On this page, we have compiled a list of common questions asked by tenants involved in Eviction disputes with their landlords. For a complete list of statutes visit the Florida Residential Landlord Tenant Act.
Paying The Rent
What can happen if a tenant doesn't pay rent when it is due?
Initially, a compassionate landlord may simply make repeated requests for payment of rent. If the problem continues the landlord may take a tenant to court for payment of back rent and may also commence a lawsuit to have the tenant physically removed (evicted) from the property.
What if I can't afford to pay the rent?
If you find yourself unable to pay the rent, we advise our clients to consider moving out. However, it is essential to explore moving options while adhering to the terms and conditions specified in your lease agreement. Our team often negotiates the move-out arrangements with the landlord on behalf of our clients, preventing them from receiving an eviction judgment.
What if I can't afford to pay the rent?
If you find yourself unable to afford the rent, our attorneys often advise clients in this situation to consider moving. It is crucial to strategize your move while still adhering to the terms and conditions outlined in your lease agreement. We work with our clients to negotiate the move-out process with the landlord, aiming to prevent our clients from receiving an eviction judgment. By proactively addressing the situation, we seek to find mutually agreeable solutions that minimize the impact on our clients' rental history.
The landlord is no longer accepting rent, what can I expect going forward?
In the case where a landlord is refusing to accept rent, tenants can reasonably expect the landlord to file an eviction if the tenant fails to return the rental premises to the landlord. However, tenants may also strategize against the landlord's refusal to accept the rent. Moreover, we have successfully negotiated settlements at this juncture.
What should I do if I want to move out?
If you desire to move out, you are not alone. In such cases, we typically recommend that our clients surrender the rental premises back to the landlord before an eviction case is filed. However, it's important to review the lease agreement as there may be a specific process to "tender" possession back to the landlord and avoid a formal eviction filing.
Is it possible for a landlord to evict a tenant on their own?
No, it is not. Attempting to do so can result in serious consequences for the landlord. Violating legal requirements by not providing notice of lease termination and eviction proceedings can lead to penalties and court costs. When a landlord takes illegal actions such as throwing a tenant's belongings out the window, changing locks, or cutting off electricity, it is considered a "self-help" eviction. Landlords should never resort to such actions, as tenants have rights that must be respected.
The Eviction Process
What is the eviction process and how does it work?
The eviction process in Florida typically involves several key steps. Here's a general overview:
- Notice to Pay Rent or Quit/Three Day Notice: The landlord must serve the tenant with a written notice demanding payment of overdue rent or possession of the rental property within a specific timeframe (typically 3 days).
- Notice of Lease Violation: If the eviction is based on a non-monetary violation of the lease agreement, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written notice specifying the violation and giving the tenant an opportunity to cure the violation within a specific timeframe (typically 7 days).
- Filing the Eviction Lawsuit: If the tenant fails to comply with the initial notice, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit (known as an unlawful detainer action) in the appropriate county court. The landlord must serve the tenant with a copy of the lawsuit, typically through a process server.
- Tenant's Response: Once served with the eviction lawsuit, the tenant has a limited timeframe (typically 5 days) to respond by filing a written response with the court. If the tenant fails to respond, the landlord may be able to obtain a default judgment.
- Court Hearing: If the tenant files a response, a court hearing will be scheduled. Both parties will have an opportunity to present their case and evidence to the judge. The judge will make a decision based on the evidence and applicable laws.
- Judgment and Writ of Possession: If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, they will issue a judgment for possession of the rental property. The landlord can then request a writ of possession from the court, which authorizes the sheriff to physically remove the tenant if necessary.
- Eviction: Once the writ of possession is obtained, the sheriff will schedule a date for the physical eviction. The tenant must vacate the premises by this date, and if they fail to do so, the sheriff will forcibly remove them.
It's important to note that this is a general outline of the eviction process in Florida, and specific details and timelines may vary based on local laws and individual circumstances. It is advisable to consult with an attorney or seek legal advice for accurate and up-to-date information regarding the eviction process in Florida.
What is the main reason tenants lose their eviction cases?
The most common reason tenants lose their eviction cases is their failure to deposit the disputed rent money in the court's registry, which often leads to eviction without notice.
Can the landlord change the locks or remove my belongings during the eviction process?
In a situation where the landlord refuses to accept rent, tenants can anticipate that the landlord may initiate an eviction process if the tenant does not vacate the rental premises. However, it is worth noting that tenants have the option to develop strategies to address the landlord's refusal. Additionally, our team has a track record of successfully negotiating settlements during such circumstances.
What are the potential consequences of an eviction on my rental history?
The potential consequences of an eviction on your rental history can be significant. Here are some potential outcomes:
- Negative Rental History: An eviction on your record will be documented in your rental history, which can make it challenging to secure future rental accommodations. Landlords and property management companies often conduct background checks and review rental histories before approving applications. An eviction may raise concerns about your reliability as a tenant.
- Difficulty in Renting: Having an eviction on your record can make it more difficult to find a new rental property. Landlords may be hesitant to rent to someone with a history of eviction, as it indicates a higher risk of non-payment or lease violations.
- Limited Housing Options: Your options for housing may be limited due to an eviction on your record. Some landlords may be unwilling to consider applicants with an eviction history, leaving you with fewer choices and potentially forcing you into less desirable housing situations.
- Higher Deposits or Fees: Landlords who are willing to rent to individuals with eviction histories may require higher security deposits or impose additional fees to mitigate the perceived risk associated with your rental history. This can result in increased upfront costs and financial strain.
- Negative Impact on Credit: Although eviction itself does not directly impact your credit score, if the landlord pursues legal action for unpaid rent or damages and obtains a judgment against you, it can be reported to credit bureaus and negatively affect your creditworthiness.
It's important to note that the specific consequences may vary depending on local laws and individual circumstances. Seeking legal advice and taking steps to prevent or mitigate an eviction is crucial to minimize the impact on your rental history.
Three-Day Notices & Seven-Day Notices
What should I anticipate following the receipt of a 3-day notice?
Upon receiving a 3-day notice, there are several things you should anticipate:
- Timeframe: The 3-day notice typically provides you with a specific timeframe to either pay the overdue rent or vacate the rental premises. You should be aware of the deadline mentioned in the notice.
- Communication with the Landlord: It is essential to maintain open communication with your landlord or their representative. If you believe there is an error or dispute regarding the notice, promptly contact the landlord to discuss and seek resolution.
- Payment of Outstanding Rent: If you owe rent that prompted the issuance of the 3-day notice, it is crucial to make arrangements to pay the outstanding amount within the specified timeframe to avoid further action.
- Eviction Process: Failing to comply with the requirements of the 3-day notice, such as paying the overdue rent or vacating the premises, may lead the landlord to initiate an eviction process. This can involve filing an eviction lawsuit, attending a court hearing, and potentially facing eviction if a judgment is made against you.
- Seeking Legal Advice: If you have concerns or questions about the 3-day notice or the potential eviction process, it is advisable to consult with a lawyer or seek legal advice. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation and help protect your rights.
What is the required notice period that the landlord must provide for an eviction?
The required notice period for eviction in Florida varies depending on the reason for eviction and the terms of the written lease agreement, if any. In general, if the eviction is due to unpaid rent, the landlord must serve the tenant with a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit/Three-Day Notice, demanding payment or possession within a specific timeframe, typically 3 days. However, if the eviction is based on a non-monetary violation of the lease agreement, the landlord must provide the tenant with a Notice of Lease Violation, specifying the violation and allowing the tenant a specific timeframe to remedy the violation, typically 7 days. It's important to review the applicable laws and lease agreements to determine the exact notice period required in your situation.
Is my landlord able to evict me without proper notice?
Yes, in Florida. If a tenant fails to fulfill their obligations as outlined in Fla. Stat. s. 83.60, the landlord may proceed with eviction without providing additional notice or a hearing.
Tenant's Next Steps
After a notice has been tendered, what steps can I take to prevent the eviction?
The steps to prevent an eviction will vary based on the reason for the eviction and the terms of the written lease agreement, if applicable. In most cases, if the eviction is due to unpaid rent, it is advisable for the tenant to promptly pay the outstanding rent before the expiration of the provided notice period (typically 3 days). Similarly, if the eviction is based on a violation of the lease agreement and the tenant has the right to cure, the tenant should remedy the violation within the designated timeframe (usually 7 days). If the tenant disputes any allegations made in the notice, it is important to communicate the disagreement in writing. It is recommended to review the specific circumstances and consult local laws or seek legal advice to ensure the appropriate steps are taken to avoid eviction.
Can I handle the eviction case on my own?
Absolutely! However, it's crucial to exercise caution. The Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act ("Act") has numerous intricacies that can catch unrepresented individuals off guard. To effectively defend yourself, it is necessary to thoroughly read and understand the Act. Be prepared to dedicate at least four or more hours per day to prepare your defense, develop your strategy, draft your eviction responses, and file your eviction documents correctly with the court and the landlord or their attorney.
The sheriff has already posted a 24-hour eviction notice (writ of possession). What can I do now?
In this situation, you have eviction defense options available to you. One option is to request a stay of the writ of possession and to vacate the eviction judgment. We offer a service called "Emergency Eviction Removal" that can assist you in these circumstances. Additionally, it is advisable to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to explore any further legal avenues.
Questions Related to Our Processes & Representation
I have received a 5-day court summons, what are my next steps? Can the attorney assist me with drafting the response?
When you receive a 5-day court summons, it indicates that you have a limited timeframe to respond to the eviction lawsuit and file your response with both the landlord and the court. We understand the urgency of this situation and routinely assist tenants in similar circumstances. Our services can support you in crafting a robust response that addresses the claims made against you, presents strong legal arguments in your favor, and safeguards your rights throughout the eviction process. We offer eviction response services as part of our DIY w/ Assistance Services or Court Representation Services. Our team is experienced in handling eviction cases and can guide you through the process effectively.
I have received a 24-hour notice. Can the attorney assist me in obtaining an extension of the given timeframe?
We understand the importance of providing tenants with additional time to transition out of the property, and we can certainly explore strategies to assist in that regard. Our services, known as "Eviction Time Buy" and "Hail Mary Settlement Attempt," have been popular among tenants seeking such assistance. These services aim to negotiate with the landlord and explore potential settlement options that can buy tenants the extra time they need. We have experience in navigating these situations and will work diligently to help tenants in their transition process.