Residential Evictions

Residential evictions can be time consuming and costly if done incorrectly.  Though "self-help" forms are usually available at most Clerk of the Courts, evictions can be tricking depending on who owns the property, what kind of lease is involved, and even who the Judge is in particular instances.  I have been representing landlord and property management companies in the eviction process since 1997.  I can help you with your eviction needs, whether it is a written or oral lease, whether the owner is a company or an individual, and whether the eviction is for non-payment of rent or none compliance with a lease provision.  Below is a quick highlight of the process for non-payment of rent.  An eviction for none-oompliance is a bit different (including the appropriate notice of the provision violation), but generally the process is the same - Notice, Complaint, Service of Summons/Complaint, Judgment and Service of the Writ.


STEP ONE - The 3 Day  Notice

It sounds easy enough, you must serve your tenant with a 3 Day Notice to pay or vacate.  However, despite having forms from the Clerk of the Courts or the Florida Bar, it may not be sufficient to some judges.  That means if the 3 Day Notice is insufficient for any reason, your eviction complaint could be tossed out.  Most importantly you have to properly calculate the 3 days in which the tenant has to pay.  This can be a great area of problems for landlords who do not deal with evictions on a daily basis.

STEP TWO - The Eviction Complaint

After the 3 day notice has expired, the next step is to file an eviction complaint.  In most instances this will be a simple one count complaint for possession, though you could include a second count for damages and/or breach of contract as well.  This, however, could potentially complicate and delay the proceedings.  Then, even assuming you get a judgment for damages, you are now faced the daunting task of trying to collect.  So the questions you have to ask is if they did not have money to pay the rent, do you think they are going to have the money or assets to collect the judgment on?  Probably not, but it is something to consider when filing the complaint for eviction.

STEP THREE - The Summons 

Now that the complaint for eviction is filed, you now must proeprly serve the tenant with the same.  This can be done via the Sheriff's office or a private service.  It is worth nothing that that if service has been accomplished by posting, as the tenant was unavailable for personal service, you will be required to furnish a copy of the complaint, summons,  certificate of mailing and pre-paid addressed envelope to the Clerk of the Court.  I usually recommend doing this when the Complaint is filed in case personal service is not obtained.  That way, the 5 days for mailing of the same has already begun.

Now the waiting game begins.  The tenant has 5 days to file an answer, pay the amount on the three day notice to the Registry at the Clerk of the Court and/or file the appropriate Motion to Determine Amount of rent due.  If no answer or motion is filed, and/or no deposit made, you can then a default entered into by the Clerk of the Court.

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STEP FOUR– Final Judgment/Writ of Possession

Now that the Clerk has entered a default, your next step is to get the Judge assigned to issue a final judgment, ordering the Clerk to issue the Writ of Possession, so that the same may then be sent out for service by the Sheriff’s office only.  The Courts are supposed to “advance the cause on the docket” meaning once the appropriate documents, Motion and Judgment is filed, the file is supposed to be then reviewed by the Judge.  Sometimes, however, it may take an ex parte hearing to expedite the judgment and issuance of the Writ of Possession.  You should make note that a Non-Military Affidavit needs to be completed and filed as well prior to the Judgment being entered into.


STEP FIVE– Meeting the Sheriff

After the final judgment of possession has been entered and the Clerk issues the Writ for Possession, the same gets sent to the Sheriff’s office, along with the appropriate check, for service of process.  You will likely be contacted within a week to ten days to meet an officer at the property for service of the same and regain possession of the property.


The reality is, the process can be longer than expected for most landlords.  Self-help tactics will only land a landlord in hot water and should not be undertaken under any circumstances.  The Florida law has a process in place for the proper eviction of a tenant who is not paying rent and/or possibly is in violation of a contractual provision.  As such, it needs to be followed correctly or you could be liable for the tenants defense attorney’s fees in the event your case is dismissed for some reason.  That is why I encourage you seek legal assistance with your eviction needs.

To learn more about the eviction process and how I can assist you, or if you have specific questions regarding your current landlord/tenant situation, please contact my office for a free consultation in the Orlando area at 407-657-2525, or toll free at 1-888-581-2525, or send me an e-mail regarding your case.

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© Harvey Law, LLC 2012