In Florida, all evictions follow the same process:
- Landlord serves tenant written notice.
- Landlord files complaint with court (if unresolved).
- Court serves tenant with Summons & Complaint.
- Court holds hearing and issues judgment.
- Sheriff serves tenant with Writ of Possession.
- Sheriff returns possession of property to landlord.
From start to finish, an eviction in Florida can be completed in two to three weeks. However, it can take longer depending on the reason and whether the tenant contests it.
Grounds for an Eviction in Florida
In Florida, a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without cause. Legal grounds to evict include not paying rent on time, staying after the lease ends, violating lease terms or not upholding responsibilities under Florida law. Even so, proper notice must first be given before ending the tenancy.
Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent
In Florida, a landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. To do so, they must first give 3 days notice to pay rent or vacate the premises. If the tenant does neither after that time, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.
Unless the lease states otherwise, rent is due at the beginning of each pay period and is considered late in Florida the day immediately after its due date . So for example, if rent is due on the first of the month, it is considered late starting on the second of the month (if not paid in full). There is no right to a legal grace period (i.e. five days) or exceptions for weekends or court-observed holidays.
Once rent is considered late, the landlord can begin the eviction process by serving the tenant with proper notice.
Eviction for No Lease or End of Lease
In Florida, a landlord can evict a tenant without a lease or with a lease that has ended (known as a “holdover tenant” or “tenant at will”). To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving proper notice to move out (15 days for tenants that pay month-to-month).
Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.
Eviction for Violation of Lease or Responsibilities
In Florida, a landlord can evict a tenant for violating the terms of their lease or not upholding their responsibilities under Florida landlord tenant law. Some (but not all) violations allow the tenant to fix (“cure”) the issue to avoid eviction. Regardless of the issue, the landlord must give 7 days notice before proceeding.
For more minor offenses, the tenant can remain at the property if they fix the issue within the 7 day notice period. Examples of curable violations include:
- Having an unauthorized pet, guest or vehicle.
- Parking in an unauthorized area.
- Not maintaining a certain level of cleanliness.
However, if the tenant repeats the violation within a 12-month period, the landlord does not have to offer the tenant a second chance to fix it.
For more serious (or repeated) offenses, the tenant isn’t given the opportunity to fix the issue and remain at the property. For incurable violations, a tenant must vacate the premises within the 7 day period or the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit. Examples of incurable violations include:
- Excessive damage, destruction, or misuse of the property.
- Use of the property for illegal activity.
Illegal Evictions in Florida
In Florida, either of the below actions by a landlord are illegal. If proven in court, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant the cost of damages or 3 months rent, whichever is greater (plus the tenant’s legal fees).
“Self Help” Evictions
No matter the situation, a landlord is not allowed to forcibly remove a tenant by:
- Changing the locks.
- Shutting off utilities.
- Removing tenant belongings.
A tenant can only be legally removed with a court order obtained through the formal eviction process.
It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in response to exercising a legally protected right. These rights include:
- Complaining to the landlord about an issue with the property;
- Contacting a local or government agency about an issue with the property;
- Joining, supporting or organizing a tenant union or organization;
- Pursuing legal action against the landlord; or
- Withholding rent for a legally acceptable reason.
Step 1: Landlord Serves Notice to Tenant
A landlord can begin the eviction process in Florida by serving the tenant with written notice. The notice must be delivered by one of the following methods:
- Hand delivering the notice to the tenant.
- Mailing a copy of the notice via regular mail, certified mail or registered mail.
- Leaving the notice in a conspicuous place (i.e. on the front door).
It is important for a landlord to always maintain a copy of the signed and served notice as proof of proper service of notice.
3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit
If a tenant is late on paying rent (full or partial) in Florida, the landlord can serve them a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. This notice gives the tenant 3 days (not counting weekends or holidays) to pay the entire remaining balance or vacate the premises.
15-Day Notice to Quit
For a tenant with no lease or a month-to-month lease in Florida, the landlord must serve them a 15-Day Notice to Quit to end the tenancy. This eviction notice allows the tenant 15 calendar days to move out (or the next business day if the final day lands on a weekend or legal holiday).
However, for tenants that don’t pay monthly, the amount of notice differs:
|Rent Payment Frequency||Notice Amount|
7-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate
In Florida, if a tenant commits a minor violation of the terms of their lease or legal responsibilities as a tenant, the landlord can serve them a 7-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate. This eviction notice gives the tenant 7 calendar days to fix the issue or move out.
7-Day Unconditional Quit Notice
In Florida, if a tenant commits a serious (or repeated) violation of their lease or legal responsibilities, the landlord can serve them a 7-Day Unconditional Quit Notice. This eviction notice gives the tenant 7 calendar days to move out without the chance to cure the issue and remain.
Step 2: Landlord Files Lawsuit with Court
If the notice period ends and the tenant remains on the property, the Landlord must next file a complaint in the court of the proper county. The most convenient way to file a case is by using the Florida Courts’ e-Filing Portal.
The complaint should include the following information:
- The landlord and tenant names;
- The rental property address, including the county;
- The grounds for eviction (i.e., nonpayment of rent, lease violation, etc.); and
- When notice was served.
After being notarized by the county clerk, the summons and complaint are forwarded to a process server or county sheriff to serve each named tenant. Certain fees may apply for the service of the summons and complaint.
The number of copies and which documents you need to provide varies based on the claims and number of tenants in your suit. To be certain always call the local Clerk’s Office. When only one tenant is involved, the Landlord will generally need:
- The original and two copies of the summons and complaint;
- Three copies of the notice served on the tenant;
- Three copies of the lease or rental agreement, if applicable;
- The applicable filing fee in the form of cash, check, money order, or credit card; and
- Proof of service.
If filing an eviction suit through the e-Filing Portal, the landlord will still need to serve a copy of the above documents on each tenant.
In most counties, filing fees cost around $185 and an additional $10 per tenant for each summons that will be issued. Information regarding filing fees can be found on the applicable county court website, such as the Miami-Dade County Clerk of the Courts Website.
Approximately Five Days. After the eviction lawsuit is filed, it can take two to three days (or more) for the court to issue the summons. After that, it can then take another two to three days for the tenant to be served, as it may take multiple tries to make contact. If a second attempt is unsuccessful, the documents will be posted in a conspicuous place on the property.
Step 3: Court Serves Tenant with Summons & Complaint
Once the process server or sheriff has served the tenant, the tenant may choose to respond to (“contest”) the complaint. A response must be in writing and filed with the clerk of court within five days.
If the tenant contests the eviction, the process may take longer or include additional steps. To contest the eviction the tenant must have a legal defense, or a valid reason why the landlord should not evict them. The tenant must also serve the landlord with the response containing the defenses.
A valid legal defense may include the following situations:
- The landlord executed a “self help” eviction prior to finalizing the proper legal proceedings;
- The tenant resolved a curable violation;
- The landlord discriminated against the tenant;
- The landlord evicted the tenant in a retaliatory manner;
- The tenant did not violate the terms of the lease;
- The landlord failed to properly maintain the rental unit as required by state and federal law; or
- The notice or complaint contained substantial errors, such as omitting the effective date of eviction.
A court may dismiss the eviction lawsuit if it finds any of the above defenses to be true, aside from errors in the legal documents. If the notice or complaint contained substantial errors, the landlord must fix the errors and restart the eviction process.
If the tenant does not choose to contest the eviction, the process will proceed via the steps below.
Five business days. The tenant will have five days to respond (not including weekends and legal holidays). As noted above, if the tenant chooses to contest the eviction during this time, the process can take several weeks longer.
Step 4: Court Holds Hearing & Issues Judgment
If the tenant did not contest the eviction, the landlord may move forward with filing a default motion judgement to obtain a Judgment for Possession.
If the tenant did contest the eviction, the tenant may be required to pay the Court Clerk the amount of any outstanding rent and any rent until the lawsuit is over. If there is a disagreement over the amount of rent owed, the tenant may file a motion with the court to have the amount determined. Landlords must appear in court. If a properly served tenant fails to show up for the court date, the court will automatically rule in favor of the landlord.
To prepare for the hearing the landlord and tenant should bring the following:
- A copy of the lease agreement;
- The notice to quit or to pay;
- The complaint; and
- Any evidence (i.e., photos of damage, billing statements, etc.) or witnesses to help prove the case in court.
Regardless if the eviction was contested or not, if the judge rules in favor of the landlord, a Writ of Possession will be subsequently issued and the process will proceed.
Approximately Five Days. Depending on their availability, it can take several days for a judge to rule on the eviction (and subsequently issue the Writ of Possession). Once a Writ of Possession is issued, it falls into the hands of the county sheriff’s office to serve the tenant with, which can take another two days or more.
Step 5: Sheriff Posts Writ of Possession
In Florida, a Writ of Possession is a court order served to a tenant by a sheriff that gives the tenant a final 24 hours to move out before being forcibly removed. The order is issued in response to a ruling made in favor of a landlord in an eviction case.
24 hours. The sheriff will serve the writ allowing the tenant 24 hours to vacate before the sheriff has permission to execute the writ. Depending on their availability, it may take several more hours for them to do so.
Step 6: Sheriff Returns Property to Landlord
Finally, the sheriff will return to the property to complete the process by placing a padlock on the door.
If the tenant remains on the property upon the sheriff’s return, the tenant will be forcibly removed. If any of the tenant’s belongings remains at the property, they will not be moved. Those belongings may be used as a lien for damages or payment to the landlord.
Florida Eviction Process Timeline
In Florida, an eviction can be completed in as little as 2 to 3 weeks but can take longer depending on the reason for eviction, whether the eviction is contested, which days courts are (or aren’t) in session and other various possible delays.
Below are the parts of the Florida eviction process outside the control of landlords for cases that go uncontested.
|Initial Notice Period||3-15 Calendar Days|
|Court Issuing Summons||1-3 Business Days|
|Court Serving Summons||1-3 Business Days|
|Tenant Response Period||5 Business Days|
|Court Ruling||1-5 Business Days|
|Court Serving Writ of Possession||1-3 Business Days|
|Final Notice Period||24 Hours|