Steps of the eviction process in Florida:
- Notice is posted to “cure” the issue or vacate.
- If uncured & tenant remains, complaint is filed.
- Summons & Complaint is served.
- If uncontested, motion is filed to obtain judgment.
- If granted, writ of possession is posted.
- Possession of property is returned to landlord.
Timeline. The process of evicting a tenant in Florida can be completed as quickly as two to three weeks for uncontested evictions for nonpayment of rent. If the eviction is contested by the tenant or if it’s for a reason other than nonpayment of rent, the process can take longer (read more).
In Florida, there are two types of violations that are grounds for eviction: incurable violations and curable violations. Each type of violation has their own procedures. An incurable violation means that there is no opportunity for the tenant to fix the violation (e.g. negligent and deliberate damage to the property). A curable violation means that the tenant may be given the opportunity to fix or “cure” the violation (e.g. failing to keep the premises clean and safe). Each eviction case is unique, below are the individual steps of the eviction process in Florida.
Step 1: Notice is Posted
Landlords in Florida can begin the eviction process for several reasons, including:
- Failure to Pay Rent – once rent is late, notice can be served to give the tenant the choice to pay before the process proceeds further.
- No Lease / End of Lease Term (Tenant at Will) – if there is no lease or the term of the lease has ended, the landlord does not need any additional reason to end the tenancy (with proper notice).
- Violation of the Lease Terms / Rental Agreement – if the tenant fails to uphold their responsibilities as a tenant, they may or may not be given the opportunity to fix (“cure”) the issue before the process proceeds further. It depends on the severity of the violation and whether or not it’s a repeat offense.
Eviction notices shall be written and include the following information.
- An eviction notice for a curable lease violation must include the following statement:
“You are hereby notified that (cite the noncompliance). Demand is hereby made that you remedy the noncompliance within 7 days of receipt of this notice or your lease shall be deemed terminated and you shall vacate the premises upon such termination. If this same conduct or conduct of a similar nature is repeated within 12 months, your tenancy is subject to termination without your being given an opportunity to cure the noncompliance.”
- An eviction notice for an incurable lease violation must include the following statement:
“You are advised that your lease is terminated effective immediately. You shall have 7 days from the delivery of this letter to vacate the premises. This action is taken because (cite the noncompliance).”
The notice may be served to the tenant by the following methods:
- The landlord can hand deliver the notice to the tenant;
- The landlord can mail a copy of the seven-day notice via regular mail, certified mail or registered mail; or
- The landlord may leave the notice in a conspicuous place (i.e. on the front door of the premises).
- Retaliatory Evictions. It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for complaining to the landlord or to the appropriate local or government agency regarding the property. It is also illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for joining, supporting, or organizing a tenant organization or union.
- Evicting 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 (read more).
Each possible ground has its own rules for how the process starts.
Eviction Process 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, if it’s not paid in full by the second of the month, it is considered late. There is no right to a legal grace period (i.e. five days) or exceptions for weekends or holidays.
Once rent is considered late, the landlord is allowed to provide a written 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit before proceeding further. This notice allows the tenant the ability to pay the unpaid amount in full within three business days (not including weekends or legal holidays) of when the notice is received.
If the tenant does not pay the rent due by the end of the notice period and remains on the property, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Eviction Process for No Lease / End of Lease
In the state of Florida, a landlord may evict a tenant at any time if there is no written lease in place or if the term of the lease has ended (“Tenancy at Will”) regardless of whether or not the rent has been paid in a timely fashion.
To do this, the landlord must first provide the tenant with a lease termination notice. The amount of notice a landlord is required to provide in order to end the tenancy is dependent upon the time interval in which rent is paid.
- Month-to-Month – If rent is paid on a month-to-month basis (most common), a landlord must provide the tenant with a 15-Day Notice to Quit.
- Week-to-Week – If rent is paid on a week-to-week basis, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 7-Day Notice to Quit.
- Quarter-to-Quarter – If rent is paid on a quarter-to-quarter basis (every 3 months), a landlord must provide the tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
- Year-to-Year – If rent is paid on a year-to-year basis, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 60-Day Notice to Quit.
If the tenant remains on the property after the lease has ended, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Eviction Process for Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement
A tenant can be evicted in Florida if they do not uphold their responsibilities under the lease agreement and their responsibilities as a tenant under Florida Landlord Tenant Law.
The tenant may commit a curable or incurable offense, for example, curable offenses include being too loud or not maintaining a certain level of cleanliness for the property. In these instances, the landlord is required to provide the tenant with a 7-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate. If a tenant commits the same violation within a 12-month period, the landlord does not have to offer the tenant the opportunity to remedy the situation a second time.
If the tenant commits an incurable offense, for example, excessive damage to the rental property, improper use the property (i.e. for illegal activity) or repeated violations, the landlord is allowed to send the tenant a written 7-Day Unconditional Quit Notice to move out.
If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period and doesn’t cure the violation, if allowed, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Step 2: Complaint is Filed
The next step in the eviction process required 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.
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.
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: Summons and Complaint is Served
Once the court has served 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. A copy of the tenant’s response will be sent to the landlord.
If the tenant chooses to fight 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).
If the tenant does not choose to fight 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: Motion to Obtain Judgment is Filed
If the tenant did not contest the eviction, the landlord may move forward with filing a motion to obtain a Judgment for Possession.
If the tenant did contest the eviction, the tenant may be required to pay the court the amount of any outstanding rent. If there is a disagreement over the amount of rent owed, the tenant may make a motion to the court to have the amount determined. If the tenant fails to show for the court date, the court will rule for the landlord.
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: 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.
24 hours. The tenant is allowed 24 hours before the sheriff has permission to return to the property, although 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.
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).
- Initial Notice Period – Between 3 to 15 days, depending on the reason and notice type.
- Issuing and Posting of Summons and Complaint – Approximately four to five days.
- Tenant Response Period – Five business days.
- Court Ruling on the Eviction and Posting of Writ of Possession – ~Five days.
- Return of Possession – At least 24 hours.
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