A Guide to the Eviction Process in Tampa, Florida
Tenants commit to certain terms when they sign a lease agreement such as making timely rent payments, upholding the terms of the lease agreement, and caring for the unit.
Sadly, some tenants choose to, either knowingly or unknowingly, violate such rules. And in such cases, you have a right to evict the tenant as per the Florida landlord-tenant laws.
Generally, in Florida, an eviction will take anywhere between 2 to 3 weeks from start to finish. However, it may take longer depending on the reason, as well as whether the tenant puts up a fight.
It’s illegal to evict a tenant arbitrarily, or due to retaliatory or discriminatory reasons.
Grounds for Tenant Eviction in Florida
As a landlord, you can begin an eviction in Florida for several ‘just causes.’ They are as follows.
1. Nonpayment of Rent
A lease obligates a tenant to pay rent by a certain date every month. If they don’t and it becomes late, you can begin the process of evicting them from your property.
2. Early Termination of a Lease
You can also terminate the tenancy of a holdover tenant, meaning one who stays after their lease expires. Often, landlords do so if they no longer wish to continue renting to the tenant. Once the lease has ended, you can start eviction proceedings against the tenant.
The amount of notice to serve them will depend on the type of lease in operation.
3. Foreclosure of the Rental Property
You can also evict a tenant if your property is facing imminent foreclosure, and the tenancy isn’t going to continue. The incoming landlord must serve the tenant with a month’s written notice.
If the tenant continues to stay after the 30 days are over, the new landlord can proceed with the eviction.
4. Violation of the Lease Agreement
This is arguably the most common reason for eviction in the state of Florida. Naturally, a lease obligates a tenant to abide by certain responsibilities. If a tenant fails to do so, Florida laws give the landlord the right to evict them.
Lease violations are categorized into two: curable and incurable. Curable violations are minor offenses. They give the tenant an opportunity to fix them. Such violations include:
• Keeping a pet when there is a “no-pet” policy
• Having unauthorized guests or cars at the premises
• Parking a car at an unauthorized area
• Failing to keep the property to the required level of cleanliness and sanitation
Deductions to the security deposit may also be considered in certain circumstances.
The second category is for more serious violations. They are incurable, and a tenant doesn’t get a chance to fix them first. Examples of violations belonging in this category include:
• Excessive property damage
• Illegal activity
• Repeat violations within a 12-month period
Eviction Process in Florida
Step #1: Eviction Notice
The eviction process begins with an eviction notice. Eviction notices are specific depending on the violation committed. Please note that serving the wrong eviction notice can stop an eviction proceeding.
• For tenants who fail to pay rent, you must serve them a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. This will give the tenant up to 3 days to pay the due rent or move out.
• For tenants who holdover, you must serve them an X-Day Notice to Quit. (X – Denoting the frequency with which rent is paid). For example, if your tenant pays rent on a monthly basis, you must serve them a 30-Day Notice to Quit. The tenant will not have an opportunity to remedy the violation. They must move within the 30 days or else risk an eviction.
• In case of foreclosure of the property, you must serve the tenant a 30-Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant doesn’t move out within that window, you can continue the eviction process.
• For curable lease violations, you must serve the tenant a 7-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate. This will give the tenant 7 days to stop or fix the violation. If they disregard the notice and continue with the violation, you can continue the eviction process.
• For incurable violations, you must serve the tenant a 7-Day Unconditional Quit Notice. This will give them 7 days to move out. If they don’t, you can continue with the next eviction process.
Step #2: Summons and Complaint
Once the notice has expired and the tenant is still on the premises, you can escalate matters further by moving to court. At the court, you must file a summons and complaint. This will cost you about $180. You may also need to pay an extra $10 for each summon that the court may need to issue.
The complaint should contain the following information.
• Names of the landlord and tenant
• The location of the property
• The address of the rental property
• Grounds for the eviction
• The date when the eviction was served
Typically, the court will issue the summons approximately 5 days after an eviction lawsuit is filed. After that, it may take the court another 3 days to serve the tenant.
A tenant has a right to fight their eviction. The following are common defenses tenants have in the state of Florida.
• The eviction process had errors
• There is evidence the eviction was done for discriminatory reasons
• The landlord tried to evict the tenant using ‘self-help’ eviction procedures
• The landlord falsely accused the tenant of a violation
If the tenant chooses not to fight the eviction, the court will issue a default judgment in your favor.
Step #3: Writ of Possession
If the court rules in your favor, you’ll subsequently be issued with a writ of possession. It’ll then be the responsibility of the county sheriff to serve it on the tenant. The writ will be the tenant’s final notice to leave.
If the notice on the writ expires without them leaving, the sheriff will return and forcibly remove them.
Evictions can be hard to do, but they don't have to be with proper help and guidance. Best Rental Services can help you through every stage of the process. Even better, we can help you place the best tenants so you wouldn't have to go through this process in the first place! Contact us today to learn more about our professional property management services.
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice. For expert legal advice, please get in touch with our team directly at Best Rental Services. We’re Tampa property management experts.