How Eviction Works In Florida

Bad tenant giving you a headache in Florida? Perhaps the tenant is behind on rent or flagrantly violating the lease. Late payments, loud noise at night, long-term guests, illegal sub-leasing. These are common situation landlords are stuck dealing with. When tenants engage in these behaviors, you’re likely wondering can I get rid of them through eviction?

Eviction is the last resort. Screening tenants, clear communication, holding up your end of the landlord bargain, setting clear boundaries. These are ways to avoid the drama of tenant removal lawsuits. Unfortunately, no matter what you try, eviction may be the only solution to a problem tenant.

Eviction is the legal process whereby a landlord removes a tenant from rental property. Eviction laws vary widely state to state. If you need to know how eviction words in Florida . . . Read on!


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First Eviction Step: Written Notice for Termination.

The first step in eviction, before a landlord can terminate a lease or file an eviction lawsuit, is serving the tenant written “notice” identifying the lease violation.

Written Notice of Lease Violation
Landlords must provide written notice of lease violation before terminating tenancy or filing for eviction.

Required notice varies depending on the reason for lease termination (late rent, lease violation, property damage, illegal or drug activity). There are three notices in Florida: “Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit”, “Seven-Day Notice to Cure”, and “Seven-Day Unconditional Quit Notice.”

Three-Day Notice To Pay Rent or Quit (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.56(3)). Landlords may serve a “three-day notice to pay rent or quit” when a tenant fails to pay rent. If within three business days the tenant doesn’t pay rent or move out, the landlord may file an eviction lawsuit. Check out the Florida’s bar sample “three-day notice” here.

What the 3-Day Notice Should Say. According to Section 83.56(3), the three-day notice must include:

“You are hereby notified that you are indebted to me in the sum of ___ dollars for the rent and use of the premises (address of leased premises, including county), Florida, now occupied by you and that I demand payment of the rent or possession of the premises within 3 days (excluding Saturday, Sunday, and legal holidays) from the date of delivery of this notice, to wit: on or before the __ day of ___ , (year).”

It is recommended that landlords write on the three-day notice the date and how the notice was served, as well as an ultimatum that the landlord shall pursue legal action if the tenant does not pay rent or move.

Seven-Day Notice to Cure & Vacate (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.56(2)(b)). This notice applies where the lease violation can be corrected. The tenant has seven days to become compliant – where lease violation continues, the landlord may file for eviction and submit a Seven-Day Notice to Vacate.

What the Seven-Day Notice to Cure Should Say. Pursuant to the above statute, the seven-day notice to cure must state the following:

“You are hereby notified that (cite the noncompliance). Demand is hereby made that you remedy the noncompliance within 7 days of receipt of this notice or your lease shall be deemed terminated and you shall vacate the premises upon such termination. If this same conduct or conduct of a similar nature is repeated within 12 months, your tenancy is subject to termination without your being given an opportunity to cure the noncompliance.”

The statute requires that you cite the reason for non-compliance. Be thorough. Courts look for detail before forcibly removing a tenant. Explicitly state the violation, including the date, time, and exact behavior. Good practice is also to provide the tenant instruction how to remedy the violation. Beware: do not accept rental payments after you served a seven-day notice to cure – this waive your right to evict the tenant due to this non-compliance.

Where violations continue past 7-days, landlords may serve the “Seven-day notice to vacate” which formally terminates the lease and grants a period of seven days to vacate. This should read as follows: “You are advised that your lease is terminated effective immediately. You shall have 7 days from the delivery of this letter to vacate the premises. This action is taken because (cite the noncompliance).”

Seven-Day Unconditional Quit Notice. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.56(2)(a)). Lease violations for correctable issues don’t always require a second seven-day notice to vacate. Landlords may serve a “Seven-Day Unconditional Quit Notice” for tenant actions such as destruction, damage, or misuse of property by intentional act, or violence and/or illegal behavior. The language is similar to the seven-day notice terminate referenced above.

How To Serve Notices. Pursuant to Stat. Ann. § 83-56(4), landlords have 3 options for serving three-day notice document:

  • Personally deliver to the tenant at the rental property.

    Filing Complaint For Tenant Eviction
    Landlords file a complaint with the County Clerk to institute eviction litigation.
  • Mailing a copy via regular mail, registered mail, or certified mail.
  • Leaving the the notice at the rental unit in a conspicuous place, such affixed to the front door.

The Last Resort: Filing Eviction Summons & Complaint

Where tenant fails to rectify the violations or vacate the property, the landlord may institute eviction legal proceedings by filing and serving an Eviction Summons and Complaint. Copies of the documents and a certificate of service upon the tenant must be submitted to the county clerk. The clerk also must notarize the complaint.

The complaint and summons must be served by registered process server or sheriff. The tenant has 5 days to file an answer with the court. The landlord must contact the court clerk to schedule a hearing date if the tenant files and serves an answer. At the hearing, the judge will decide whether the tenant should be evicted, based on the landlord’s complaint and tenant’s answer.

If the tenant does not file an answer, the landlord may make a Motion for a Default Judgment requesting a Final Judgment for Possession, also called a Final Judgment for Removal of Tenant.

Once the landlord receives a Final Judgment For Removal, the next step is as follows:

If the landlord is granted possession, the landlord must obtain a Writ of Possession to be given to the sheriff for service. Occasionally, the address of the property described in the Final Judgment for Removal of Tenant is different from that on the requested writ. If so, the clerk may not issue the writ. Once the writ is served or conspicuously posted on the property, the tenant has 24-hours to vacate. If tenant does not, then tenant will be forcibly removed.

Defenses To Eviction
Tenants may assert defenses to eviction such as improper notice, failure to maintain property, retaliation, and discrimination.

Defenses to Eviction

Be aware that part of the eviction process is that the tenant is permitted to institute defenses to the eviction proceed. In Florida, the following are considered defenses to the eviction proceeding:

  • Improper Notice. Landlord did not provide written not as required by applicable statutes.
  • Landlord Did Not Property Maintain Residence. Pursaunt to Ann. § 83-51,landlords has a statutory duty to repair and maintan property. Where the landlord does not do so, the tenant is free to stop paying rent.
  • Waiver by Landlord. If the landlord accepts rent after beginning an eviction, the landlord waives the right to evict.
  • Landlord Retaliation. There are specific acts defined in Stat. Ann. § 83.64, that prevent a landlord for filing evictionthese acts include, but are not limited to: complaining to government agency about a building, house or health code violation, patriicpoating a tenants’ organization, complaint to the landlord about not maintaining a rental unit, being called into active duty.
  • The federal Fair Housing Actand the Florida Fair Housing Act make it illegal for a landlords to discriminate against a tenant based on race, religion, gender, national origin, familial status (including children under the age of 18 and pregnant women), and disability.

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