What’s the deal with evictions in Florida?
Unauthorized pets are a fairly common reason for eviction of a tenant in Florida. Whether your tenant is harboring a single, illegal iguana, or is part of the “secret underworld of cat feeders all over the county [feeding] literally, thousands of cats every night,” like one tenant who was evicted from a South Swinton rental cottage in Delray Beach. Because feeding stray cats is illegal in Florida, an eviction may be justified, though, in most cases, is a purrfect example of something a landlord may prefer to reach an agreement on with a tenant on to avoid the catwalk of legal steps to evict a tenant in Florida.
What are some reasons I can evict a tenant?
Florida state law recognizes several valid claims for eviction, including:
- Failure to pay rent
- Violation of lease
- Damage to rental property
- Lack of basic property maintenance
- Disturbing the peace
- End of lease
Are there situations in which I cannot evict a tenant?
Tenants cannot be evicted as a form of retaliation for legitimate complaints to housing authorities. Additionally, tenants cannot be evicted without a court order.
What is the process normally like?
Court costs alone should discourage landlords from any unnecessary evictions. It’s always best to try and work out a solution personally before resorting to legal means. When eviction does becomes necessary, keep in mind that Florida landlords may not remove tenants or their property, nor cut off utilities or access to the rental unit. Once a Court Order and Writ of Possession have been issued, the Sheriff’s Office has sole authority in these areas.
Never take it upon yourself to evict a tenant without involving a judge; the lion’s share of such cases result in stiff penalties, sometimes with fines of up to three months’ rent being imposed on the landlord. The most common reason for evicting a tenant is failure to pay rent, or habitually late rent. Legal evictions begin with a 3-Day notice, as specified in Florida State Law. A legal 3-Day notice for failure to pay rent must be written and include the following statement:
“You are hereby notified that you are indebted to me in the sum of ______ dollars for the rent and use of the premises [add 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 __[month]__, [year].”
[Add Landlord’s name, address and telephone number].
It’s also best to include in the 3-Day notice:
- Date of delivery of the Notice
- Method of delivery
- Your intention to seek legal recourse, including eviction, should tenant not pay rent
Follow these steps to legal eviction in Florida:
- Deliver a 3-Day notice in writing as written above to notify tenants of their failure to pay rent on time with the instructions to pay or vacate the premises within three business days either:
- In person
- By mail
- By affixing notice to their front door
- If three business days pass and rent remains unpaid while tenants (or their cats) continue to occupy the rental unit, a landlord may file a complaint with the county court to regain possession of the rental property through eviction.
- File a Summons Complaint with the county court office to gain possession of the property.
- If you appear in court and win the eviction case, the judge with issue a court order and writ of possession.
- Notify the Sheriff’s Office so that they may then take legal possession of the property on your behalf.
Where can I learn more?
If you have any questions, or think you may want to start the eviction process with a tenant in Florida, please consult a lawyer.
- 2015 Florida Landlord and Tenant Statutes
- NOLO Guide to Florida Evictions for Nonpayment of Rent
- The Florida Bar: Tenant & Landlord Duties
Disclaimer: The materials on this database provide general information related to the law and are intended to provide a layman’s summary of the law. The information provided does not constitute legal advice and the manager of this database is not a law firm. These materials are intended, but cannot be promised or guaranteed to be current, complete or up-to-date. All of the information offered are intended for general informational purposes only. You should not act or rely on any of the information contained on this database without first seeking the advice of a qualified attorney.