the essential information and avoid errors.
Errors on the eviction notice are grounds for the tenant to challenge the eviction in court, which will delay the process.
How to Deliver Termination Notices in Florida
A "termination notice" is a written eviction letter that says the landlord wishes to end a lease agreement. The landlord should deliver this letter via a certified mail service, post it on the front door, or deliver it personally. Keep a copy of the eviction notice as evidence that you can present in court.
Steps of Eviction Process in Florida
An eviction process starts with a written notice and ends with a writ of removal. If you follow the right steps, an uncontested eviction can take as little as one week, or an average of 15 days. Sometimes it can take several years under unusual circumstances. Here are the steps of eviction in Florida.
1. Provide a Written notice
Issue a written notice to the tenant and keep a signed copy as evidence. The notice depends on the rent payment method. It can be a 3, 7, 15, 30, or 60 days notice.
2. File an Eviction Lawsuit
If you deliver an eviction notice and the tenant continues to stay in your property, you can file a lawsuit. File the lawsuit in the right county in person or via an e-filing portal.
Include the names of the landlord and tenant, the reason for eviction, the property address, and the notice you issued. After processing the lawsuit, each tenant will be served.
3. Tenants are Served with Summons and Complaint
The tenants are served with the summons and complaint. They have up to 5 days to contest the lawsuit in writing. When a tenant contests an eviction, the court process may take longer.
The tenant will present reasons why they should not be evicted, and if the court finds such reasons valid, the court will dismiss the lawsuit. But if the reasons are not valid, the eviction process will proceed to a court hearing.
4. Court Hearing
The hearing and judgment step is where all the necessary documents are presented before the judge for a ruling. These documents include a copy of the rental agreement, eviction notices, and any evidence that is helpful to the case.
After examining these documents, the judge will make a ruling. If the tenant fails to appear before the court, the ruling will be in favor of the landlord.
5. Writ of possession
A landlord receives a writ of possession if they win the court case. That means a tenant is required to vacate the premises within 24 hours. If the tenant refuses to vacate, authorities will remove them forcibly.
6. Return of Property
After winning the lawsuit, the authorities returned the property to the landlord. A sheriff can put a lock on the property or rental unit so that the tenant vacates.
Navigating an eviction process can be challenging, especially if you don't know what the law requires in your state. If you are in the real estate business in Florida, familiarize yourself with the eviction process and seek legal help where necessary. This will help you avoid costly mistakes that waste your time. Avoiding wrongful termination gives you peace of mind and speeds up eviction. Following the right eviction process also ensures your rental property is profitable.
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