There are a number of reasons why you may evict a tenant, granted the tenancy is already terminated. Terminating the tenancy means serving the tenant with a written notice as specified by Florida state law. Next, you would need to file an eviction lawsuit, if the tenant fails to comply with the written notice.
The eviction process is dependent upon the given situation. Renters can be evicted for committing illegal acts, violating the rental agreement, and not paying rent. In Florida, specific reasons for evictions are covered under the Florida Statutes.
During the eviction, you should never try to force a tenant to move out. Only if it becomes necessary, will the law mandate a constable or a sheriff to do so.
Below is a quick guide to the eviction process in Florida.
1. Determine whether to proceed with the process of eviction
It is imperative to determine whether there exist any grounds for eviction in the first place. Nonpayment of rent is the most common ground for eviction. Others include violations of the lease agreement, as well as violations of the federal law.
· As a Florida landlord, make sure not to violate any of the lease’s terms
The tenant will be given equal opportunity to provide any testimony and/or evidence in court. If the court finds that you have violated any part of the lease agreement, the case you’re fronting could tumble. It is important to make sure there’s nothing that can be used against you in court. This can be dealt with by ensuring:
- You are complying with all relevant housing, health, safety, and building codes
- You are following the applicable local eviction procedures and applicable Florida State laws
- You are maintaining common areas in a manner that guarantees safety and sanitary conditions
- You are maintaining a habitable living space by conducting all feasible and relevant repairs
· Send a warning letter to the tenant
If possible, it may be a wise idea to try and handle the issue outside the court system. Some problems can be the result of a mere misunderstanding.
You can try sending the renter a letter. In the letter, remind the tenant of the lease agreement that he/she signed and point out the violations committed.
Also, remember to send the letter via certified mail.
If the letter doesn’t help, keep it as documentation so it can be used in court later.
2. File an Eviction Complaint
If a resolution was not reached after sending the warning letter, it could be time to send the renter a notice of eviction. Similar to the warning letter, make sure to use the services of an attorney and send it through certified mail.
The Florida Court provides all the different notice of eviction forms you may need. The type of notice used should be relevant to why you are evicting the renter. It should also specify the time provided to vacate the premises.
Types of eviction notices in Florida:
- 30-day notice in case the agreement was oral or if the signed lease agreement didn’t provide a lease duration. (This is a special eviction law only applicable to Miami Beach tenants)
- 15-day notice in case the tenancy was month-to-month
- one-week curative or non-curative notice for lease- or law violations evictions.
- 3-day notice for tenants who have failed to pay rent
· Create, File & Deliver the Florida eviction notice to tenants
Some lease terms provide specific instructions while others don’t. In case the lease terms are non-existent, just go ahead and hand over a copy to an adult occupant. You can also post it on the door of the premises or send it via certified mail.
· Serve an eviction complaint
The toll of the notice begins on the day it was served and expires on the last day, exactly at midnight. The only exceptions are holidays and weekends.
In Florida, the eviction complaint must be served to the tenant by a sheriff.
You also need to file a notarized complaint with the clerk’s office. The filing fee is around $185.
· Provide the tenant with a service of summons
This can be served to the tenant by a county sheriff or a private process server. The tenant then has two options – answer the summons in court or vacate the premises within five days.
· Attend court proceedings
Make sure to collect anything that can help you in the case. For example, remember to carry proof of the notices served to the tenant. If the renter fails to show up for court summons or the court doesn’t rule in their favor, the tenant has exactly 24 hours to vacate the property.
You will be required to pay for the writ of possession.
If during the eviction process the tenant leaves their personal property, you are required to notify them in writing. Florida law mandates you to give the tenant up to 10 days to clear up their personal items and 15 days if the notice was mailed.
If the tenant fails to clear their property in due time, you’re at will to dispose of their items in whichever way, you like.
· Attorney Fees – Who pays for the eviction?
In a Florida tenant-landlord eviction, the attorney fees are entitled to the winning party. Attorneys can charge anything from $150/hr. for a budget attorney to $400/hr for a more experienced one. During an eviction, experience matters the most not the fee, so you shouldn’t let the numbers fool you.
The point here is that the loser of the landlord-tenant dispute pays the highest price. The losing party not only pays for their own attorney fees but also for the winning party.
Florida Landlord-tenant issues can be simple or complex. To ensure everything is done correctly, it is highly recommended that you have an attorney on your side. True, evictions are annoying, but they’re part of the investment property business.
Avoid by all means going into panic mode when you have to conduct an eviction. Instead, move forward confidently and handle the process the best way you possibly can.