Evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent in Florida is a multi-step process. Florida Statute Section 83.56 is the controlling law in residential evictions. This article provides you with step by step instructions on how to evict your tenant and get possession of your real estate back in your hands!
THREE DAY NOTICE WHEN EVICTING A TENANT FOR NON-PAYMENT OF RENT IN FLORIDA
The first question to ask is why are you evicting your tenant? There are many reasons, but this article will focus only on evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent in Florida. A Three Day Notice is the first document you need to create and post on the tenant’s door. Use a process server to post this document to insure proper notice. This document is statute specific pursuant to Fl. Statute Section 83.56 and must state as follows:
“You are hereby notified that you are indebted to me in the sum of ___ dollars for the rent and use of the premises (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 , (year) .”
THE COMPLAINT WHEN EVICTING A TENANT FOR NON-PAYMENT OF RENT IN FLORIDA
Upon expiration of the three days, draft and file the Complaint for possession. It will take a couple of days to receive a case number. Upon receipt of a case number, file a Summons for each Defendant. In Miami, file a summons in English, Spanish and Creole. After the clerk certifies the Summons, serve it upon the tenant(s) with the Complaint.
Find a reputable process server to post the Complaint on the tenant’s door if the Complaint is for possession only or to execute personal service if the Complaint is also for rent monies due.
DEADLINE TO RESPOND TO COMPLAINT
If seeking possession only, the tenant has five days to respond to the Complaint. If seeking rent monies due, the tenant has 20 days to answer. This article will focus only on a one count complaint for possession when evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent in Florida.
While waiting for the five days for the tenant’s response, create a Non-Military Affidavit which is a verified document stating that the tenant is not an active member of the military. Make sure your client signs this affidavit and then file it with the clerk of courts.
Once the five days expires, if the tenant has not responded to the Complaint file a Clerk’s Default. Every jurisdiction differs so timing of the execution may take one day to a few days. If the tenant has filed a response but has not either a)put rent money due in the court registry or b)file a Motion to Determine Rent with the clerk, file the Clerk’s Default. It is not good enough just to file a response to a Complaint for possession. The tenant must either pay rent money in the court registry or file a Motion to Determine Rent. This is mandatory pursuant to statute.
After the clerk’s default is entered, file a Motion for Default Final Judgment for Possession with an attached Order for Possession. The county court judge presiding over the case will sign the order, if all steps explained above were taken and executed properly.
WRITS OF POSSESSION
Once the judge signs the Order granting the Motion for Final Default Judgment for Possession, file a Writ of Possession with the clerk along with a check for execution of the writ. The clerk certifies the writ then sends it to the local sheriff’s office for execution.
Oftentimes, eviction cases get delayed while awaiting sheriff’s execution of the writs. Normally the sheriff’s office has a backlog of writs to execute, sometimes a few weeks long. In order to avoid having to wait for the sheriff to physically remove the tenant, always send the tenant copies of the clerk’s default, the final judgment and writ of possession. In this way, the tenant will hopefully see that the inevitable is coming and may choose to leave on his or her own volition.
Always remember to draft an affidavit at the end of the case for attorney’s fees and costs. Florida Statute Section 83 allows for attorneys fees to the prevailing party.
ALWAYS USE AN ATTORNEY TO EVICT A TENANT FOR NON-PAYMENT OF RENT IN FLORIDA
Always use an attorney if you can for any legal process. It is better to be safe than sorry and avoid any mistakes that could cost you more rent. This calls true when evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent in Florida as well. Call our firm for a consultation.