Though it is possible for a landlord to evict a tenant without an attorney, many landlords find it easier and more economical to hire a law firm like us to handle the process. It certainly saves many trips to the courthouse. We will help you decide whether it makes sense to pursue a claim for damages. We will explain the process to tenants, who may be angry and confused. If hearings before a judge are required, we are prepared to handle them for you.
Though it is possible to pursue an eviction without an attorney, did you know that Florida law has a “loser pays” statute concerning evictions? What this means is that if you make a mistake trying to evict a non-paying tenant and you lose the case, not only will your tenant get to stay in your house even longer without paying rent, you may be on the hook for paying thousands to your tenant’s lawyer!
We also represent tenants in disputes over evictions and security deposits. If you are our client, we will do our best to make sure that your landlord follows the rules and treats you fairly.
We are proud to represent landlords and tenants in eviction cases in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties.
This is a summary of the steps required to evict a residential tenant in Florida, if the tenant does not contest the eviction. The whole process can take 3-5 weeks.
Step 1: Serve the tenant with a “3-Day Notice.”
The 3-Day Notice is used when a tenant fails to pay rent as required under the rental agreement. The notice may be mailed or hand delivered to the rental unit. If the tenant is not present at the rental unit, the landlord may post the 3-Day Notice at the rental unit.
If the tenant fails to pay after three days pass from the time of the notice, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement and proceed with eviction. The three days don’t include Saturday, Sunday, or legal holidays.
If the tenant is current on rent, but the landlord wants to evict the tenant because he or she has violated some provision of the rental agreement, the landlord generally is required to deliver a notice and give the tenant seven days to correct the noncompliance.
Step 2: Decide if you want to sue for eviction only, or for eviction and damages.
Once a case is filed with the court, it can have two parts. The first part is for the eviction, which means that the court will order the tenant to leave the landlord’s property. The second part is for damages, which means that the landlord can recover money for things like back rent and late fees. It may be a good idea to sue for damages, but generally only if the tenant has the ability to pay. Suing for damages requires that a second summons be served on the tenant (an extra $30-$40). Also, suing for damages might increase the likelihood that the tenant will contest the eviction — meaning that it could take longer before the court orders the tenant out of the rental unit and the landlord is able to re-rent the unit.
Step 3: File a Complaint with the County Court Clerk
The Complaint should describe the rental unit. The Complaint should explain why the landlord is entitled to terminate the tenant’s lease. The Complaint should include a copy of any written lease agreement and a copy of the 3-Day Notice from Step 1. The Clerk will assign a judge to the case. In Orange County, the filing fee is $185.
Step 4: File a Proposed Summons with the County Court
After a few days, the Court will issue the Summons to be served on the tenant. The Clerk charges $10 for this service in Orange County.
Step 5: Serve the Summons
Once the summons is issued by the court, the Summons and Complaint must be served on the tenant by the County Sheriff or by a certified process server. The cost is $30-$40.
Step 6: Wait
From the time of service, the tenant has five days to answer the Complaint, not including Saturday, Sunday, or legal holidays. If the case includes a suit for damages, there is a separate 20-day waiting period for that part of the case.
Step 7: Clerk’s Default
If the tenant doesn’t contest the eviction case by filing an Answer with the court, then the landlord is entitled to a Default, which is entered by the Clerk of Court. It usually takes 3-4 days for the Clerk to issue a default.
Step 8: Default Judgment
Once the Clerk issues a Default, the landlord will ask the judge to issue a Default Judgment. Depending on the judge’s schedule, this can take 2-3 days.
Step 9: Ask the Clerk to issue a Writ of Possession
Once the judge issues the Default Judgment, the landlord will ask the Clerk of Courts to issue a Writ of Possession. This can take 3-4 days.
Step 10: Serve the Writ
Once the Writ of Possession has been issued, the landlord will have the Sheriff serve it on the tenant. In Orange County, the Sheriff collects a $90 fee for this service.
Step 11: Wait 24 Hours
24 hours after the Writ is posted, the tenant must vacate the rental unit. Typically, a deputy will call the landlord and set up a meeting time to make sure that the tenant has left and that the tenant has removed all of his or her property from the premises.
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