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A Guide to the Eviction Process in Sarasota Florida

The state of Florida’s eviction law is favorable to landlords. In Florida, you must have legal cause in order to start the eviction process against your tenant. Legal grounds for eviction in Florida include nonpayment of rent, lease violations, and failure to move out after the end of the lease term.

You may be wondering how long does the eviction process take in Florida? Unlike other states where evictions can take months, the eviction process in Florida can be completed in as little as two to three weeks!

If you want to know how to evict someone in Florida, you can read the following overview of the eviction process in Florida.

Grounds for Evicting a Tenant in Florida

Nonpayment of Rent

Has your Florida tenant missed their rent payment? If so, you can evict them per Florida eviction laws. By default, rent is due on the date indicated in the lease agreement and becomes late the next day.

To begin this process, you must serve them a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit. If the tenant ignores your notice and continues to occupy the unit after the 3 days have passed, you can move on to the next step of the eviction process.

Lease Violations

Florida tenants have a responsibility to abide by all terms of the lease agreement. If they don’t, you will have legal grounds to evict them from your rental unit. Florida categorizes lease violations into two categories, incurable violations and curable violations.

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Curable violations are minor offenses. They include keeping an unauthorized pet, parking in an unauthorized area, or failing to clean the unit adequately.

In these cases, you can begin the eviction process by serving the tenant with a 7-day notice. If they fix the violation within 7 days, the eviction process halts.

However, if they don’t remedy the issues within a week of receiving your notice, or repeat the same violation within a 12-month period you can move to an appropriate court and file an eviction lawsuit.

For serious offenses, you don’t have to give the tenant an opportunity to fix the issue they’ve caused. Examples of incurable violations include conducting illegal activity on the property and causing excessive property damage. 

After committing these kinds of violations, the tenant will have a maximum of 7 days to vacate the premises. If they don’t, you can move to court and file an eviction lawsuit.

How to Serve a Florida Eviction Notice

There are specific ways that a Florida landlord can serve an eviction notice to their tenant.

If you don’t follow these protocols, your tenant can provide proof that the notice wasn’t served appropriately as a defense in court against their eviction. While this won’t fully stop the eviction process, it will prolong it and prevent you from placing a high-quality renter on your property.

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So, what is the proper way to serve a tenant with an eviction notice in Florida? You can deliver an eviction notice in one of three ways.

You can either deliver the notice to the tenant in person mail a copy of the notice to the tenant via either regular mail, registered mail, or certified mail, or you can leave a copy of it on the tenant’s front door, or in any other conspicuous place on the property.

Be sure to keep a signed copy of the notice you provide to your tenant as proof of service.

Filing a Lawsuit in Court

This is the next step of the eviction process. Filing a lawsuit in court involves the landlord filing a complaint in the appropriate county court. We recommend using an e-filing portal as it’s the most convenient way to file a lawsuit.

Before you file your lawsuit be sure your complaint contains your name, your tenant’s name, the rental property address and the legal grounds for the eviction.

After your complaint has been notarized by a county clerk, a process server will serve your complaint to the tenant. In most cases, the process server is usually the county sheriff or their deputy.

The typical fee for filing a complaint is around $180. You will also need to pay an additional $10 for every summons you serve.

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Tenants in Florida have a right to respond to the complaint they have been served with. The response must be in writing and they will need to file it with the court’s clerk within 5 days of receiving the complaint. 

In order to contest an eviction, a tenant must have a legally justified reason, such as:

  • The landlord attempted to evict them using self-help methods, such as removing the tenant’s belongings from the unit.
  • The tenant fixed their curable violation but the landlord still continued with the eviction process.
  • The eviction was filed for discriminatory reasons.
  • The landlord decided to evict the tenant as retaliation for tenant exercising one of their legal rights.
  • The eviction charges were exaggerated or false.
  • The eviction notice had substantial errors, such as an omitted notice period.

If the tenant doesn’t contest their eviction, the process continues as follows.

Filing a Default Judgment

If the tenant doesn’t fight the eviction, your next step is filing a default judgment. This will help you obtain a Judgment for Possession. Whether or not the tenant contested their eviction, if the ruling is in your favor, the court will subsequently issue a Writ of Possession.

Removing the Tenant

In Florida, it’s the sheriff’s responsibility to serve a Writ of Possession to a tenant. This legal document gives the sheriff the authority to forcefully remove a tenant from the rental unit. 

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In Florida, a Writ of Possession gives the tenant a maximum of 24 hours to vacate the property on their own. If they don’t, the sheriff will return and forcefully remove them.

Bottom Line

Knowing the proper eviction processes is critical to the success of every Florida landlord! For expert help in matters regarding eviction laws in Florida, security deposit laws or Florida Landlord-Tenant Law in general, look no further than Stringer Management

We’re an experienced and professional property management company in Sarasota. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our comprehensive property management services!

Disclaimer: This content isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice from a qualified attorney. Laws change and this content may not be updated at the time of your reading.

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