Florida Eviction Process
October 23, 2023
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Eviction in Florida
If you own and rent properties in the state of Florida, you are responsible for complying with Florida eviction laws. In this article, we break down each step of the legal Florida eviction process for landlords.
Florida’s eviction laws can be found at Fla. Stat. § 83.56-83.67.
Eviction Process in Florida
- Landlord serves a three- to seven-day eviction notice.
- Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court.
- Court serves tenant a summons.
- Tenant files an answer.
- Landlord and tenant attend court hearing and receive judgment.
- Tenant gets 24 hours to move out.
- Sheriff arrives to forcibly remove the tenant.
In Florida, procedures to evict a tenant can begin when the tenant does any of the following:
- Stops paying rent
- Has unauthorized pets, vehicles, or guests
- Parks where parking is not permitted
- Fails to keep the property clean and sanitary
- Violates another lease term
- Causes destruction, damage, or misuse to the property
- Creates an unreasonable disturbance
- Commits a second violation of a similar nature within 12 months of a first violation
It’s important to note that if a landlord accepts full rent payments during the eviction process with actual knowledge of a noncompliance, they waive their right to terminate the rental agreement and pursue an eviction for that noncompliance (Fla. Stat. § 83.56(5)(a)). Partial rent can be accepted (see next section).
1. Landlord Serves a Three- to Seven-Day Eviction Notice
If any of the above lease violations occur, by Florida eviction notice law, the landlord must first serve written notice and state that the tenant has the corresponding number of days to remedy or cure the violation. There are three possible eviction notices a landlord may send in Florida:
- Rent Demand Notice: 3 days to pay or quit. If rent is unpaid when due, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the amount of unpaid rent required to remedy the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate if it is not paid (not less than three days after receipt of the notice, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays) (Fla. Stat. § 83.56(3)).
Although the landlord should not accept full rent payments during this period, they may accept partial rent for the period by providing the tenant with a receipt, placing the partial rent in the registry of the court upon filing for eviction, or posting a new three-day notice to pay or quit reflecting the new amount due (Fla. Stat. § 83.56(5)(a)).
- Lease Violation Notice: 7 days to cure or quit. If a tenant violates a lease term, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the breach and what is required to remedy it, as well as the date on which the lease will terminate if the tenant does not cure the breach (not less than seven business days after receipt of the notice) (Fla. Stat. § 83.56(2)(b)).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: 7 days to quit. This notice gives no opportunity to “cure” the violation and applies if the tenant does any of the following on the leased premises as per Fla. Stat. § 83.56(2)(a):
- Destroys, damages, or misuses the landlord’s or other tenants’ property
- Creates continued unreasonable disturbances
- Repeats a violation within 12 months of a written warning by the landlord of a similar violation
All eviction notices must be delivered to the tenant personally, via mail, or by leaving a copy at the residence (Fla. Stat. § 83.56(4)). For all evictions, the landlord may recover actual damages and reasonable attorney’s fees.
2. Landlord Files an Eviction Lawsuit with the Court
The next step in the Florida tenant eviction process is to file an action with the court. If the tenant has not cured the breach by the end of the notice period (or if the violation is uncurable and the notice period expires), the landlord can then file a Complaint for Eviction (downloadable here) in a Florida County Court with jurisdiction where the property is located. The landlord’s agent is permitted to file the complaint, but they cannot take any action past that unless they are an attorney (Fla. Stat. § 83.59(2)). The easiest way to file is to use the Florida Courts e-Filing portal.
The complaint should describe the dwelling unit and state the facts that authorize its recovery (the tenant’s noncompliance). It also includes the following:
- The county and case number
- The names and information of both parties
- The address of the rental property
- The rental rate and the period (e.g., weekly, monthly, etc.)
- The date the tenant failed to pay rent (for nonpayment cases)
- The date the landlord served the tenant the eviction notice
- The landlord’s signature and contact information
A copy of the eviction notice must be attached to the complaint and labeled as “Exhibit ‘B’”.
The landlord will also need to pay a filing fee, the amount of which varies by county. For example, in Palm Beach County, the initial cost to file an eviction action with less than $2,500 of damages is $185 (more damages can increase the cost to file to $300 or $400).
3. Court Serves Tenant a Summons
Once the complaint is filed, the court will issue a summons (Eviction Summons—Residential, downloadable here). The summons explains that the tenant is being sued and demands the tenant’s presence in court on a specified hearing date and time. It also instructs the tenant to do each of the following within five days to avoid a default judgment:
- Write down the reasons they think they shouldn’t be evicted and give them to the court clerk (or bring to present orally at the hearing).
- Mail a copy of the written response to the landlord.
- Pay the court clerk the rent as it becomes due until the lawsuit is over.
- If the tenant disagrees with the amount of rent due, they must file a written motion asking the judge to decide how much money they are required to give the clerk. They should file this motion with the answer to the complaint and mail a copy to the landlord.
The summons must be served with a copy of the complaint to the tenant by a sheriff or process server. This can take anywhere from two to five days, depending on how soon the sheriff or process server is able to serve the tenant. The cost for service of the court summons is $40 (Fla. Stat. § 30.231(1)(a)).
4. Tenant Files an Answer
After receiving the summons to court, the tenant may choose to file a written answer to contest the complaint. If they do, the answer should include a legal defense explaining why the tenant believes the landlord does not have proper grounds to evict them (e.g., the landlord refused to make repairs or is retaliating against them for filing a housing complaint). The answer and any counterclaim must be filed within five days after service of process (Fla. Stat. § 51.011).
During this period and while the eviction case is pending, the tenant must pay the rent due into the registry of the court. The court summons will include instructions for this process. If the tenant does not do so and does not file a motion to determine the rental amount within five days (excluding weekends and holidays), a default judgment will be awarded in the landlord’s favor (Fla. Stat. § 83.60).
Landlords should note that if the loss of the tenant’s rental income causes enough personal hardship or danger of losing the property (e.g., falling behind on mortgage payments), the landlord can apply to the court for disbursement of the funds. The court can also advance the case on the calendar (Fla. Stat § 83.61).
5. Landlord and Tenant Attend Court Hearing and Receive Judgment
On the day of the eviction hearing, the landlord should bring copies of the lease agreement, the eviction notice with proof of service, the complaint, and any evidence of the lease violation. Both the landlord and tenant will present their cases and any evidence to the judge, who will afterwards issue a judgment.
If the judgment is in the landlord’s favor, the clerk of the county court will issue a Writ of Possession (downloadable here) describing the premises to be restored to the landlord’s possession and commanding the sheriff to execute it (Fla. Stat. § 83.62). It may take several more days for the writ to be issued.
6. Tenant Gets 24 Hours to Move Out
The writ of possession will be served to the tenant or posted in a conspicuous place at the premises by the sheriff. The fee for this service is $40 (Fla. Stat. § 30.231(1)(a)). After it is served, the tenant gets 24 hours to move out. Weekends and holidays are included and do not extend the 24 hours (Fla. Stat. § 83.62(1)).
7. Sheriff Arrives to Forcibly Remove the Tenant
If the tenant has not moved out after 24 hours, the sheriff will return to execute the writ by forcibly removing the tenant and restoring possession to the landlord. The fee for execution of a writ of possession is another $40 (Fla. Stat. § 30.231(1)(d)). The landlord can request that the sheriff remain present (for a reasonable hourly rate) to keep the peace while they remove any remaining personal property on the premises, but neither the sheriff nor the landlord is responsible to the tenant for any lost or damaged property (Fla. Stat. § 83.62(2)).
Evicting a Squatter in Florida
A squatter is a person who moves into a vacant or abandoned property without getting permission from the owner or paying rent. Squatters can usually be charged as criminal trespassers and be evicted like any other tenant. However, some squatters can receive the right to possession by meeting certain state-determined criteria. In Florida, squatters must have lived in the property and paid property taxes for seven consecutive years to invoke squatters rights Florida provides and claim right of possession (Fla. Stat. § 95.18). Their possession must also be:
- Hostile/Adverse—The squatter must not have a valid lease with the owner
- Actual—The squatter must be actively residing on the property
- Open and Notorious—The squatter is openly and obviously living there.
- Exclusive—The squatter does not share possession of the property with anyone else.
- Continuous—The squatter must hold continuous and uninterrupted possession.
While relatively rare, if a squatter meets all these criteria, they have “color of title”: the right of legal ownership without having a written deed to the property. They can file an action for adverse possession in Florida to legally obtain the title to the property. However, in most cases, a squatter will not meet the criteria and can be removed. If you think a squatter is living in your vacant property in Florida, you should:
- Call local law enforcement.
- Determine whether the person is a trespasser or a squatter.
- If the person is a trespasser, they can be removed immediately by a police officer.
- If the person is a squatter, you must contact the sheriff’s office.
- Send the squatter an eviction notice as per Florida eviction law.
- If the squatter does not vacate the premises by the end of the notice period, file for eviction and follow the typical eviction process.
- Only the sheriff can physically remove a squatter from your property. You cannot do so, and neither can a police officer.
Florida Eviction Cost Estimates
This chart shows estimates of the approximate cost of an eviction in Florida, according to civil procedure in the state and iPropertyManagement. A highly accurate estimate of an eviction is impossible to provide, as cases and circumstances vary so widely. Remember to factor in other losses due to an eviction as well, such as lost rent, time, and stress.
|Filing fee||~$185; Varies by county|
|Service of court summons||$40|
|Service of writ of possession||$40|
|Average locksmith fees||$160|
|Storage fees for abandoned property||Varies|
|Tenant turnover costs||Varies|
Florida Eviction Time Estimates
The chart below shows an estimate of the duration of each part of the eviction process. Keep in mind that the length of eviction cases varies widely depending on the complexity of the eviction, the court’s current caseload, and whether or not the tenant contests or appeals the lawsuit.
|Eviction notice period||3-7 days|
|Tenant response period||5 days|
|Issuance and service of summons to tenant||A few days|
|Service of writ of restitution||Varies|
|Time to quit after writ is posted||24 hours|
- Florida Rules of Civil Procedure – This document includes the specific rules of civil procedure and court policies in Florida.
- Landlord-Tenant Forms – This page from the Florida Bar includes various downloadable landlord-tenant forms that have been approved by the Florida Supreme Court for use in landlord-tenant cases.
The eviction process in any state can be long and complex, so hiring an eviction attorney is advised in most cases. It’s also important to note that municipalities and local governments often have stricter laws and requirements for landlords, so be sure to check local statutes as well as state ones. However, by reviewing the legal procedures and Florida laws on eviction, you can feel more confident pursuing an eviction in this state.
Innago does not provide legal advice. The content and materials provided in this article are for general informational purposes only and may not be the most up-to-date information.