Steps and Timeline of the Eviction Process in Florida [2021 Updates]
Florida is a landlord-friendly state. On average it takes 30 days to evict a tenant if the eviction is not contested (the tenant doesn’t respond to the lawsuit.) Florida law requires a three-day notice to the tenant to leave or pay rent. If the tenant fails to pay rent, the next step is the filing of a lawsuit.
These are the steps and the time it takes to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent:
- Serve a 3-Day Notice [3-15 Days]
- File an Eviction Lawsuit [2-3 Days]
- Tenants are Served Eviction Papers (Court Responsibility) [1-3 Days]
- Waiting for Tenant to Answer [7-10 Days]
- Court Enters a Default Judgement or Picks a Date for a Hearing [5-7 Days]
- The Clerk of Court Issues Writ of Possession [1-3 Days]
- Sheriff Executes Writ of Possession. [5-7 Days]
Current Updates on Florida Evictions
Some of these restrictions may apply to your property or all of them may apply.
1. January 3, 2021 Update – The New Stimulus Bill and Extention of the CDC eviction moratorium.
The New Stimulus Bill will provide some relief for landlords, $25 billions will be available for rent assistance. The states and counties will provide this assistance to tenants and to landlords on behalf of tenants. The help will be limited to 3 mos for each applicant and can be extended if there are additional available funds.
The government (state, county) will make payments directly to landlords and utilities.
New! The CDC order is extended through January 31, 2021.
The White House authorizes CDC to temporarily halt evictions through the end of 2020.
The CDC order does not relieve tenants from their obligation to pay rent and landlords can continue changing late fees and penalties.
You can still file an eviction for reasons other than Non-Payment of Rent. Here is the Notice for Non-Compliance with Lease Terms.
I would advise hiring an attorney specializing in Landlord-Tenant Law because an eviction for Non-Compliance with Lease requires solid proof and it’s more difficult than eviction for non-payment. You can find listings in our Directory.
Tampa Bay Times recently reported that some judges are allowing evictions to proceed despite the CDC order because as per Florida state law, the tenant has to deposit in court the full amount of missed rent before they can contest the eviction. Here is a link to the article.
3. The CARES Act – This Act Can be Found Here
“(Sec. 4024) Tenants in specified federally backed housing (e.g., federally subsidized housing, rural voucher-program housing, and housing financed through federally backed mortgages) may not be evicted for 120 days beginning on the date of enactment of this subtitle. A lessor that serves an eviction notice after this time period must provide the tenant with 30 days to vacate.”
The Cares Act starts on March 27, 2020 and ends on the first to occur:
- The termination date of the National Emergency concerning Covid-19 or
- December 31, 2020.
Check if you have a federally-backed mortgage here.
4. January 3, 2021 Updates – FHFA Extends REO Eviction and Foreclosure Moratoriums until at least December 31, 2021
Click here to read the new FHFA news release. The moratorium is on evictions that have been foreclosed already and are currently owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The foreclosure moratorium applies to all single-family homes that are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages.
We are not an attorney and this is general information not intended to be a substitution for consultation with a lawyer.
Eviction Process in Florida
Step 1: Serve a Notice
Time: 3-15 days
There are different reasons to evict a tenant but the most common is nonpayment of rent.
To start the eviction process, the landlord must deliver a 3-Day Notice to the tenants.
When to Serve a Notice?
Give your tenants the notice as soon as the grace period is over. If you include a rule in your Tenant Welcome Letter your tenants will not be surprised when you deliver a Notice, they will expect it.
Where to Get the Notice?
You can get the notice from us, other websites or your lawyer. However, it’s worth mentioning that our forms are free forever and we don’t trick you into free trials and hope that you will forget to cancel.
How to Deliver the Notice?
The Notice can be hand-delivered or mailed. Mailing an eviction notice is tricky because you have to show that the tenant has had three business days to respond to the notice and pay the rent. Even if you mail a Certified letter, the tenant may refuse it and make the whole process longer.
The best way to deliver the Notice is in person. Create the Notice, date it on the same date of delivery, and give it to your tenants. If they are not home, post it on the front door (make sure it’s taped well) and take a photo with a date and time stamp.
Crucial Info When Preparing the Notice
- The notice should be addressed to all occupants (including people who may have moved)
- The date on the notice should be the date you are serving it
- The amount due should be an undisputed Rent only amount. Don’t include late fees or any other fees. Consult an attorney if you want to do that.
Other Types of Notices
If a tenant usually pays by mailing a check, serve them an 8-Day Notice.
For non-compliance with the lease, use the 7-Day Notice
Step 2: File an Eviction Lawsuit
Time: 2-3 days
When to File for an Eviction?
If after the expiration date on the notice, you still don’t have the rent, the best action is to file an eviction case. If the tenants have paid the full amount due, you have to accept the rent. If they paid only part of the rent, serve another notice for the balance still owed.
How to File an Eviction Case?
You can either represent yourself or hire an attorney.
If you decide to represent yourself or if you are a property manager, you can file online: Florida Courts E-Filing Portal. After creating an account, you can complete an interview and generate DYI documents.
If this is your first eviction I would recommend hiring an attorney because the cost for a flat-fee attorney is around $200 – $300 for uncontested (the tenant doesn’t answer the complaint) eviction plus filing and other court fees. The total cost is around $600, slightly higher for more tenants. Find an eviction attorney in our directory.
Here is What Happens After the Eviction Lawsuit is Filed.
Step 3: Serving Tenants the Eviction Papers
Time: 1-3 days
Tenants are served eviction papers, which notify them that an eviction case is filed against them and that they have limited time to respond. This is done either by the Sheriff or a Process Server.
Step 4: Waiting for Tenants to Answer
Tenants have five business days to answer the complaint. If they answer, they also have to deposit in the court any undisputed overdue rent in order to fight the eviction.
Time: 7-10 days (if the tenant doesn’t answer)
Step 5: Court Enters a Default Judgement or Picks a Date for a Hearing
If the tenants don’t answer the eviction case, the landlord wins by default.
Time: 5-7 days (if the case is uncontested)
Step 6: The Clerk of Court Issues Writ of Possession
Time: 1-3 days
If the tenants have not left the property already, this commends the Sheriff to remove them from the property.
Step 7: Sheriff Executes Writ of Possession
Time: 5-7 days
The Sheriff will call you or your property manager to schedule a change of locks and to enter the property.
List of Courthouse Websites and Information by County:
- Hillsborough County Clerk of Court (Sheriff is not serving eviction notices until further notice)
- Pinellas County Clerk of Court (Clerk’s office will not issue Writs of Possession for evictions through June 1, 2020)
- Pasco County Clerk of Court
- Polk County Clerk of Court
- Manatee County Clerk of Court
- Orange County Clerk of Court
- Oceola County Clerk of Court
Organizations That Can Help Tenants with Short Term Grants:
Having to evict a tenant is hard for the landlord and the tenant. Most landlords have a mortgage payment, so protracting the eviction is not helpful for them or the tenants. Often the tenants are in denial and are not proactive in searching for help and doing nothing is the worst possible outcome for them.
Here is a list of charities and organizations that can help cover tenant’s rent if it’s a short term hardship.
- Salvation Army – one-time assistance to help you pay your rent.
- Catholic Charities – emergency assistance grants that can help you to pay your rent
- Modest Needs – one-time grant
Also, they can call the Local Housing Authorities for additional resources.
- Pinellas County Housing Authority
- Hillsborough County Housing Assistance
- Tampa Housing Authority
- Polk County Housing Authority
- Orange County Housing Assistance
The information in this post is intended for general information only and it’s not a substitution for consultation with a lawyer.