Times have been tough for landlords and tenants lately, and with most eviction moratoriums expired, it is important for landlords to have a solid understanding of the reasons for eviction and the eviction process in Florida.
Reasons for eviction
The most common reasons for eviction are failure to pay rent or a breach of the lease’s terms. Under Florida law, a tenant may also be evicted for things like failing to maintain minimum standards of cleanliness, damaging the property or engaging in disruptive behavior that disturbs the other tenant’s right to peaceful enjoyment of the property.
If your tenant is engaging in one of the above activities, you are legally required to follow each step in the eviction process. Although the eviction process can be costly and lengthy, it is illegal for you to do things like change the locks to prevent the tenant from accessing the residence or shut off the utilities in hopes that the tenant will voluntarily leave.
Actions like these are referred to as “self-help” by landlords. If you do any of these things, your tenant may take you to court and obtain an order that requires you to let them back into the residence or turn their utilities back on. You could also be responsible for paying their costs or attorney fees.
Steps in the eviction process
The eviction process is relatively simple if you follow these steps. First, provide your tenant with notice that you intend to evict. A 3-day notice must be given if the eviction is for non-payment of rent, while a 7-day notice must be given if the eviction is for a breach of the lease. The notice must be in writing and delivered in a method that proves your tenant received the notice, such as personally or by certified mail.
If the number of days in the notice passes and your tenant does not vacate, you must file an eviction lawsuit and serve your tenant with a copy of the lawsuit using a private service company or a sheriff.
Your tenant will have five days to respond to the lawsuit. If no response is provided, you will receive a date and time to appear and ask for a writ of possession. If your tenant provides a written response, an eviction hearing will be scheduled.
Assuming you are successful at the hearing, your tenant will be served with a writ of possession, giving them one notice to vacate, typically anywhere from 24 to 48 hours, after which they will be physically removed by a sheriff.
Landlord and tenant relationships can become complex and strained during the eviction process. An experienced attorney is often a valuable resource.