I need to evict my tenant. What are my rights?

Owning residential real estate is smart. It can be a solid investment with a good rate of return. If you have quality tenants, your relationship with them can be mutually beneficial. But sometimes, that relationship deteriorates and you need to act.

In Florida, like many other states, both you and your tenants have rights. To terminate the landlord-tenant relationship and seek eviction, a number of steps must first happen.

Reasons for eviction

A Florida landlord may have cause for eviction under circumstances:

  • Nonpayment of rent: A tenant may face eviction if they do not pay their rent. They must have three days' notice to either pay the rent in full or face eviction.
  • Lease violation: A landlord may evict a tenant for any breach of the conditions on the lease. Common lease violations include damaging the property, excessive noise, having prohibited pets, additional occupants living at the property who are not on the lease or breaking the law while at the residence.
  • Expired lease: If the lease for the property has expired and the tenant has not moved out, the landlord may evict the tenant from the residence as a holdover tenant.

Eviction proceedings

Once the conditions for eviction exist, it may be a good idea to speak with your tenant first. Sometimes issues with a tenant are fixable without having to begin legal proceedings for their removal.

If the issue with your tenant is unresolvable, you should file an eviction complaint with the courts in the county where the residence is located. The complaint should detail the reason for the eviction and include a copy of the lease.

The eviction notice must then be served on the tenant. If, after two attempts, the tenant is not located for service, the sheriff may serve the notice by attaching it to a conspicuous part of the residence. Once served, the tenant has five business days to respond to the notice.

Going to court

After service of the eviction notice, the court schedules an eviction hearing. There, you will present evidence about why the eviction was necessary. The tenant has the option to fight the eviction at the hearing. If the claim is based on non-payment of rent, the tenant must deposit the amount of rent due in the regiistry of the court in order to defend the action.

If the judge sides with you, the court orders the sheriff to evict the tenant within 24 hours - except for weekends and holidays. Any money owed for past-due rent or for damages may be awarded at a later time provided a claim for damages was included in the complaint.

Moving forward

An eviction is always unpleasant - both for the tenant and for the landlord - but sometimes it is necessary to protect your investment. The legal requirements and the steps involved in removing a tenant may seem overwhelming, especially when you have more properties or other work keeping you busy. Do not be afraid to reach out to an attorney to assist in the eviction and help you determine your rights as a property owner.

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