Florida Eviction Process

Last Updated: February 11, 2022 by Elizabeth Souza

In Florida, a landlord has the legal right to evict a tenant for any of the below reasons:

  • Failure to pay rent.
  • Staying after their lease ends (after given proper notice).
  • Foreclosure of rental property.
  • Not upholding the terms of their lease.
  • Not upholding their responsibilities under Florida Landlord Tenant law.

The eviction process in Florida can be completed in two to three weeks, but may take longer depending on the reason and whether it’s contested.

All evictions follow the same step-by-step process:

  1. The landlord gives the tenant notice to “cure” the issue or vacate.
  2. If the issue isn’t resolved in time, the landlord files a complaint with the county court.
  3. The court serves the tenant with a Summons & Complaint.
  4. The tenant can contest. If they don’t, the landlord files a motion to obtain a Judgment.
  5. If the court grants it, they’ll post a Writ of Possession at the property.
  6. Finally, the sheriff returns possession of the property to the landlord.
Questions? To chat with a Florida eviction attorney, Click here

Grounds for an Eviction in Florida

In Florida, a landlord cannot evict a tenant if they pay rent on time, uphold their responsibilities under Florida landlord tenant law, do not violate the terms of their lease and aren’t living at a property under foreclosure.

Evictions for Failure to Pay Rent

A landlord is allowed to evict a tenant for failing to pay rent on time.

In Florida, unless the lease states otherwise, rent is due at the beginning of each pay period and is considered late immediately after its due date. So if rent is due on the first of the month and it’s not paid in full by the second of the month, it is then considered late. There is no right to a legal grace period (i.e., five days) or exceptions for weekends or court-observed holidays.

Once rent is late, the landlord can begin the eviction process.

Evictions for No Lease or End of Lease

In Florida, a landlord can end a tenancy at any time if there is no written lease in place or if the lease term has ended (“Tenancy at Will”), regardless of whether rent has been paid on time.

Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant remains at the property, the landlord can move forward with the eviction process.

To legally end a tenancy, the landlord must first give proper notice to move out. The amount of notice varies based on how often rent is paid:

  • Monthly – if rent is paid on a month-to-month basis (most common), a landlord must give 15 days’ notice.
  • Weekly – if rent is paid on a week-to-week basis, a landlord must give 7 days’ notice.
  • Quarterly – if rent is paid on a quarter-to-quarter basis (every 3 months), a landlord must give 30 days’ notice.
  • Yearly – if rent is paid on a year-to-year basis, a landlord must give 60 days’ notice.

Evictions for Foreclosures 

If a rental property is foreclosed upon, and the tenancy will not continue, the new owner must provide the tenant with a 30 days’ written notice. The tenant has the right to stay at the property 30 days after the new owner provides them with notice. If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period, the new owner may proceed with an eviction action.

Evictions for Violation of Lease or Responsibilities

A tenant can be evicted in Florida if they violate the terms of their lease agreement or if they don’t uphold their responsibilities under Florida Landlord Tenant Law.

These violations are split into two categories:

  • Curable Violations – for more minor offenses, the tenant is given an opportunity to fix (“cure”) the issue.
    • Examples include having unauthorized pets, guests or vehicles at the premises, parking in an unauthorized area, and not maintaining a certain level of cleanliness for the property.
  • Incurable Violations – for more serious offenses, the tenant doesn’t get a chance to fix it first.
    • Examples include excessive damage, destruction, or misuse of the rental property, using the property for illegal activity or repeated violations*.

* – If a tenant commits the same violation within a 12-month period (regardless of its severity), the landlord does not have to offer the tenant a second opportunity to remedy the situation.

Illegal Landlord Retaliatory Evictions

It is illegal for a landlord to evict in response to a tenant exercising a legally protected right. These tenant’s 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.
  • Withholding rent.

Landlord retaliatory conduct includes:

  • Interrupting any utility service (i.e., water, electricity, heat, etc.) that the tenant is entitled to.
  • Preventing reasonable access to the property (i.e., changing the locks).
  • Recovering possession from the property.

Consequences of Illegal Evictions

Retaliatory conduct is considered as a “self-help” eviction and is illegal in Florida. Landlords who are found guilty of retaliation can be sued by their tenants. Landlords can be liable for actual damages and attorney’s fees or three month’s rent, whichever amount is greater. Tenants may also seek additional remedies.

Landlords must have legal reason to pursue an eviction action and cannot terminate a lease agreement without cause. In Florida, landlords must win the eviction lawsuit to legally remove a tenant.

Removing a Squatter

If the individual occupying the property does not have a lease (or verbal agreement) with the landlord and no history of paying rent, they do not have a landlord/tenant relationship, and as a result, the process for their removal is different.

Click here to learn more about the differences in the legal processes for removing tenants and squatters in Florida.

Step 1: Notice is Posted

Each reason for eviction has its own type of eviction notice form:

  • 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit – for failing to pay rent.
  • 7/15/30/60 Day Notice to Quit – for no lease / end of the lease. Amount of notice varies based on how often rent is paid.
  • 30-Day Notice to Quit – for a rental property that is foreclosed upon.
  • 7-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate – for fixable (“curable”) violations (i.e., noise, unauthorized pets, etc.).
  • 7-Day Unconditional Quit Notice – for incurable violations (i.e., illegal activity, damage to the property, etc.).

To fill out, download and print any of the above forms, click here.

The notice must be served to the tenant by one of the following methods:

  1. The landlord can hand deliver the notice to the tenant.
  2. The landlord can mail a copy of the notice via regular mail, certified mail or registered mail.
  3. The landlord may leave the notice in a conspicuous place (i.e., on the front door of the premises).

Once proper notice is posted, the tenant has that number of days (not counting weekends or holidays for nonpayment of rent) to pay the unpaid amount, cure the issue and/or vacate the premises. If they don’t, the landlord may proceed with the next step of the eviction process.

Questions? To chat with a Florida eviction attorney, Click here

Step 2: Complaint is Filed

If the notice period ends and the tenant remains on the property, the next step in the eviction process requires the landlord to file a complaint with the court of the applicable county in Florida. In most counties, this costs around $185 in filing fees and an additional $10 per tenant for each summons that will be issued.

The complaint should include the following information:

  • Landlord and tenant names.
  • The county where the property is located.
  • The rental property address.
  • The grounds for eviction (i.e., nonpayment of rent, lease violation, etc.).
  • When notice was served.

Additionally, if applicable, a copy of the lease agreement should be attached to the complaint.

After being notarized by the county clerk, the summons and complaint is given to a process server or county sheriff to serve each tenant specified.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.comApproximately 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: Summons and Complaint are Served

Once the process server (i.e., a sheriff) has delivered the tenant with a copy of the complaint, the tenant may choose to respond to (“contest”) the complaint, which must be done in writing and filed with the clerk of court within five days. A copy of the tenant’s response will be sent to the landlord.

If the tenant chooses to fight and challenge the eviction, the process can take much longer and can include a number of additional steps (i.e., the judge might order for both parties to appear at a hearing). To challenge the eviction the tenant should be prepared to write down the reasons why he or she shouldn’t be forced to move out. The answers should be given both the Court Clerk and the landlord.

If the tenant does not choose to fight the eviction, the process will proceed via the steps below.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.comFive 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: Motion to Obtain Judgment is Filed

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 but if the tenant fails to show 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.
  • 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.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.comApproximately 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: Writ of Possession is Posted

The Writ of Possession is the tenant’s final notice to leave and allows them the opportunity to remove their belongings before the sheriff returns to the property.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com24 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: Possession of Property is Returned

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, they 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.

Court Forms & Fees

To file an eviction lawsuit with the court, there are certain forms and documents that you may need to provide to the Court Clerk. As each county is different, please check with your local court for the required documents. Generally, the following documents are needed:

Document Number of Copies for One Tenant Number of Copies for Two Tenants
Eviction Notice 3 Copies 5 Copies
Written Lease Agreement 3 Copies 5 Copies
Complaint (Florida Bar Form 5, 5a, or 6) 1 Original, 2 Copies 1 Original, 4 Copies
Summons (Florida Bar Form 7 or 8) 1 Original, 2 Copies 1 Original, 4 Copies
Motion for Default Judgement/ Motion for Final Judgement 1 Original 1 Original
Writ of Possession (Florida Bar Form 11) 1 Original, 2 Copies 1 Original, 2 Copies

Filing fees may vary in each county, please check with your local court to verify the fee. Most Florida court fees are as follows:

Service Filing Fee
Filing Fee for Eviction $185
Sheriff’s Service for Summons $30- $50 per tenant
Issuing a Summons $10
Writ of Possession $90 -$115

Florida Eviction Process Timeline

Below is a summary of the aspects outside of the landlord’s control that dictate the amount of time it takes to evict a tenant in Florida. It does not account for the additional legal steps if the eviction is contested by the tenant.

Additionally, some estimates may not account for a high degree of variability or days when public officials aren’t working (such as weekends or legal holidays).

  1. Initial Notice Period – Between 3 to 15 days, depending on the reason and notice type.
  2. Issuing and Posting of Summons and Complaint – Approximately four to five days.
  3. Tenant Response Period – Five business days.
  4. Court Ruling on the Eviction and Posting of Writ of Possession – ~Five days.
  5. Return of Possession – At least 24 hours.
Questions? To chat with a Florida eviction attorney, Click here

Additional Information

Tenant’s Defenses for Challenging an Eviction Lawsuit. A tenant may have a legal defense to delay or dismiss an eviction. Below are common defenses:

  • The landlord has shut off essential services such as electricity, water, changing the door locks, etc. These “self-help” eviction procedures are prohibited practices and the landlord may be found to pay the tenant for damages worth up to three months’ rent.
  • There is evidence that the landlord has shown discrimination towards the tenant.
  • If the tenant has complained to the landlord or a government agency regarding any health or building codes and the landlord has ignored the request to fix the problem, a tenant could use retaliation as a defense.
  • If the eviction notice has errors. It is important to note that this might not stop an eviction case but will give the tenant more time to live in the rental unit.
  • The landlord falsely accuses the tenant of a violation.
  • The landlord has failed to maintain the rental unit and did not comply with the duties and obligations of being a Florida landlord.

Flowchart of Florida Eviction Process

Florida Eviction Process Timeline Flowchart on iPropertyManagement.com

For additional questions about the eviction process in Florida, please refer to the official state legislature, Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 83.5683.57 & 715.10-715.111, for more information.