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Taking Possession of Your Property: The Difference Between an Eviction, Ejectment, & Unlawful Detainer Action

December 31, 2019

A landlord in Florida is not allowed to evict a tenant unless the landlord abides by specific rules to end the tenancy first as outlined in Florida law and the lease agreement.  An eviction, ejectment, or unlawful detainer action applies when certain conditions exist, as described below.

An eviction is the proper remedy for removal of a person occupying your property when that person is subject to a lease, paid rent, made mortgage payments, contributed to the upkeep of the property, or paid utilities in exchange for the use of the property.

Unlike an eviction, an ejectment action is only proper for removal of a person occupying your property when that person is not subject to a lease, did not pay rent, mortgage, utilities, or upkeep costs in exchange for the use of the property, but claims to have some right, interest, or title to the property.

Similar to an ejectment, an unlawful detainer action is an appropriate remedy for removal of a person occupying your property when that person is not subject to a lease, did not pay rent, mortgage, utilities, or upkeep costs in exchange for the use of the property.  However, the occupant, in this case, has no legal claim or rights to the property.

What are some reasons for terminating a tenancy?

A landlord may terminate a tenancy when the tenant (i) fails to pay rent, (ii) violates the lease or rental agreement, or (iii) commits an illegal act.

How does a landlord terminate a tenancy? 

For a landlord to terminate a tenancy, he or she must first give the tenant a written notice.  The type of notice provided to a tenant is based upon the reason for terminating the tenancy in the first place.  If the Landlord is terminating the lease for non-payment of rent he/she/they will have to issue a 3-day notice. If the Landlord is terminating the lease for a non-monetary violation of the lease he/she/they will have to issue a 7-day notice

How long does it take to remove the tenant/occupant from the property? 

An eviction uses a process called a “summary procedure” to get the case through the courts as quickly as possible. Notwithstanding this speedier process, the landlord and tenant must abide by all the steps outlined in Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes.

What are the steps in an eviction?

It is important to note that throughout the entire eviction process, a Landlord is prohibited from engaging in self-help or any other methods to force the Tenant to move out of the property  (i.e., the Landlord is not allowed to turn off the water, electricity, or gas and is not allowed to change the locks to the doors). Therefore, a Landlord should not try to evict a tenant on his own under any circumstances!

If the Tenant has not paid rent to the Landlord, then the Landlord must provide a Notice for Nonpayment of Rent to the Tenant. It is important to note that the notice period does not include Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays.  So, the timing of the posting of the notice is crucial!

If the Tenant fails to pay the past due rent amount or refuses to vacate the property after receiving the Notice, then the Landlord may file an Eviction Complaint.  As these are legal papers, a sheriff or authorized process server should serve the Tenant with the Summons and Complaint.

The Tenant who receives an Eviction Complaint has five (5) days to respond to the Complaint for Eviction and deposit the rent owed into the Court Registry. 

If the Tenant does not file an answer to the Complaint and deposit the rent owed into the Court Registry, or fails to respond within the time allowed, the Court may enter a Default Judgment against the Tenant, and the Tenant could then be evicted.

Consult with an Experienced  Real Estate Attorney:  An experienced real estate attorney can advise and guide you through the proper legal process if you ever need to take legal possession of your property.  If you need legal help with your real estate investment transactions, expert advice is only a phone call away.  Call Kimberly Soto of The Soto Law Office, P.A. at 321.972.2279 to schedule your consultation today.

*This site contains educational content provided by third parties.  NuView Trust does not endorse, recommend or approve any of the companies or individuals or investment vehicles or strategies that may be discussed.  NuView Trust encourages clients to seek legal or tax advice as necessary and to perform their own due diligence before engaging in any investment vehicle or strategy.