Evictions: Non-Payment of Rent and Non-Compliance of Lease

Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes provides general information on evictions. An eviction is the legal procedure a landlord must follow to remove a tenant from the landlord’s property. Although there are many types of evictions, the Clerk and Comptroller has information and forms available for the two most common types of evictions:

     1.     Eviction for non-payment of rent
                  a.   with possession/damages
                  b.   or with possession only

     2.     Eviction for non-compliance of lease

Other types of evictions can be researched at the Law Library, online, or by contacting an attorney. Evictions start with a notice and complaint to file the case.  Notice and complaint forms are available at the Clerk and Comptroller's office ($0.15 cents per sheet), and downloadable forms for Notice, Complaint, and Summons are available on this website.

Eligibility Requirements for an Eviction Action

The following information is provided only to inform you of which documents must be filed, and the cost involved in a simple eviction case. If you have questions, or if the case is complicated, you may wish to consult an attorney. Please note that the Clerk and Comptroller and Deputy Clerk representatives are prohibited from giving legal advice.

Florida statutes allow landlords or their attorney to file the complaint. It also allows an authorized agent, such as a property manager, to initiate an eviction proceeding; however, the agent may not take any additional action unless the agent is an attorney.

These requirements apply only to evictions based on failure to pay rent.  There are completely separate requirements for eviction for breach of other provisions of the lease, or when the lease is at an end an you do not desire to renew.

Three Day Notice Requirements for Residential Evictions

Before filing a Complaint to recover possession, a landlord must serve a Three Day Notice demanding payment of rent or possession of the premises within three days (excluding Saturday, Sunday and legal holidays) from the date of delivery of the Notice.

The Court may consider the proof of service of the Notice when making a ruling on a residential eviction. You may serve the Three Day Notice by sending it through certified, return receipt mail. The return receipt must be signed by the tenant. Three Day Notice may also be served by a private process server, who will supply the Affidavit of Service.

 If your tenant pays within the three days, you cannot evict the tenant, even if he/she has failed to pay rent before.

Filing the Complaint with the Courts

A landlord applying for removal of a tenant must file a Complaint describing the dwelling unit and stating the facts authorizing recovery. The landlord may also request judgment for the amount of rent owed. The original Complaint, any supporting documents (lease, etc.) ,and sufficient copies per tenant must be filed with the Clerk and Comptroller. One additional copy of the Complaint with supporting documents and pre-stamped envelope must be provided, if service by posting is anticipated or becomes necessary.

Before a hearing can be set or a default pursued, the Proof of Service must be returned to the Clerk and Comptroller's office for filing, to determine whether the summons was served.

Issuance of Summons

Upon filing the Complaint and paying the fee, the Clerk and Comptroller will issue a Summons for Tenant Eviction. A copy of the Complaint (to be supplied by the landlord) will be attached for service on the tenant. The summons can be served by the Sheriff's office, or a private process server.

Answer by the Tenant

The tenant has five days (exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays and holidays) after service of the summons to file any defenses. When depositing rent funds with the Clerk and Comptroller's office, the deposit must be in cash, money order, cashier's check, or a check drawn on an attorney's trust account. Clerk and Comptroller fees apply to the deposited amount, and are calculated at 3% for the first $500 and 1.5% for the remaining amount. Clerk and Comptroller fees may be paid by cash, money order, cashier's check, personal check (photo identification is required), or credit card. Please note that credit card transactions are subject to a 3.5% non-refundable fee accessed by a third party payment processor (MyFloridaCounty.com). If an Answer is filed, the landlord must contact the Court to schedule a hearing. Once scheduled, a Notice of Hearing must be provided to the tenant and filed with the Clerk and Comptroller.

Default

If the tenant fails to answer the summons, the landlord may file a Motion for Default, obtain a Final Judgment for Possession, and request the issuance of a Writ of Possession. These forms are all provided by the Clerk and Comptroller.

The Clerk and Comptroller is authorized to enter a Default upon the expiration of five business days after personal service on the tenant or, if service is by posting, five business days after service is effective, the date of posting or mailing, whichever occurs later. 

After entry of the Judgment and upon request, the Clerk and Comptroller will issue a Writ of Possession to the Sheriff commanding him to put the landlord in possession 24 hours after service on the tenant. The Writ must be served by the Sheriff. The fee for service by the Sheriff is $90.00.

Dismissal

You may decide at any time to dismiss the proceedings. If you do so, it will not affect your right to start new proceedings if your tenant again fails to pay the rent on time. If you do dismiss the proceedings, and a hearing has been scheduled, you must notify the Judge before the final hearing date, so that the Judge can use the time for other proceedings. Should you decide not to attend the proceeding, yet do not dismiss the case, you may be required to attend a future hearing for lack of prosecution.

Filing Fees

The filing fee is payable in cash, by check (with proper identification provided, and made payable to the Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller) or by credit card. Please note that credit card transactions are subject to a 3.5% non-refundable fee accessed by a third party payment processor (MyFloridaCounty.com). There is also a separate fee for service of the summons. If you choose to use the Sheriff's Office for this service, the cost is $40.00 per tenant (payable to the Sheriff of Sarasota County). Private process servers can also be hired, and their fees vary. If posting a notice becomes necessary, there may be additional costs for copying and mailing.

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