What reasons do I need to file an eviction?

You can file an eviction if a tenant refuses to vacate the premises after the service of a proper notice to the tenant. Whether or not a notice is “proper” is determined by law and by the lease. Different types of notices are required depending on the reason for the termination. For example, a notice that terminates due to the nonpayment of rent is a different notice than a notice based on criminal activity.

 How do I begin an eviction?

All evictions begin with a proper notice that tells the tenant to vacate the premises. Once the notice expires, an eviction complaint is filed with the Clerk of the County Court.

 Can I evict a tenant who has children?

You can evict any tenant who fails to comply with the lease.

 What is a Three Day Notice?

A three day notice is the most common type of notice. It is used only in situations where the tenant has failed to pay rent. The notice tells the tenant to either pay the rent within three days or vacate the premises within three days.

The language on the three day notice must be very precise. Not all forms that one finds on the internet are valid under Florida law!

 What amounts can I put on the Three Day Notice?

The three day notice can demand only the rent that is due as of the date the notice is served. It cannot include amounts that are not rent. It cannot demand rent that will become due tomorrow or due any time in the future.

 Suppose the tenant tries to pay me?

The tenant has the absolute right to pay you the full amount of rent due within the time frame of the three day notice. You must accept the rent if it is offered to you within the three day time period. If the three day time period has expired, you can refuse the rent.

Suppose the tenant only has partial rent?

You do not have to accept partial payment after you have served a three day notice. However, you do have to accept rent if the amount tendered is the full amount that was demanded on the notice.

 Can I collect late fees?

You can collect late fees only if the lease says you can. If there is no written lease, then you cannot collect late fees.

 How long does an eviction take?

The length of time may vary depending on the specifics of your case. However, the following is the basic timeline:

You notify us and after receiving all the necessary documentation, we will review the case and determine if the 3-day pay or quit notice is applicable to post. As soon as possible, we will have the notice posted.

As soon as the three days have elapsed, we will respond to the courthouse where we will file the complaint.

Once the eviction complaint is served the tenant has 5 business days to respond. If the tenant does not respond, we proceed to file the appropriate forms to have the judge sign the final forms to evict the tenant.

Once signed by the judge it will be forwarded to the Sheriff’s Department, who will serve the Writ of Possession.

24 hours following the writ of possession, the Sherriff’s will contact us to take possession of the property. This entire process depending on a case by case scenario averages approximately between 3 to 5 weeks.

 Can I hold off on a repair if I do not receive rent?

No. The obligation to repair and maintain property is totally independent of the tenant’s obligation to pay rent. If the tenant has not paid rent, then the remedy is to serve a three day notice.

 Can the tenant fight the eviction?

The tenant has the opportunity to file an answer to the eviction complaint. In that answer, the tenant can list the reasons why the eviction should not occur. These “defenses” are then heard by the judge. However, the tenant is only entitled to have the judge consider the defenses if the tenant has deposited the rent that is owed into the court registry.

 Suppose the tenant retains an attorney?

Just as the landlord is entitled to hire an attorney, so too is the tenant. If the landlord is representing himself in the eviction, and the tenant retains an attorney, then the landlord should seek the help of an attorney so that there would be an “even playing field” in court.

 Do eviction cases go to court?

All lawsuits are filed with the “Clerk of Court”. All judgments are signed by a judge. However, not all cases go through a hearing or trial. In fact, most evictions do not require a hearing or trial. If the tenant fails to file an answer or fails to deposit the rent that is owed, a “default” will be entered and, following that, a “default judgment”. For those cases where a default is entered, there is usually no hearing or trial.

 What happens if the tenant pays the rent to the court?

If the tenant deposits the rent that is owed into the Court Registry, then a “final hearing of eviction” or an “eviction trial” will be scheduled. At that final hearing, the judge will decide if the landlord is entitled to get back possession of the rental premises. The landlord must be prepared to prove his case at the final hearing with witnesses and exhibits. The tenant will have the chance at the final hearing to present proof why he should not be evicted.

 Can the tenant file bankruptcy and stop the eviction?

The tenant can file a bankruptcy case at the bankruptcy court. Once the bankruptcy case is filed, all collection efforts must stop. That means that the eviction must stop until the bankruptcy judge gives permission for it to proceed. Getting that type of permission is not difficult but generally requires the assistance of an attorney who is admitted to practice in that court.

 Can I file an eviction if I have no lease?

Yes. However, you will need to show what the oral agreement was about the tenancy. How much is the rent and how often was it to be paid? On what day was rent due? Those facts have to be alleged in the eviction complaint and then proven to a judge.

 How do I non renew a tenant?

A notice of nonrenewal can be served to the tenant and will be valid if it gives the tenant a sufficient number of days “warning” that the lease will not renew and if it tells the tenant to vacate on the last day of a rental period.

How many days must the notice give? Look first at your lease. It may tell you how much notice must be given for a nonrenewal. If your lease does not contain such language, or if there is no lease, then the following rules apply:

If the rent is paid on a monthly basis, then give not less than 15 days’ notice prior to the end of any monthly period — If the rent is paid on a weekly basis, then give not less than 7 days’ notice prior to the end of any weekly period.

 Do I need a reason to non renew a tenant?

No. You can nonrenew a tenant for any reason, as long as it is not retaliatory or discriminatory.

This answer may be different if the rental property receives the benefit of a rental assistance program or other government benefit. Consult with an attorney if you are not sure.

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