In Florida, a landlord can evict a tenant for a variety of reasons, but the landlord must terminate the tenancy first. The landlord terminates the tenancy by giving the tenant written notice, as required by state law. If the tenant does not comply with the written notice, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit (also sometimes referred to as an action for possession).
Florida law gives specific requirements to end a tenancy. Different types of notices and procedures are needed for different situations. This article provides an overview of the rules landlords must follow when evicting a tenant or ending a tenancy in Florida.
In Florida, a landlord can terminate a tenancy early and evict a tenant for a number of different reasons, including not paying rent, violating the lease or rental agreement, or committing an illegal act. To terminate the tenancy, the landlord must first give the tenant written notice. The type of notice will be determined by the reason for the termination.
The rules for terminating a lease without cause vary depending on whether the tenancy is for a fixed term or is month-to-month.
If a tenant has a month-to-month lease or rental agreement and the landlord wants to terminate the tenancy but does not have cause to do so, then the landlord can give the tenant 15 days' written notice. The notice will inform the tenant that the tenancy will end in 15 days and that the tenant must move out of the rental unit by that time (see Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.57).
If a tenant has a tenancy that is for a fixed term, such as six months or one year, the landlord must wait until the end of the term before terminating the tenancy without cause. The landlord does not need to give the tenant notice to move out by the end of the term unless the lease specifically requires the landlord to do so. For example, if the tenant has a lease for one year that expires in December and the tenant has not requested a lease renewal, the landlord will not need to give the tenant notice to move by the end of December unless the terms of the lease specifically require it.
A tenant may choose to fight an eviction. This would increase the amount of time the eviction lawsuit takes. The tenant may have several valid defenses, such as the landlord making procedural mistakes during the eviction (for example, improperly serving a notice or not waiting long enough before filing the eviction lawsuit). Some other potential tenant defenses include the landlord's failure to maintain the rental unit according to law or the landlord discriminating against the tenant. For more information on tenant defenses, see Tenant Defenses to Eviction Notices in Florida.
A landlord must never try to force a tenant to move out of the rental unit. The tenant can only be removed from a rental unit after the landlord has successfully won an eviction lawsuit. Even then, the only person authorized to remove the tenant is a sheriff or constable. Florida law has made it illegal for a landlord to personally remove the tenant from the rental unit. Illegal Eviction Procedures in Florida has more information on this topic.
If the tenant leaves personal property at the rental unit after the tenant has moved and the tenancy has ended, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing of the abandoned personal property. The landlord must give the tenant at least 10 days to claim the property if the notice was personally delivered to the tenant, or 15 days if the notice was mailed. The landlord can also charge the tenant reasonable costs for storage of the property. If the tenant does not claim the property within the appropriate time, then the landlord can either sell the property or dispose of it (see Fla. Stat. Ann. § § 715.10–111).
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Florida law when evicting a tenant. Otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, the rules are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, with the end result that the tenant has lost his or her home. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new place to live.