What is the tenant eviction process in Florida?


Attorney Tom Olsen: My guest today is attorney Rob Solomon and he is a landlord attorney in our office, and Rob, can you tell us quickly what the landlord tenant eviction process here in Florida is?

Attorney Rob Solomon: Okay, so these always start with various types of notices in the most- the one that’s most typically used is a 3-Day Notice, when somebody fails to pay the rent, so before you start thinking about doing an eviction, you have to give the proper notice. When there’s a failure to pay rent you must serve a 3-Day Notice. That’s a notice that tells the tenant, “You have- within this period of time you must pay up or return possession of the premises to me” and you actually list how much money is owed and where you pay it.

Once that’s done if the landlord hasn’t been paid than the actual legal litigation process begins by a landlord filing a complaint in the court of the county in which the premises are located and making a claim to regain possession. An eviction lawsuit. It may also contain a Count II, which is a claim for damages. This gets served on- once a summon is issued by the court to get served on the defendant, which is the tenant, and the tenant has five days relative to the eviction part of the claim to give an answer and to put the rent in the court registry.

Failure to do either of those things would put the landlord in a position to walk into court without the tenant and ask for a default judgement either from the clerk or from the judge and then to get a final judgement of eviction, and then a writ of possession, which is the holy grail of evictions. It’s the document that the sheriff serves that says to the tenant, “We’re coming by in 24 hours to remove you and your- and your items, your personal possessions to the curb.”

That’s the process when, depending on what the tenant does and there are many routes that the tenant could take, that process could literally be done in the space of two or three weeks.

Attorney Tom Olsen: And that’s pretty fast. Hey, Rob, will the clerks assist a layman landlord? Will they give them the forms to do their own eviction?

Attorney Rob Solomon: So you actually can buy these forms at any circuit court in your county. The problem is- it’s very tempting to want to do this, because now you have the forms and the court issued them, so what could go wrong? Except that none of the forms are filled in and some of the filling-ins that you need to do, particularly with 3-Day Notices, are full of pitfalls, that would mean that your case could ultimately get dismissed and anyhow even if they didn’t have pitfalls, you wouldn’t know where and how to file these forms, who to bring them to, the chronology of things you’re supposed to do. So it’s possible for a landlord to learn how to do this if they are of a high threshold of pain and a willingness to, overtime, to learn it. If you’re a person who’s doing it one time and you’re probably never going to do it again, you’re probably better off just hiring council.

 Attorney Tom Olsen: Thank you, Rob. We appreciate it.

 Attorney Rob Solomon: Sure.