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Web Articles
      The Florida Statutory Procedure for
                        Evicting Tenants

Residential Tenants

A landlord of residential property or dwelling units whose tenant
has failed to pay their rent in accordance with the terms of the
lease agreement and who has not waived their right to evict the
tenant begins the process of evicting their tenant for such non-
payment of rent by providing the tenant with a written notice
that demands either the payment of the unpaid rent or that the
tenant vacate the leased premises and possession of the
leased premises be delivered to the landlord.  The written
notice allows three days from the date the written notice is
served upon the tenant, exclusive of holidays and weekends for
which there are numerous rules, for the past due rent to be
paid to the landlord or for the tenant to vacate the leased
premises.  The notice should be delivered to the tenant in such
a manner as to provide written evidence that the notice was in
fact received by the tenant.  There are statutory provisions
which address the situation of a residential tenant that can not
be located and therefore can not be personally provided with
the written notice, but significant efforts should be made to
attempt to locate the tenant and provide them with the notice
directly because mailing the notice to the tenant will extend the
time the tenant has to respond to the notice.

If, in response to the written notice, the tenant does not pay
landlord all of the rent that is due and payable then the landlord
may terminate the lease agreement and the tenant will either
surrender the leased premises to the landlord or continue to
occupy the leased premises.

If the tenant continues to occupy the leased premises after the
landlord has terminated the lease then the landlord must bring
suit to evict the tenant to recover possession of the premises.  
It is in county courts that a complaint for the  eviction of a
residential tenant will be filed and it is within the county courts
that such cases are normally heard.  Fortunately Florida
statutes allow for summary proceedings for eviction matters
therefore the landlord is able to somewhat speed the removal
of the tenant because such summary proceedings have shorter
time frames and deadlines than typical county civil proceedings.

When a complaint to evict a tenant has been filed by a landlord
and when so ordered by the court, usually at the request of the
landlord, the tenant must pay into the registry of the court in
which the case has been filed the rent that is claimed due and
payable in the complaint or, if the amount of rent due and
payable is contested, the amount of rent determined by the
court.  Then, throughout the pendency of the eviction case, the
tenant must continue to pay into the registry of the court any
rent that accrues.  If the tenant fails to pay the rent into the
court registry after being ordered to do so by the court, the
tenant will be deemed to have waived all of their defenses to
the allegations included in the complaint.  In such event, the
tenant will have no defenses against the claims included in the
complaint and the landlord will be entitled to an immediate order
from the court granting the remedies requested in the complaint
and possession of the leased premises would be given to the
landlord without further notice or additional hearings.

If the tenant does not waive their defenses to the allegations
included in the complaint then the case will continue to trial.  If
the court rules in favor of the landlord then a judgment will be
entered that releases the rent from the court registry to the
landlord, removes the tenant from the leased premises, and
delivers possession of the premises to the landlord.  Where
demanded in the complaint and where appropriate, the court
may also enter a monetary judgment in favor of the residential
landlord which may include costs, damages, and attorney’s fees.

After a judgment has been entered in favor of the residential
landlord, the clerk of court shall issue a writ to the local sheriff
which orders the sheriff to put the landlord in possession of the
leased premises.  Once possession has been recovered by the
landlord, they can request that the sheriff remain at the
property while the locks are changed.  After being put in
possession of the leased premises, the landlord or their agent
may remove the personal property of the residential tenant
without liability for any damage suffered by such personal
property.  A request can also be made that the sheriff remain at
the leased premises while the personal property is removed.

If the court, however, rules in favor of the tenant then a
judgment will be entered that directs the court registry to
release the rent to the designated party or parties, dismisses
the complaint, and leaves the tenant in possession of the
leased premises.  In such an event, the tenant may also be
awarded costs, damages, and attorney’s fees.

A residential landlord must be aware that the acceptance of
past due rent or past due charges could result in the landlord
waiving their right to evict the tenant, therefore landlords must
be cognizant of this if they accept any funds from the tenant.

Certainly there are reasons other than the failure of the tenant
to pay rent which may compel the landlord to evict a tenant,
such as breach of other terms of the lease agreement or
causing damage to the leased premises. There are similar
statutory procedures for a residential landlord to evict a tenant
for such breaches of the lease agreement.

Following a successful eviction proceeding brought by a
residential landlord or upon the tenant surrendering possession
of the leased premises to the landlord, the residential landlord
must be cognizant of the legal manner in which they retake
possession of the leased premises.  Retaking possession of the
leased premises in certain manners can obligate the former
tenant to continue to be responsible for paying shortfalls in rent
if future tenants of the leased space lease the premises for a
rental amount that is less than the amount that was to be paid
by the former tenant.  While other manners of retaking
possession of the leased premises may release the former
tenant from any future obligations.

                                                           Return to Florida Statutory Procedure
                                                           for Evicting Tenants
Law Office of
Craig W. Little, P.A.