Eviction isn’t easy—that goes for both tenants and landlords. If you’re the one doing the evicting, you might face difficult situations like uncommunicative or argumentative tenants. Even if you’re selling your property (and you’re legally required to have all tenants evacuate), these are people’s homes. This means that, for an amicable resolution, the situation requires forethought and healthy communication.
As leaders of property management in all Florida, from Orlando property management to property management in Jacksonville, FL, we’re here to offer guidance for your rental property in Florida. To help prepare you, this guide will take you through the Florida eviction process step-by-step with best practices to ensure a smooth transition.
The Florida Eviction Process
Knowing how to evict a tenant in Florida involves considering your interests and the tenant’s rights. Thus, this process will break down into three main parts:
- Part 1: Giving Notice to the Tenant
- Part 2: Filing the Eviction with the Florida Courts
- Part 3: Actions to Take After the Tenant is Served
By approaching the situation with consideration and respect, you can find a resolution that’s acceptable for both parties.
Part 1: Giving Notice to the Tenant
The first step in the eviction process is giving notice to your tenant. But no eviction situation is alike. Which is why different eviction scenarios require a specific kind of notice. These notices include:
- 3-Day Notice – The eviction notice you are required to send when rent goes unpaid.
- 7-Day Notice With Cure – If there is a solvable issue with your tenant, you can submit a 7-Day Notice With Cure.
- 7-Day Notice Without Cure – If your tenant has caused damages to your property or hasn’t complied with the rental agreement, you can submit a 7-Day Notice Without Cure.
- 15-Day Notice – If your tenant pays rent month-to-month and you simply want to reclaim access to your property, you can file a 15-Day Notice.
Read on for more details about the different kinds of notices, the situations they are used for, and which one would be best for your case:
If your tenant hasn’t paid rent, you are required to give a 3-Day Eviction Notice. This notice states that unless the full amount of delinquent rent due is paid, the landlord will file an official complaint with the Clerk’s Office for eviction. The amount must be paid within three days from the date of the notice, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays.
Tip: Keep in mind that there may be unforeseen circumstances that your tenant may be in that have left them unable to pay rent on time. In this case, be wary of this. Communicate with your tenants and if you can be flexible, then that may lead to a more appreciated outcome and your tenants may be extremely grateful.
7-Day Notice With Cure
If the issue you’re having with the tenant can be remedied, you’re required to submit a 7-Day Notice With Cure. An issue that can be remedied may include:
- Unauthorized pets
- Guests who don’t have permission to be in the dwelling
- Tenants parking where they shouldn’t
The 7-Day Notice With Cure allows the tenant a full week to address the problem brought up by the landlord. If the tenant fixes the issue within seven days, they are allowed to stay. If not, then the landlord (or his or her attorney) can file a complaint for eviction after the seven days are up.
Tip: Think of the 7-Day Notice with Cure as an ultimatum, stating “fix this or you have to leave.” But if the situation can be fixed, use the 7-Day Notice With Cure as a fallback rather than your first move.
First, speak to your tenant one-on-one before submitting an eviction notice. A friendly conversation about a situation that can be solved will have a more positive outcome for your property and for your tenant.
7-Day Notice Without Cure
If the tenant situation is beyond fixing, submit a 7-day Notice Without Cure. The 7-Day Notice Without Cure tells the tenant that the rental agreement is terminated and that the landlord will no longer be accepting rent. Here’s what those situations might look like:
- The tenant seriously damaged or destroyed property
- The tenant has misused the property
- The tenant has caused an unreasonable disturbance
- Any other action that goes against the terms of the rental agreement
When submitting a 7-Day Notice Without Cure, be sure to name the reason for eviction.
If you want to reclaim your property for any reason not mentioned above and the tenant pays rent on a month-to-month basis, then you must submit a 15-Day Notice. This will give your tenant time to pack up and move.
Tip: You are legally required to give fifteen days notice at a minimum. But for your tenant, fifteen days isn’t a lot of time to drop everything and find a new place to live. If your tenant has been responsible and reliable, try to work with them to find a move date that works for both of you. Chances are, the more flexible you are, the happier you both will be with the outcome.
Important Notes About Giving Notice
Once you’ve decided which notice applies to your situation, be careful how you proceed. Be sure to keep in mind these important aspects of giving notice:
- What to Include in the Eviction Notice – Whichever eviction notice fits your circumstances, be sure to include:
- The tenant’s name and address
- The landlord’s name and contact information
- The amount due and its due date (if applicable)
- The date the notice was written
- The reason for eviction (if applicable)
You can find templated eviction notices online to check all the necessary boxes.
- Make Three Copies – You’ll need to make three copies of the original eviction notice—one for your tenant and two for the Clerk’s Office should you have to file for eviction.
- Mailed Eviction Notices – If you choose to mail your eviction notice, the tenant is legally allowed to respond by mail. If that’s the case, Florida law gives tenants additional time to respond. That means you have to add an additional five days to whichever notice you choose, and the tenant is allowed five additional days for their mailed response to arrive.
For example, in the case of a 3-Day Eviction Notice, the tenant will have a total of 13 days to pay rent. Five days for the notice to arrive, three days to pay the rent, and five days to respond by mail. For a 7-Day Eviction Notice, the tenant will have 17 days, and so on.
- Contesting an Eviction – If a tenant chooses to contest an eviction notice of any kind, the landlord or any representative of the landlord (such as a property manager) can take no further action. The issue has become an official legal dispute to be resolved within the courts, and all further activity must be handled by the landlord or the landlord’s attorney.
Part 2: Filing the Eviction with the Florida Courts
The best-case scenario is that your tenant pays their rent, moves, or remedies an issue with the property. But if the tenant does not comply with the requests in your notice within the designated time frame, it’s time to file a Complaint for Eviction with the Florida Clerk’s Office.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Copies of the Eviction Notice – The court requires two copies of the original eviction notice you sent to your tenant.
- Filing Fee – A filing fee comes up to about $185 plus an extra $10 to issue summons to the tenant.
- Service Fee – If the judge rules in your favor, the Sheriff’s Office will serve the tenant with the eviction. In this case, you’ll need to pay the Sheriff’s Office $40 for each tenant named in your complaint.
From there, the courts serve the tenants with notice of eviction.
Part 3: Actions to Take After the Tenant is Served
The tenant has five business days to respond after they are served. Depending on their response, the eviction process can go a few different ways:
- Tenant Reply – If the tenant writes to the court detailing why they should not have to move and pays the amount of rent due to the registry of the court, then the issue may result in an eviction hearing before a judge. The judge will then rule on the eviction case.
- Tenant Moves – If the tenant complies with the eviction and moves, then the landlord must notify the Clerk’s Office immediately. The eviction case will then be closed. If the tenant still owes rent, the case may continue to a hearing before a judge.
- No Response – If the tenant does not respond in the allotted time, you are allowed to file for a Motion for Default. Here’s what that process looks like:
- File a Motion for Default and pay the Sheriff’s service fee of $40.00.
- The motion is then forwarded to a judge.
- The judge signs the motion and the landlord is entitled to a Writ of Possession.
- The Clerk sends the Writ of Possession to the Sheriff’s Office.
- The Sheriff’s Office serves the tenant the Writ of Possession and the tenant has 24 hours to vacate the unit.
Eviction Best Practices
When a landlord is considering eviction, it usually means a tenant situation has become disappointing. But it can be even more so for the tenant. Your property has become someone’s home, where they relax after a long day, celebrate their accomplishments, and feel safe. Choosing to take that away from someone can be devastating. If you do decide to evict, keep these best practices in mind:
- Consider the Tenant’s Circumstances – Life can throw curveballs at everyone. If the tenant is going through a hard time due to financial, medical, or personal hardship, consider their situation. Before evicting a tenant, try to work with them to find a solution or offer a grace period.
- Communicate Clearly – A lack of open communication is the bane of the tenant-landlord relationship. Be clear about your expectations in the lease agreement and in conversations about rent payment or property rules.
- Be Kind – Kindness can make all the difference in difficult situations and is one of our best tips to offer when it comes to how to be a good landlord. Act first with kindness and you’ll be surprised at the impact you can make in your tenants’ lives.
What NOT to Do During the Tenant Eviction Process
Needing to evict a tenant may leave you feeling a bit desperate. But there are things that you should never do to expedite an eviction.
- Shutting off any utilities
- Changing or removing locks to the premises
- Removing doors or windows
- Take away property, yours or the tenants
- Making threats
All of the actions above are forbidden by law and are a complete violation of a tenant’s rights. Landlords who use illegal means to force a tenant out may have to pay a tenant’s rent for up to three months. Keep your behavior above reproach and you won’t have to pay for rash actions later.
How to Avoid Evictions
Evictions are frustrating, time-consuming, and exhausting. But with the right precautions, they can be avoided.
- Pre-Screening Tenants – Everyone knows good tenants are hard to find. Use pre-screening methods like landlord references, credit checks, professional references, and credit reports to ensure applicants will be responsible. Or, hire a third-party property management company, like Great Jones, with extensive resources to help you find the right fit.
- Partial Rent Agreements – Put a partial rent policy in your rental agreement. That way, if a financial hardship comes your tenant’s way, you can accept partial rent with added protections for future payments.
- Create an Emergency Fund – In uncertain times, it’s always helpful to have a backup fund to pay your property’s expenses. If a tenant can’t pay the rent or if it takes too long to fill a space, you can use your emergency fund as a safety net. It will also give you a little more flexibility to be kind to tenants undergoing tough circumstances.
Making the Decision
Evictions aren’t easy, but at the end of the day, you have to make the right choice for yourself and your financial future. So long as you start and finish the eviction process with respect for the law, yourself, and your tenant, you’ll find the solution that’s right for you. If you have a rental property in Florida, or plan to invest in Florida real estate for rentals, use this guide as a resource to aid you through evictions.
The best way to avoid eviction? Finding a great tenant. But time can be a scarce resource. Instead, reach out to Great Jones to help find the right tenant for you. Great Jones’ extensive screening process works—we have the 0% eviction rate to prove it. With property management services in Tampa, FL to Raleigh-Durham, NC, contact us today to help you find a reliable tenant for the long run so you never have to deal with evictions or a vacancy property. Our property management experts are here to make your life as a property owner easier.