The Florida landlord-tenant laws give both landlords and tenants a series of rights and responsibilities. One such right is to evict a tenant for a lease violation. Common lease violations in the state of Florida include:
- Failure by the tenant to pay rent.
- Surpassing the term of the lease without agreeing with the landlord.
- Foreclosure of the rental property.
- Failure by the tenant to uphold the terms of the lease.
- Failure by the tenant to uphold their responsibilities under the state’s tenancy laws.
- Breach of the Fair Housing Laws.
To evict a tenant for any of these reasons, you must strictly adhere to the state’s eviction laws. Otherwise, the eviction case would not only fail, but you may also find yourself on the wrong side of the law.
In fact, according to Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.67, you may be liable for paying actual damages or a penalty equal to 3 months’ rent, whichever is greater.
Providing Notice for a Lease Termination
The eviction process starts when you send an eviction notice. The eviction notice that your tenant is served with must be appropriate for the violation they have committed. Serving the wrong eviction notice will only delay the eviction and consequently give the tenant more time to live in their rented premises.
The following are some of the legal grounds for eviction in Florida and the appropriate eviction notices that you must serve to start the eviction process:
Nonpayment of Rent
One ground for eviction in Florida is a failure by the tenant to pay rent on time. In Florida, rent becomes late immediately after its due date, which is at the beginning of each pay period.
When the rent becomes late, you can start the eviction process if you want to evict the tenant. You must do so by serving the tenant with the 3-Day Notice to pay Rent or Quit. This will give them two options: pay the overdue rent or move out.
Surpassing the Rental Term
You can also evict a tenant who refuses to leave after their rental term has ended or in the absence of a written lease. To start the eviction process, you must serve the tenant proper notice. The amount of notice depends on the frequency of rent payments.
Here is some more detail:
- 15-Days’ Notice to Quit: You must serve this notice to a tenant who pays rent on a month-to-month basis.
- 7-Days’ Notice to Quit: You must serve this notice to a tenant who pays rent on a week-to-week basis.
- 30-Days’ Notice to Quit: You must serve this notice to tenants who pay rent on a quarter-to-quarter basis.
- 60-Days’ Notice to Quit: You must serve this notice to tenants who pay rent on a year-to-year basis.
The notice does not give the tenant any other option than to leave once the period is over, in this case, it’s also best to consult the Florida security deposit laws.
Foreclosure of the Rental Property
If a rental property is foreclosed upon, the incoming landlord can choose to evict the tenant. To do so, they will need to start the eviction process by serving the tenant with a 30-days’ written notice.
After the notice period, the incoming landlord can proceed with the eviction action by moving to court.
Violation of the Lease
Florida landlords can also evict a tenant in Florida for violating specific terms of the agreement. The type of notice to serve depends on the category of the violations, as described below.
Curable violations are ones that a tenant could resolve without the need for eviction. In this case, you must serve the tenant with a 7-Days Notice to Cure or Vacate. The notice gives them an opportunity to fix the violations they have committed within a week.
- Unauthorized Parking.
- Subletting when it is prohibited.
- Smoking when there is a no-smoking policy.
- Living with unauthorized pets.
- Exceeding any occupancy limits.
- Not keeping to cleanliness standards.
Incurable violations are those that directly break the lease in Florida and do not leave the tenant with the ability to resolve the issue. In this case, you must serve them a 7-Days Unconditional Quit Notice. The tenant must leave after the 7 days are over or else face an eviction action.
- Using the property for illegal activities.
- Causing negligent or careless property damage.
- Repeated curable violations that can deteriorate the landlord-tenant relationship.
Serving a Tenant with an Eviction Notice
When serving an eviction notice to a tenant, you must do so in any of the following ways:
- Deliver the notice to the tenant in person.
- Mail a copy of the notice to the tenant via either registered mail, certified mail, or regular mail.
- Leave a copy of the notice in a conspicuous place at the rental premises.
After you have posted the notice, the tenant will need to honor the notice or else risk getting evicted.
Defenses for Tenant Eviction
If a tenant has a legal defense, they may be able to delay or dismiss an eviction. The following are the common defenses in the state of Florida:
- You tried to evict the tenant from their rented premises by locking them out, changing the door locks, shutting off essential services or any other illegal eviction method.
- Your tenant has evidence that you discriminated against them.
- You retaliated against the tenant for exercising any of the fundamental rights. Such rights include reporting you to a government agency regarding habitability violations and withholding rent when their repair requests are ignored.
- The eviction notice has errors. For example, it does not mention the notice period or what the tenant must do within the notice period.
- You have failed to maintain the unit to habitable standards.
Any of these defenses are acceptable under Landlord-Tenant Law, but if you have any questions, please seek professional legal counsel.
Writ of Possession
If the court rules in your favor, a writ of possession will be issued and the eviction process will continue. The writ of possession gives the tenant a final chance to move out on their own. If they do not, the writ of possession gives the sheriff authority to forcefully conduct the eviction.
Understanding how the Florida eviction laws work is an important part of being a landlord. So, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact a leading property management company such as TrueNest Property Management.
Disclaimer: This blog is not a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney. For any questions regarding this content or any other aspect of property management, please contact us.